Diana García is a Master of Public Health graduate student from Cicero, IL
Hometown: Cicero, IL
Year: Expected graduation: December 2020
Major: Master of Public Health
What did you want to be when you were growing up? Are you pursuing that as a major, or have you taken another path?
Growing up, I knew I wanted to help people. My interests shifted throughout my childhood and into my young adulthood, based on my lived experiences. My interest began with wanting to become a lawyer, a nurse, a dietitian and has concluded in becoming a Public Health professional.
What is your major (and/or minor) and why did you decide on this course of study?
Because my lived experiences have been incredibly influential reshaping my passions, I am currently a Master of Public Health candidate. I was drawn to this program because during my undergrad, as a Nutrition, Dietetics and Wellness major, I studied abroad in Cuba in the summer and witnessed a different level of health, economic, and housing inequities to mention a few, which were new to me. This experience ignited my interest in global health, and led me to the MPH program at NIU.
What has been something you have found pleasantly surprising about your experience at NIU?
NIU is my alma mater, so being able to experience both my undergrad and graduate student life here has provided me an opportunity to compare and contrast the two. What has been most surprising to me about my student experience, that has remained consistent between both degrees, has been finding and maintaining my niche of faculty, staff and students who have supported and continue to support me throughout my academic journey. As a first-generation student entering a PWI, it was critical and of concern to me to find social and academic support within the NIU community in order to thrive and overcome any barriers newly introduced to me and I did, which I am very grateful for.
How have you connected with other students at NIU?
I have definitely connected with a plethora of students, whether in the classroom setting or in social events throughout campus. During my undergraduate career, I met seven empowering and ambitious womxn student leaders. Combining our knowledge and efforts, we were able to bring to campus a national community service-based sorority, Kappa Delta Chi, which has been one of my biggest achievements during my undergrad.
Are you involved in any student organizations or extra-curricular activities? If so, which ones? How have they added to your experience as a Huskie?
Today, I proudly serve as a facilitator for a non-profit organization, Chicago United for Equity. As a facilitator, I take part in important conversations between community stakeholders of diverse backgrounds and lived experiences, in which we apply an assessment tool to assess and evaluate the benefits and burdens of potential policy, funding allocation, and/or projects proposed by the city of Chicago. This experience has added value to my understanding of the importance of intervention and prevention, as we learn throughout the MPH program. I approach anything related to public health through an equitable mindset and throughout this involvement, I have been able to witness the importance of organizing and leaning in to hear and listen to those most impacted.
Who has been one of your favorite instructors/professors and why? What course did they teach?
The professors that I have been able to connect with the most and are most appreciative of, would have to be Dr. Arlene Keddie and Dr. Tomoyuki Shibata. I have taken two courses with Dr. Keddie and throughout my time as her student, in and out of her classroom, she has never failed to check in on me and update herself with my progress in the program. She is the first professor I met in the MPH program and since, I have always gone to her when I had questions or concerns. I am also very appreciative of Dr. Shibata. Although his environmental health course was one I had to spend extra time on, I learned so much in it and through this course, I was better equipped with knowledge to conduct research with him abroad in Myanmar last summer. Both of these professors are very dear to me because they have transformed my graduate experience to flourish the way it has. I know that if I ever need any genuine support and guidance, Dr. Keddie and Dr. Shibata will rise to the occasion.
What advice would you give to a student who is applying to colleges?
The advice I would give to a student would be to get involved! In my belief, student involvement will make or break the student experience, as many times, first-year students begin to feel homesick. In addition, I would advise to find your community. Find a group of people who will support you and motivate you in the highs and lows. Lastly, there are many opportunities out there for you to fund your education and enrich your college experience. Look not only at the resources NIU has to offer, but beyond.
Coming to college, what is something that you have had to learn to do differently?
I have had to learn to just go with the flow. If something doesn't go your way, I have been taught through my own trials that something better and bigger was waiting for me. If your four-year plan doesn't go out as planned, maybe that was to provide more time to prepare you for your future career. If you didn't get into a program, maybe it was because you had a different passion you didn't know about and will soon discover that it happened because you were destined to do something else. It's great to have a plan, but if something does not go your way, it's okay; it's part of the process and you will later reflect back and understand that something didn't happen, so that something else would.
What do you do to relax or recharge? Some of the things I like to do to relax and/or recharge include cooking, staying up to date on politics and current events, getting a massage, shopping, traveling, and watching a documentary or movie.