Diana Toj-Ortiz

Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
Major: Critical Ethnic Studies
Minor: Anthropology & Sociology
Study Away: Border Studies Program – Tucson, AZ
Best Adjective to Describe You: Chillin’

In 20 words or less,what is the best thing about being part of this department?
It provides me the freedom to delve into different departments to further develop my thinking and try on different lenses.

What is your advice to first years and sophomores about getting connected to this department?
DO IT. Our department is rad. We have music, unanswered questions, dancing, dope reading materials, and some solid opportunities for collaborations and events. Reach out to any CES majors, Dr. G, or myself. We’re pretty chill if you are. And even if you have no intention of majoring, take a class or get to know Dr. G.

What is the most valuable thing you’ve learned at K?
Grow into yourself and be you unapologetically. I am still learning this. I owe it to the many women and femmes of color that have uplifted me and showed me that when this institution and this country doesn’t seem to love me, my family does, my friends do, and, most importantly, I can and do.

What has been your favorite class at K? Why?
The answer to this changes or at least depends. Maybe it has to do with the fact that I’m a mercrial Pisces (fun fact, but I digress). At this moment, I’ll say my favorite class has been Reading the World: ldenties with Shanna Salinas my first-year spring. It was one of the first and few classes where I saw my identity and my experience valued here at K.

How have you taken advantage of the open curriculum or experienced breadth in your education?
While most of my classes have fallen under Humanities, I have allowed myself to explore other interests such as math with Calc 1 (Dr. Oloo was a great prof), psychology, music, and languages, too, with Mandarin all throughout my first year and further developing my Spanish in sophomore and junior year. While it took me a while to speak up during discussions, they have been some of the most enlightening.

What experiential education opportunities have you participated in?
During my time in Tucson, I had the chance to work with two different organizations. The first as Spoken Futures, Inc. which focused on youth poetry events and the like. The second was brief but incredibly fruitful: La coalicion de Derechos Humanos worked towards finding missing peoples in the desert. At the moment, I am interning at the Curacao Human Resources and Learning Development department – an opportunity I found through a K and Posse alum. While on campus, I have worked with Communities in Schools at Maple Street Middle School and El Sol Elementary. And finally, I have been a member of the Latino Student Organization for the past three years and was given the opportunity to serve as the Public Relations Commissioner this last year.

What is your SIP?
I am working towards a photography studio art SIP exploring Central American identity and migration through different lenses – literally.

What are your career aspirations/next steps after K?
At the moment, I am considering taking a year off and working as I also look for volunteer oppofitunities doing immigration advocacy work. I would like to go back to Tucson at one point, but more than anything, I want to visit my parents’ homes in Guatemala and Honduras. Eventually, I would like to apply to grad school and research Central American history regarding coloniality, movement, and displacement under someone like Cecilia Menjivar or Leisy Abrego (per Francisco Villegas’ suggestion. Get to know him too!). All the while, I plan on continuing to work and grow with photography. My camera is basically a must-have wherever I go.

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