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Nicole Diaz

What is your role and area of focus here at Vanderbilt University?

I am a senior majoring in medicine, health and society and neuroscience, with a minor in history of art.

How did you arrive at Vanderbilt?

I really wanted to attend a college somewhere far from my comfort zone. Vanderbilt seemed like a whole new universe. (Also, my brother was a Vanderbilt freshman when I applied to college!)

Who were the key people that influenced you and helped you on your journey?

I have found so many caring mentors and professors throughout my years at Vanderbilt, but the most influential people in my life have been the students I have met through the student organizations I am involved with. The lifelong friendships I have developed being a part of the Association of Latin American Students, Vanderbilt Off-Broadway and the Vanderbilt Performing Arts Community have truly defined my time at Vanderbilt.

What do you love about being Latinx?

I love having a cultural identity that ties me to my family. Being able to bond with other Latinx people who share in the traditions, values, and morals (and the food) of the environment I grew up in is truly invaluable. I also love being able to share how FUN being Latina is through music, dance, food and stories.

What does your Latinx identity add to your role here at Vanderbilt?

I have been able to develop a stronger connection to my Cuban and Dominican background being in a place where there are very few people who identify with those countries. Being from Miami, I never truly felt like a minority until I stepped foot on campus. Although it is hard to navigate my life at Vanderbilt through mainly ignorance and misunderstanding of the Latinx culture, I have become much more informed, a better advocate and, surprisingly, a lot prouder of my identity.

What do you want others to know about the Latinx identity?

This may seem obvious, but just because Latinx people share a language or a family of languages does not mean that we are all the same. We are an incredibly heterogeneous people, and I truly learn something new about other Latinx cultures all the time. There is so much history, culture, art and music that is comprised by the Latinx identity, and it is as varied as it is crucial to forming each individual person’s unique identity within our community.

What message do you have for the Vanderbilt community about serving and supporting Latinx community?

First off, the more the merrier. Having an ever-increasing, every diversified student-body/faculty and staff is crucial to supporting inclusivity and cultural sensitivity on campus. Additionally, there can always be more programming and awareness campaigns surrounding the crises occurring in many of our home counties.

What mark do you hope to leave on Vanderbilt, your community, the nation, the world?

In life, I hope to utilize the paths forged by the many strong Latina women before me, to serve as a role model to other minorities. As a hopeful future physician, I hope to be able to provide quality care to people from any background. I want to develop a deeper understanding, beyond “cultural competence” alone, and use my experience as a Latina woman to inform my career in medicine.

Please give us an interesting or fun fact about you.

I have once eaten 25 croquetas in less than 10 minutes.