Grad student driven to succeed despite challenges

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Grad student driven to succeed despite challenges

When Mayra Roxi Diaz, 24, graduate student, does not study or work, she is spends her time at her favorite coffee shop, Republic of Pie, in North Hollywood reading a book. Photo Credit: Rasta Ghafouri/ The Sundial

When Mayra Roxi Diaz, 24, graduate student, does not study or work, she is spends her time at her favorite coffee shop, Republic of Pie, in North Hollywood reading a book. Photo Credit: Rasta Ghafouri/ The Sundial

When Mayra Roxi Diaz, 24, graduate student, does not study or work, she is spends her time at her favorite coffee shop, Republic of Pie, in North Hollywood reading a book. Photo Credit: Rasta Ghafouri/ The Sundial

When Mayra Roxi Diaz, 24, graduate student, does not study or work, she is spends her time at her favorite coffee shop, Republic of Pie, in North Hollywood reading a book. Photo Credit: Rasta Ghafouri/ The Sundial

Silvia Gutierrez

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When Mayra Roxi Diaz, 24, graduate student, does not study or work, she is spends her time at her favorite coffee shop, Republic of Pie, in North Hollywood reading a book. Photo Credit: Rasta Ghafouri/ The Sundial

When Mayra Roxi Diaz, 24, graduate student, does not study or work, she is spends her time at her favorite coffee shop, Republic of Pie, in North Hollywood reading a book. Photo Credit: Rasta Ghafouri/ The Sundial

At the age of 12, Mayra Roxi Diaz, a graduate student enrolled in a masters program for counseling, was put in her grandmother’s custody while her mother faced issues with drug addiction and her father was never present.

Diaz who was raised by women through her life, has always focused on staying positive despite the challenges she faced in her childhood.

“It was never really a gender conversation,” Diaz said. “I grew up knowing that I could do anything because there weren’t any barriers and never any assumptions that I should do this or I shouldn’t do that.”

The 24-year-old did not allow the absence of her parents to deter her from pursuing her goals. She learned from her grandmother and two aunts to move through life they way they had done: independently.

Since she was a child, Diaz had a knack for school. She read and studied, knowing that college was in her future.

“It’s really hard for me to wrap my head around people that don’t have a plan,”said Diaz. “If I didn’t have a plan, I would panic.”

Diaz applied for the masters program at CSUN immediately after receiving her BA in psychology at UCSB. She is grateful that college allowed her to blossom once she was able to make connections with students who were as driven as she was.

Fellow graduate classmate, Jessica Tang, 26 admires her friends tenacity.

“(Diaz) is a very genuine person; I respect her,” said Tang. “She’s going to be really good at what she loves.”

Diaz plans to be a therapist and she currently interns as a counselor for Friends of the Family, a facility that helps struggling families find success. Her responsibilities include providing therapy for clients, engaging in activities with a small group of children and co-leading a sex offender program. Working for a rape crisis hotline in UCSB prepared Diaz to handle sensitive topics.

She also interned for a wellness program and was the chair of a social program committee that advocates against drinking at parties.

At CSUN, Diaz works as a graduate assistant at the Office of Academic Assessment and Program Review. Former director of the office, and professor of philosophy, Bonnie Paller credits Diaz for coming up with the idea of introductory videos for faculty.

“Diaz shows competence in everything she does,” said Paller. “She sees needs and creates solutions.”

Diaz attributes her success with the genes in her family. She says her mother is brilliant and it “seems like she has a lot of motivation to keep her life in order now.”

They remain in constant communication and it is the support of her mother, as well as the rest of her family, that keeps Diaz going.

At 24, she demonstrates an advanced knowledge in dealing with people who have internal issues. Diaz believes she has an important job as a counselor to make sure clients are in tune with the choices they make.

In September 2014 Diaz was recognized for her passion and dedication and received the CSU Trustees’ Award for Outstanding Achievement.

“I didn’t want to be a resource of failed potential,” Diaz said while thinking of her past. “I didn’t want to look at all the ways I could have succeeded, at all the missed opportunities. I wanted to be different and prove that I could reach my goals.”

What Mayra says loves about working in therapy is, "the moments in a room where you can see something finally click with someone." Photo Credit: Rasta Ghafouri/ The Sundial

What Mayra Roxi Diaz, 24, graduate student, says what she loves about working in therapy is, “the moments in a room where you can see something finally click with someone.” Photo Credit: Rasta Ghafouri/ The Sundial