For OVPDEMA Student Features, we highlight an outstanding senior involved with one of the many culture centers on campus, exploring her work and experience at IU. María González-Díaz is a senior graduating May 2020 with a double major in International Studies and Portuguese. Recently, María and I discussed her college experience, what she’s learned, and how La Casa supported her during her time at IU.
How did you get introduced to La Casa?
During my sophomore year, I had to take a speech class, where I met my friend AJ. She pointed me towards more Latino events in Bloomington and at La Casa. I met Ruby Flores, who’s great and works at La Casa.
What does La Casa mean to you?
La Casa, to me, is a place where—no matter where you fall on the Latinx spectrum—you’re always welcome. I didn’t feel judged to like, speak Spanish or something. If you come from Latinx backgrounds and feel lost or whatever, you can go there to reclaim yourself and find people with whom you can relate. La Casa has a ton of resources, soccer with the local Latino community, and so much more!
What role has La Casa played in your college career?
They’ve seen me grow, and now I’m more comfortable with where I am. I definitely know I can grow and like myself more.
What are you most excited about in your studies?
I chose my major because of the high school Model UN experiences. I was in SPEA, but I didn’t like the policy work. I wanted more hands-on experience. I took one international studies course—I-204 which is Human Rights and International Law with Dr. K—and that’s when I knew!
What are some moments that defined college for you?
I was in Professor Siqueira’s class and we would always read these articles about different organizations and all of these different cases. We learned about laws that didn’t actually help places, and you really need to understand what the people need. I learned about the importance of working locally and growing out from there. I want to work with local communities and let them figure out what can help and then give them the resources that they need.
What have been some of your biggest accomplishments or goals you’ve achieved? Personal, professional, or otherwise?
It was really cool to get a Foreign Languages and Area Studies Fellowship (FLAS) for my last spring semester to study in Portugal. During that semester, I made some Portuguese friends, my language skills improved a lot, and I’m close to fluency. I was also in some Portuguese plays here and it was really cool to connect with the community here in Bloomington. I learned more about correct pronunciation and tiny cultural detail that I wouldn’t’ve known otherwise.
What are your plans after graduation?
I applied for the Fulbright for Brazil! If I don’t get that, I’ll take a year or so, volunteer and work so I can be financially independent. I want to go to grad school to pursue studies in International Criminal Justice.
Any events you’d like to promote? Work experience?
I’m the social media chair for Students Outreach for Asylees and Refugees (SOAR). If you contact us on our Facebook Page, you can be put on the mailing list to learn more about the organization and upcoming events. We’re going to have an Asylee Week dedicated to educating people on some immediate actions that they can help take part in.