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"My accomplishments, in part, reflect the hard work of all the wonderful individuals that have influenced me."
Eva Fiallos-Diaz is from The Land of a 1000 Rivers. In northwest Spain, the lush, mountainous province of Galicia is where the language (Gallego) is a mix of Spanish and Portugese, and where 'family coming for dinner' may mean 40 relatives sharing an evening meal. Family is the focus of Galician culture.
Her grandfather, Dositeo Diaz-Sal, instilled in Eva a "deep love of reading and learning." Her father, who wanted to improve his career opportunities, dreamt of emigrating to America. When she was five, and the eldest of three children, her parents moved to South Florida. Eva's life changed, dramatically. "One of the biggest obstacles I faced growing up was not having my family near, especially my grandfather," she says, "and it has been more difficult to retain my Spanish heritage. Certainly my Castilian language skills have suffered, since bilingualism in the U.S. is not strongly encouraged."
Once in school, she "picked up English pretty quickly," which enabled her to translate for her mother "when she couldn't communicate or fill out paperwork." Along with her parents' divorce came financial problems, and Eva's dreams of attending college "became shaky."
Luckily, her high school teachers and guidance counselor felt otherwise, encouraging her to take Advanced Placement courses. She says, "They created an environment where there were more opportunities than obstacles." Once she graduated, Florida State's Center for Academic Retention and Enhancement (CARE) invited Eva to enroll at the University through their all-expenses-paid Summer Bridge Program. "I will never forget that CARE enabled me to advance academically based on my own merit and not as the result of a single examination." In gratitude, Eva has approached her education seriously, maintaining a 3.8 GPA. "My accomplishments, in part," she says, "reflect the hard work of all the wonderful individuals that have influenced me."
And what drew Eva to study Psychology? At first, she simply wanted to understand herself, and those around her, through FSU's "excellent Psychology department, which offers courses in all areas of the field." Within a short time, however, her simple wish "intensified into a desire to positively affect the lives of those in need."
Eva is now applying to the School of Social Work, where she'll study for a master's in Clinical Social Work, which, she says, "will allow me to do all of that behind-the-scenes work that really needs to be done to create a more stable society."
She says, "The possibilities are endless." For this woman, who has come far in her young life, they certainly are.