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Lili Diaz Loves Helping Students to Succeed

Lili Diaz

Lili Diaz would describe herself as someone who’s much less funny than she thinks she is. As a Santa Cruz native Diaz was excited to move back home after graduating from San Jose State University. It’s been almost one year since Diaz started at University of California, Santa Cruz as a human resource specialist in the Arts Division where she loves getting together with students and helping them succeed.

Diaz was raised by a single dad, who is first generation from Mexico, as an only child and has fond memories growing up with just the two of them. “He worked at a kitchen so he would get leftover bread and we would go and give some bread out to the ducks at San Lorenzo Park,” says Diaz. She also fondly remembers going over to her grandparents’ house to have dinner sometimes when her dad was too tired to cook.

For her career Diaz knew she wanted to do something in business, specifically human resources. She started in community college before transferring to San Jose State. Before coming to UC Santa Cruz, she worked for Valley Water, which supplies clean water to the Santa Clara area, and another company under Alphabet Inc. “We had snacks and napping rooms and all of this stuff that's kind of glorified,” she says referring to her work at Alphabet. “Then we had a mass layoff. After that I reevaluated. I got a lot more fulfillment out of being involved in my community.” So she came to UC Santa Cruz.

She is appreciative of her supervisors here being supportive of her and her work, even when she was new and struggling to understand everything. “They were like, ‘It's okay. It's fine. This is a really hard thing and it's going to take some time.’ They just really made me feel reassured that I wasn't doing as bad of a job as I thought I was.”

Though Diaz has not been at UC Santa Cruz long enough to watch any students she has worked with graduate, she enjoys knowing her work helps them along their journey. She enjoys knowing that the work she does, which is often paperwork to help students get their direct deposits from on-campus jobs or helping get tuition and fee remissions completed.

Even in her freetime, Diaz stays involved with the campus community and helping students. After getting a guitar for Christmas last year she has been trying to teach herself, and is now searching for a music student to tutor her.

The guitar and music has helped her get more in touch with her Mexican routes. Recently, she’s been listening to a lot of corridos tumbados, a regional Mexican genre with elements of urban music such as latin trap and hip-hop. She particularly loves Peso Pluma right now. Her other hobbies include playing with her dog, Grizzly, a chihuahua mix, and cooking pozole the way her grandmother taught her.

“This past year the universe has known exactly what's good for me,” says Diaz. She’s hopeful about her future living and working in Santa Cruz, and excited for whatever comes next. “Overall I'm really stoked and grateful to be at UCSC.”