Isabella Diaz’s journey to her degree has not been easy, but it has been filled with people who have provided help when she needed it and opportunities that will undoubtedly aid in her future endeavors.
Diaz will receive her Associate in Arts degree as a member of Polk State College’s Spring 2020 Graduating Class and will continue at Polk State in the Bachelor of Applied Science in Supervision and Management Program, concentrating in Business Administration.
“At Polk State, there is every resource students need to be successful and amazing faculty and staff who help build students up,” Diaz said. “Polk is not just a state college, it’s a place to grow.”
She credits the connections she has made with employees throughout the College, as well as the opportunities she has been afforded through this networking, for her ability to grow exponentially during her time at Polk State.
Diaz is the first generation in her family to attend college. She excelled in academics and graduated from Florida Virtual School, which she enrolled in to balance a busy schedule with martial arts training.
“At Polk State, there is every resource students need to be successful and amazing faculty and staff who help build students up. Polk is not just a state college, it’s a place to grow.”
“My parents instilled in me the value of education and encouraged me to invest in myself,” she said. “They have been huge inspirations to me.”
Her parents are entrepreneurs and have owned successful businesses in Destin and Polk County. Unfortunately, their business in Destin was a causality of the 2009 economic recession, and their current bounce house and party rental business is being negatively impacted by the COVID-19 public health emergency.
“But in my family, we always get back on our feet,” Diaz said.
Thanks to Polk State’s affordability and support from the Polk State Foundation, which awarded Diaz a $1,000 Frances W. DeMott Endowed Scholarship and a $1,000 Ray and Anna Martin Scholarship during her AA career, she has been able to lessen the financial burden of her education.
“The biggest challenge has been the loss of a lot of business for my family – it’s been hard,” she said. “But the Foundation has helped me find funding for my classes and I have been lucky that my job has been converted to online.”
She thanked Internship and Experiential Learning Coordinator Matina Wager, Academic Success Initiatives Director Cate Igo, Professor of English CR Junkins, Director of Development and Alumni Relations Marianne George, Foundation Accounting Specialist Sherryann Jones, Honors Program Coordinator Natasha Mohamed, and Professor of Biology Anthony Cornett, Advisor of the Phi Theta Kappa Xi Pi Chapter, for providing her with assistance, resources, and mentorship throughout her time at the College.
In addition to serving as President of the Phi Theta Kappa Xi Pi Chapter, Diaz has also been an active member of the Student Activities Board, Student Government Association, and Únete Hispanic Club.
She hopes to pay it forward and aspires to work for a company or nonprofit with a mission that positively impacts the global community. Once she achieves her Polk State BAS, she plans to transfer into a master’s program to study global management so that she can position herself to become part of the international business industry. Her dream job would include traveling and advocating for agricultural or technological initiatives.
“Through involvement in student clubs and College organizations, I’ve developed a sense of responsibility for the community and want to do something where I can help others.”
“The environment and culture at Polk State have really sparked my interest in doing something positive for our global community,” she said. “Through involvement in student clubs and College organizations, I’ve developed a sense of responsibility for the community and want to do something where I can help others.”
In the meantime, she continues to help her peers in her position at the College.
“I enjoy helping other students find their dream internships. It is very fulfilling to know that I am helping them on their paths to great careers,” Diaz said. “Being a part of someone’s foundation and knowing that you are playing a role in positively changing their life is the best feeling.”
“At Polk State, so many people have helped me grow,” she added. “I enjoy doing the same for others.”