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Hispanic Heritage Month Highlight: Diana J. De Schutter '15

What year did you graduate and what is your current position/career?

2015 - Head of Growth & B Corp Certification. I work at a strategy consultancy and design agency that focuses on building and growing impact into organizations. 

What did you enjoy most about your time at Cal Lutheran? Such as research, classes, professors, etc.

The effortless feeling of community. I had looked at a variety of different Universities and nothing replicates CLU's culture and the closeness we have with our staff and faculty. 

Are you a first generation graduate? What challenges did you face and overcome being one?

I am. I come from a family who had to leave elementary school to help their family. The struggle I know I share with many first-gens was the lack of guidance or resources. I worked really hard to get to university yet I didn't know what I was supposed to be looking for - I just knew I had to 'make it' there. Since my family didn't know what to look at for schools, I filled in paperwork and looked for application support on my own. I was blessed that it worked for me, but I know for many it was too hard to tackle. 

What were some of your favorite aspects about your major/program?

Honestly the professors. I still speak with Paul Witman regularly and received invaluable feedback from Diana Tsaw, Witman and though not my program no one can forget professor Freeland. All these professors (and more) went above and beyond for us. 

Is there anything you accomplished during your time at Cal Lutheran that you are proud of?

It may seem extremely granular to some and I know some may disagree but being an RA was a big accomplishment for me. Not because I became one but it was the first time I felt I could actually help people. We handled very delicate situations and conversations with students who trusted us. I learned more from being an RA than in many other life or work experiences. CLU trained us so well for the future that I still reference training from back in the day.  

What advice would you give to young Latinx students?

Take risks and take the time to figure it out. At least for me or the students I knew like me, we felt we had to make 'safe' choices and choose degrees that were not too creative but that guaranteed us a safety net. Because we were first-gen students there was an underlying guilt of taking creative risks that would have been more aligned with your passions because that doesn't guarantee a safe income. My advice is ignore the guilt and take those scary leaps anyway. We are living in a new reality, it's time we thrived in it. 

Do you feel that it is important to raise awareness during Hispanic Heritage month? What Is something you think students should be more aware of?

I do! A big part of growing up as Mexican American was to fit into what was expected of me.  But for many I was neither American nor Mexican so I had to fit into identities of the white community I grew up in while never really fitting in. 

As time has gone on I know that loudly showing pride in our heritage helps change the narrative. So many of us grew up without being able to identify ourselves with anyone we saw on tv or in the classrooms or even in our line of work. Hispanic Heritage month for me is an opportunity to be able to learn more about people like me and help pave the way for those who come after. It's an opportunity to make ripples of change and elevate our community and hopefully carry it on beyond just a month.


Diana is co-chair of Cal Lutheran Alumni’s new Latinx Alumni Alliance. To learn more and to get involved, visit the Alumni Alliance homepage.

Interview by Aimee Barrera