(This article was written by Gator Correspondent Evelyn Garcia.)
Diana Platas is one of the many students at the University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) who strives to make an impact in her community. A sophomore political Science major, she contributes her time and energy to a number of initiatives.
The daughter of immigrants, she is particularly active with immigrants advocacy groups, including Familias Immigrantes y Estudiantes en la Lucha (FIEL) Houston. Platas also serves as a senator in UHD’s Student Government Association (SGA). She hopes to enter law school after UHD to continue helping families and students. In her busy schedule, she also found time to talk to UHD News about her activities, motivations, and why she’s grateful to be a UHD Gator.
UHD News: What motivates you to be involved in the community?
Platas: I have seen how some people in the community aren’t always as active as they should be. I think that when one person takes a step forward, others will start getting motivated to do something too. The work I focus on is mostly related to immigration. Although there are many resources available to Houston’s community of immigrants, there aren’t many people who can directly relate to specific questions or concerns. And since I belong to that community, it’s a good thing that I can be involved.
UHD News: What has been your hardest obstacle?
Platas: I lost many of my belongings and property while I was starting college last semester due to Harvey. It set me back and was a difficult situation both economically and emotionally. I still I had to be supportive of my parents and help them get back on their feet. We were living with different people, and every other week we would move from house to house. It was just difficult to try to maintain my focus in school, so that was one of my greatest obstacles.
UHD News: What has been your greatest accomplishment?
Platas: My greatest accomplishment is being in college. First of all, I didn’t believe it was possible. I’m a first-generation college student; and economically speaking, my family wasn’t in a situation to afford it. I had to put forth the extra effort. I didn’t want to just give up. I think that being a leader in my community, and helping underrepresented students is one of my greatest accomplishments as well.
UHD News: How has UHD helped you pursue your goals?
Platas: UHD offers a lot of things for students. It’s an affordable University and provides resources such as mentoring. Everything is very accessible. If you have questions about anything or if you need help, you can always ask the staff. Everyone is always ready to attend to your needs and help you.
UHD News: Is there a staff of faculty member that has supported you?
Platas: I met Samuel Santos, dean of students, during summer SGA orientation. He is one of our mentors that guides us in SGA. I’m very appreciative of him because he checks up on me regularly, especially with the current political climate and everything that is happening. He’s always there to support you. Also, Dr. John Linantud, associate professor of political science, has been a help to me. I took several courses from him including, World Politics and Dictatorship and Democracy. He’s always checking-in with me as well and informing me of opportunities. Overall, I think everybody here has been very supportive at UHD, and that’s why I’m grateful to be here.