Jean Carlos Diaz
Metro State University
When Jean Carlos enrolled at Iowa State University, he loved his classes and excelled during the first two years. He was involved in campus ministry and dreamed of working for a non-profit that inspires change in his community. However, during his junior year, Jean faced challenges that resulted in disappointment and depression. Tasks that used to be easy, became impossible. Things as simple as reading an article were incredibly difficult. During his second semester, with advice from his Wallin EP advisor, Jean decided to drop out of college and focus on his health.
The following year, Jean enrolled in college again. Shortly after the semester began, he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. Prioritizing his health again, he left college – only 21 credits away from graduation. Jean underwent extensive treatment, including four surgeries. He describes that year as the most difficult of his life. “When you encounter struggles and are unable to continue college, it is rare to receive a call from someone at your school who is concerned about you. This is when I really relied on Wallin EP. Wallin was my ‘air’ support, always there, regardless of where I was, regardless of whether I was succeeding or not.”
Jean decided to return to Minnesota. He met with his Wallin EP advisor Liz many times, even though he was not enrolled. Jean reflects: “Liz cared about my happiness and health, more than my progress in college. She cared about me and it was only after I was healthy that we talked about college again.” Jean and Liz identified next steps and ultimately, Jean enrolled at Metro State University and will graduate in December. He has been working for Comcast and is also starting a non-profit organization called START with a focus on supporting underrepresented college students in their entrepreneurial efforts.
“I was that kid who excelled in high school and in college, but then had a terrible year that could have changed everything. I thought I might never graduate. Now I know that I will – six and a half years later! And Liz is still here, asking me ‘what’s next?’ and ‘how can I help?’” Jean is planning a big graduation party to celebrate all that he has achieved. Liz was one of the first people he invited.