Open to Opportunity – Maria-Fernanda Diaz-Jimenez

Born in Australia and raised in California, New York, Virginia, and Mexico City, Maria-Fernanda Diaz-Jimenez, ’18, has been graced with a mosaic of knowledge and experiences. But it wasn’t until she arrived at Meredith College that she was able to gain the confidence to make her voice heard.

Maria chose Meredith because she saw the value in a women’s college education.

“A women’s education can make anyone feel like their voice will be heard and appreciated,” said Maria. “I am more articulate in my thoughts, more articulate in my opinions — I am not one to shy away from a question or change my beliefs for others anymore.”

Meredith taught Maria how to take chances. She applied to the Honors Program halfway through her freshman year and became involved in campus organizations such as Angeles Latinas and the Meredith International Association. She was also inducted into several honor societies and served as a student advisor for two years.

“The best you can do by going to Meredith is open yourself up to opportunity, because it’s there,” Maria said.

Maria, who is bilingual, had planned to pursue degrees in communication and international studies, but she eventually decided to follow her passion for justice and diplomacy and double major in international studies and political science with a concentration in pre-law.

“It was difficult to change. I didn’t want to be a politician, but I wanted to change public policy,” Maria said. “I wanted to help improve the lives of immigrants living in the U.S.”

After graduation Maria will be attending Emory University School of Law in Atlanta, where she will pursue international and immigration law.

She gained experience in the field when she completed an internship at the Council on Immigrant Relations (CIR), a non-profit organization offering legal aid to those who cannot afford it. At CIR, she helped process applications for visas, work permits, and asylum cases.

Maria conducted undergraduate research on the impact of women in county commissions on budget priorities in North Carolina, which she presented at the Southwestern Political Science Association Conference in Austin, Texas.

“The entire history and political science department went over research terms with [me] and listened to me speak before I went to present in Austin,” said Maria. “It was very reassuring and I don’t think I would have been as confident without their preparation.”

She hopes future Meredith students will take advantage of the support and resources found at the College.

“Meredith taught me that no matter what I do, I will have support, so I should just go for it,” Maria said. “You would have to work hard to not succeed with the kind of care the faculty shows for you.”

By Donna Bahena, ’18

Learn more about studying political science and international studies at Meredith.