One Saturday morning a month, a meeting room at Goshen College is packed with Latino families wanting to learn more about how to propel their children forward with a strong education. Parents ask questions about the college application process and more, often going beyond the scheduled one hour time slot into two or three hour-long discussions.
As the multicultural outreach community liaison for Goshen College’s Center for Intercultural and International Education, Sylvia Rocio Diaz answers those families’ questions and spends her days helping people see how education can change lives.
“I just want to make a difference, especially with Goshen’s Latino community,” she said.
Rocio moved to Goshen with her husband and two daughters in 2004 and took an interest in community involvement and how to make the community even better. She graduated in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree from Goshen College in organizational leadership.
Diaz explains that Latino families want their children to have the best educations but they often are unfamiliar with all of the exceptional programs offered by Goshen Schools. Sometimes, the most important bridge to the community is the parents’ education. “They want to get educated,” she said.
In addition to providing resources to help families learn about Goshen Schools and post-secondary options, Sylvia also provides Goshen families with information about degree completion programs. “It’s not just the kids. Adults are wanting to pursue GEDs” and other learning.”
Rocio puts together multiple 10-minute radio shows called “Destino Latino” each month for a couple local Spanish radio stations, giving advice and information to parents about how to help their children during school and to prepare for college. The monthly workshops at Goshen College are an extension of those radio programs. She goes more in-depth on topics, like computer literacy and preparing for college, and answers any questions parents have.
There are often about 40 people for those workshops, she said. At times, whole families have come to the workshops, she said, because parents want their younger kids to value education and be invested from an early age.
Rocio is a big believer that simple actions create huge changes.
She meets people with a bright smile and speaks energetically about whatever topic is at hand. She sees herself as a bridge between two communities that have lots to offer each other, but she knows anyone can help.
“Relationships are so important,” Rocio stressed.
She would like to connect with local factory owners who may let her stop by and offer information about Goshen’s educational opportunities to parents during a lunch break or talk with people who have their own ideas about helping make the Goshen community even better.
“Everyone can do something,” she said. “Anyone can do a little something and make a difference.”