To call Sarah Diaz, 17, “wise beyond her years” hardly begins to tell her story. Raised in California’s Castro Valley, Sarah is both an avid student and a devoted daughter. Maintaining those roles, however, has not always been easy.
A National Honor Roll student, 2004 English Student of the Year, and highlighted profile in Who’s Who Among High School Students, the high school senior has maintained a near-perfect GPA of 3.85. This fall, she will be the first in her family to attend College.
Her distinctions would be notable for any student, but they are remarkable given a youth that was less than sheltered and far from easy. Shortly before she completed the eighth grade, Sara’s father passed away. During a three-year battle with cancer, Sarah prepared his meals, and monitored his medication and cared for her two brothers so that her mother could work.
She recalls that luxuries like extra time and quiet were generally nonexistent. However, she fought to fit extracurricular activities and homework into a busy schedule. When she reached high school, Sarah’s experience with responsibility paid off, and she found she had a niche for leadership.
Over the last four years Sarah has committed herself to learning American Sign Language (ASL) and volunteering her time with the deaf community. During her sophomore year, she began volunteering at the Deaf Gay and Lesbian Center. Since then, Sarah has returned to the Center each week, lending her voice as an outspoken community advocate.
Additionally, Sarah volunteers with the American Cancer Society’s Relay-for-Life Steering Committee, AIDS Walk, Redwood Christian Vacation Bible School and at the Douglas Morrison Theatre, located in her community.
At school, Sarah serves as president of the Junior State of America Club. She also partakes in the ASL Club Fundraising Committee, Interact Club, Concert Choir and School Site Council.
Sarah’s traces her Hispanic heritage to her father, but since his death, she has found it difficult to connect with her Mexican roots. Now preparing to move on to the next stage of her educational and personal development, she is seeking to rediscover her Latina connection. The star student has been taking Spanish language classes for three years, and has taken steps to involve herself in Latino community activities.
As Sarah brings her gift for leadership to the university level, she plans to pursue a degree in Political Science. Someday, she says, a law degree will follow so that she may advocate for underrepresented minorities — particularly Latinos and the deaf.
Past Young Leaders of Today
Daniel Hernandez Jr.
Armando Raul Mendez
Higinio Turrubiates, Jr.
Ana Rosa Martinez
Eugenia (Gina) Murillo
Brenda Lizzet Lopez
Elena Carolina Svetlana Arciniega
Rene Octavio Valenzuela
Rosangela Serrano Morales
Isaac Guillermo Lara
Angie Lizeth Cruz