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Alumni Spotlight: Crystal Diaz '18

Alumni Spotlight: Crystal Diaz '18

Meet Crystal Diaz ’18, currently serving as a Cultural Assistant Teacher in Madrid, Spain 

Upon graduating from Cristo Rey in 2018, Crystal moved to a small town in Minnesota to attend College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University (CSBSJ). A decision she does not regret as she states, “Moving out of Chicago was one of the best decisions I have ever made. College was an important time where I discovered many interests, assumed several leadership roles, and made life-long friends from different parts of the world.” 

While at CSBSJ, Crystal took the initiative and applied for grants to fund great internship opportunities. In 2020, she interned at Plant Chicago, where she was able to coordinate and expand food access for LINK recipients in her community. Furthermore, in 2021, Crystal interned with Defenders of Wildlife, a national conservation organization dedicated to protecting North American animals and plants. Crystal shares that it was, “an awesome opportunity to extend my advocacy for the protection of biodiversity across the nation.” Upon her return for her senior year at CSBSJ, Crystal continued her advocacy for her community as she presided over CSBSJ’s Student Senate. This opportunity helped improve the representation of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) students and fostered an inclusive space for other diverse and resilient leaders.  

After graduating from CSBSJ, Crystal knew she wanted to travel and learn more about different countries and their cultures. She recognized what a privilege it is to be bilingual and so in October 2022, she decided to travel to Madrid, Spain where she currently works with secondary students as a Cultural Assistant Teacher. Within her role she helps expand students’ knowledge on American culture and learn the English language. Although student teaching is not a field she intends to continue, she hopes to be able to go to Graduate School and earn a master's degree in Urban Planning. With her masters, Crystal hopes to continue to work on improving the well-being of her community through food systems and increasing green spaces. In the meantime, however, Crystal is committed to enjoying the rest of her time while abroad to travel to other destinations in Europe with her close friends.  

As she continues to embark on her next steps, Crystal reflects on the impact that Cristo Rey has had within her leadership experiences. “I believe my leadership experiences and character are a strong testament to the values-based education and work ethic that Cristo Rey taught me. Cristo Rey’s values such as Open to Growth, Loving, Committed to Justice, and Work Experienced are values I carry to this day, and I am always working to improve these. I genuinely believe that having these as core values are important to one’s holistic growth.” Crystal also shares an immense gratitude to her CWSP experience, especially during her student internship at the Economic Club of Chicago, where she was able to build genuine relationships with her colleagues, find mentorship, and step out of her comfort zone to help grow her professional development.  

When asked about a piece of advice she would give to other alumni or current student who aspire to pursue a similar career path, Crystal states, “First, I highly encourage every high school student who can, to complete their bachelor’s out-of-state or away from home. It is an opportunity where you will learn to be independent in ways you did not think of, make your own choices, and learn more about different people and cultures. You will make the best memories and friends living on a college campus. Second, I encourage everyone to embrace being uncomfortable. This may sound intimidating but doing small uncomfortable actions such as trying new foods, a new sport, and going on a dinner date by yourself helps us build courage and lead to self-growth. I was given this advice by my Work-Study supervisor during Cristo Rey, and since, it has become something I try to practice every day.” 

Thank you to Crystal for sharing your journey with us. We are so proud of the work that you do and know your passion will open many more opportunities and growth.  Connect with Crystal on Linkedin 

Would you like to be featured? Contact Daisy Castillo, Manager of Alumni Support.