2023 Press Releases All Stories

Jhoselyn Diaz found everything she needed to follow her dreams at WCSU

Jhoselyn Diaz
Jhoselyn Diaz
Jhoselyn Diaz

DANBURY, CONN. — Dover, New York, resident Jhoselyn Diaz has always loved art and dreamt of one day becoming a professional artist. Originally focused on attending an art school in Boston, Diaz had to shift her plans when the global pandemic arrived — and the outcome couldn’t make her happier.

“I really wanted to attend MassArt and I loved Boston,” Diaz explained. “I applied, was accepted and got a good offer … and then the pandemic hit. My cousin was a student at Western Connecticut State University and told me it’s a good school and not expensive, and that I should check it out. I applied, enrolled and ended up loving it here.”

Immersed in her studies as a graphic design major, Diaz started to sense that “something was missing.” She loved her classes and still loved art, “but I realized it was more like a hobby,” she said. “I felt that there might be a higher calling, and started investigating all the other majors that WCSU offered.”

Her research led Diaz to look closely at WCSU’s Division of Justice and Law Administration. She met with the dean and asked questions, and then took the information she gathered and asked her parents their thoughts. Neither had attended college themselves, but they listened to the results of her research and her reasons for wanting to change majors, and were fully supportive.

Diaz switched programs at the beginning of the spring semester of her freshman year and became a Legal Studies major with the goal of attending law school after graduation. Now entering her senior year, she is vice president of the university’s Justice & Law Society, and in that role works to bring representatives from law schools to campus to explain the application process to her peers.

“The goal is to try to make students comfortable with the process,” she said. “The law school representatives serve as future contacts for guidance and advice when WCSU graduates want to apply. We also bring in WCSU alumni who are lawyers to talk to students and share their own career stories, which don’t always necessarily fit the conventional model people assume lawyers will follow.”

In addition to her leadership in the JLA Society, Diaz is a member of the National Honors Society and WCSU Beyond Borders, a campus club that serves to inform undocumented students about everything they need to know to succeed — from DACA laws to how to obtain private scholarships to how to embark on a career.

Diaz was brought to the U.S. from Guatemala by her parents as a young child, and as a result, she said, she can reside here and attend college here, but can’t get federal financial aid. She has to rely on private scholarships, and that’s where the WCSU Foundation comes in. “I received the Diane Poodiak First Generation Scholarship and the W. Jason & Ellen Hancock Endowed Scholarship from the Foundation,” Diaz said. “I have to reapply every year and have been fortunate to receive them each time. I also asked for CARES Act pandemic relief funds to help with my college expenses. Without these sources of assistance, I would have had to drop out my freshman year.”

Because she has first-hand appreciation for the impact private scholarships can make for a student, Diaz has a student job in WCSU’s Office of Institutional Advancement. Among her duties are making thank you calls to donors to let them know students are grateful and are achieving their goals because of the donors’ generosity.

At WCSU, Diaz is making the most of the opportunities available to her and has found her “higher calling.”

“Last semester, I was able to participate in a Legislative Internship at the state capitol,” she said. “I worked with Rep. Anthony Nolan from District 39, and he let me put together a press conference for his work on a bill to provide health care for all undocumented immigrants living in Connecticut.”

After she graduates, Diaz plans to take a gap year to study for the LSATs and work so she can accumulate funds to pay for law school. With a 3.38 GPA going into her senior year and multiple semesters on the Dean’s List, she has set her sights high and plans to apply to Harvard, Yale, Columbia and the Boston University School of Law. Her end game is to become an immigration or international lawyer.

“It doesn’t matter where you came from or what your status is,” Diaz said. “As long as you have confidence and believe in yourself, you can do anything. Don’t let obstacles stop you — keep striving for it. There are always people who can help you, and having relationships and connections with people can get you even further and are a blessing.

“Do what you can and ask for help when you can’t,” she added. “There is no shame in asking for help. And, of course, be grateful when you receive it.”


Western Connecticut State University changes lives by providing all students with a high-quality education that fosters their growth as individuals, scholars, professionals and leaders in a global society. Our vision: To be widely recognized as a premier public university with outstanding teachers and scholars who prepare students to contribute to the world in a meaningful way.