Meet UndocuGrad Diana Valdivia, MA in Postsecondary Leadership from San Diego State University


(Interviewed by Carolina Valdivia)

Diana was born in Mexico and moved to the U.S. at the age of 13. She has been living in San Diego since. In 2011, she graduated from California State University San Marcos with a Bachelor’s in Business Administration and a minor in Communication. Two years after, in 2013, she completed her Master’s in Postsecondary Leadership with a specialization on Student Affairs from San Diego State University. Diana’s career goals include becoming a professor and researcher.

What was your biggest challenge in completing graduate school? I was the first undocumented student in the program. In undergrad, I was one of the few undocumented students but I did not have the sense of being the only one facing these unique challenges. My entire cohort was doing paid assistantships and while I received an offer to do an assistantship I could not do it because of my status (pre-DACA). I did an internship my first year, while my second year I couldn’t do one because I couldn’t financially support myself to do a non-paid internship. Instead I worked somewhere else to get paid, but it was not related to my field.

What is one piece of advice you would like to give other undocumented students considering/applying to graduate school? Consider the support the school/graduate program provides for undocumented students. I was the first undocumented graduate student to be part of the 6-year-old graduate program. The support for undocumented students is not as integrated as in other programs so consider whether you will be paving the way for others or you will be benefitting from others who have paved the way. It is not a matter of whether this is good or bad, but definitely consider if you will be the first (or one of the first) undocumented students (which chances are you will).

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Categories: UndocuGrads: Stories of former and current undocumented grad students

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1 reply


  1. “UndocuGrads”: Undocumented students navigating graduate school | My Documented Life

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