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Distinguished Alumni honoree Viridiana Diaz takes values developed at Sac State to leadership role at CSU San Marcos

Viridiana Diaz ’02, Ed.D. ’12 (Communication Studies/Educational Leadership), who served as associate vice president of Strategic Support Programs at Sac State and is now vice president of Student Affairs at CSU San Marcos, is the recipient of a Distinguished Service Award from the University's Alumni Association. (Graphic courtesy Sac State Alumni Association)

After 27 years at Sacramento State, Viridiana Diaz packed her bags for CSU San Marcos in January 2022.

Diaz said she took part of Sac State with her.

“The values and philosophies that I learned at Sac State have grounded my work around student success and are embedded in my work as vice president of Student Affairs at San Marcos,” Diaz said. “Sac State paved the way for me to be the leader that I am today.”

Diaz, who left Sac State as associate vice president of Strategic Support Programs, will receive a Distinguished Service Award from its Alumni Association on Oct. 19. Her story serves as an inspiration to all students, particularly those who entered college at a disadvantage.

Born and raised in Mexicali, Baja California, Diaz immigrated to the U.S. with her mother and two brothers at age 12. Despite battling language, financial, and cultural barriers, she soared at Sac State, earning four degrees.

“I am so thankful for all of the experiences and opportunities that Sac State gave to me.” -- Viridiana Diaz

In her last position at the University, she served as a driving force behind student success initiatives, working to remove administrative barriers and address equity gaps. Diaz oversaw resources such as the Serna Center, Dreamer Resource Center, and College Assistance Migrant Program, which are a bedrock of the Sac State’s efforts to recruit, retain, and graduate Latino students.

Diaz said she is proud that graduation rates for all students, including Latinos, rose during her tenure at Sac State. Much of that success is linked to programs and policies that are helping students overcome the same challenges that Diaz faced as a student.

Among her Sac State accomplishments, Diaz authored the application that helped the University earn its Seal of Excelencia recognition for the first time in 2020 for its commitment to serving Hispanic students. Sac State earned the Seal again this year.

Diaz now works to help CSU San Marcos achieve the same certification.

Diaz wants to continue her legacy of building a campus culture that values students of all backgrounds and is firmly anchored in the community. She became steeped in that culture at Sac State, she said.

Administrators, especially President Emeritus Robert S. Nelsen, “very much inspired and motivated me as a leader,” she said. CSU San Marcos President Ellen J. Neufeldt embodies similar values, Diaz said.

Diaz said she always will look upon her years at Sac State with fondness and gratitude.

“I am so thankful for all of the experiences and opportunities that Sac State gave to me,” she said. “Sac State always supported me, every step of the way.” 

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About Cynthia Hubert

Cynthia Hubert came to Sacramento State in November 2018 after an award-winning career writing for the Sacramento Bee. Cynthia believes everyone has a good story. She lives in East Sacramento with her two cats, who enjoy bird-watching from their perch next to the living-room window.

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