Diana Sloan, a new member of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion is making a name for herself as the new Program Director of Latino and Hispanic Affairs.
“I am an immigrant, I am a native Spanish speaker, I am a problem solver, I am a creative thinker and I am competitive to the core,” Sloan replied when asked to describe herself.
Sloan is from Monterrey, Mexico; in comparison to Ames, Iowa it’s a whirlwind of a difference. Monterrey is a huge city, with a lot of activity and traffic filling the community there. Monterrey is a very homogeneous city, in which everyone is similar. During Sloan's childhood, especially, everyone was described to be a Mestizo — a mixture of Mexican and indigenous genetic makeup.
When speaking about Sloan’s family and childhood, her face lit up. She talked about how she is close to her family, especially her younger brothers. She talks to her family daily over WhatsApp, and they video chat whenever they can. When talking about her childhood, she praised her early schooling when she attended an all-girl Catholic school. During this time, she saw how strong women can be. She only knew women to be held to a standard of intelligence, physicality and capability.
“I didn’t grow up with this notion that boys can and girls can’t," Sloan said. "In my little childhood world girls could do anything and everything."
She only found there to be a gender gap when she entered high school. However, the way her parents helped her integrate herself socially with boys was sports. But she learned other life skills through activities like sports, specifically karate, where she earned a black belt and learned discipline, which helped her beyond the practice of karate.
After graduating high school, she attended Monterrey Tech, also known as Tecnológico de Monterrey, in Monterrey, Mexico. When describing her college experience, she said in Mexico it is very common for children to live with their parents, so she stayed with her parents all throughout college.
“In Mexico it is very common that you live with your parents until you get married, and for some people that’s forty,” Sloan said while laughing.
However, she did do an international semester in the United Kingdom at the University of Nottingham.
She said it was a great opportunity to visit the land of Robin Hood and the Sherwood forest while abroad in the United Kingdom.
After graduating with her bachelors degree from Monterrey Tech, she went on to complete her Masters degree at Iowa State.
She then started work at the research park in a web development company, where she worked for a couple years. Her skills in the business world were focused on search engine optimization, digital advertising and marketing — how to make the brand experience consistent.
She stayed involved at Iowa State as an alumna, and was invited back for panels and meet and greets. She stayed engaged and found out about the opportunity to apply for a job in the Graduates Office of the Ivy College of Business. For the past five years she was the director of marketing and alumni relations.
“[Working at Iowa State after graduation] was really nice, it was like a coming back home feeling,” Sloan said. "I spent two years as a student, and then all the faculty I learned from I got to collaborate with. And the staff I already knew. It was a very smooth, positive transition.”
Now she is the program director for Latino and Hispanic Affairs with the office of Diversity and Inclusion.
She said her experience as a student and faculty member at Iowa State gave her the motivation to get involved in the work of Diversity and Inclusion, even at her previous job. On top of her job at Iowa State, she was on the Diversity Committee for the College of Business, was the co-chair for Colegas, the hispanic and latino faculty and staff association at Iowa State, and she was the president of the board of directors for the YWCA at Ames ISU.
“Because of the way I see the world, I like to find opportunities to improve processes or policies in a way that makes them more equitable for everyone,” Sloan said.
When the university made the decision to open the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Sloan got involved in some projects within the office where she got to work with nicci port, one of her current colleagues. When she started her new position, it was an easy transition.
“Iowa State is a predominantly white institution, and as an immigrant, I didn’t quite realize how salient my identities are until I moved here,” Sloan said while explaining why she decided she wanted to do this job way before her current position existed.
Sloan gave insight as to what ignited her drive to do what she does. When she came to not only the U.S., but to Iowa, she learned about diversity and how others interact with her. It was really her first taste as to what diversity and inclusion is and she fell in love with this concept. While she was going to school for business, she realized through her experience that adding diversity, equity and inclusion to everything can make businesses more efficient. She wanted to be a part of the initiative that informed others about the importance of diversity and inclusion.
Through her new position she said she hopes to accomplish a more enterprise-wide type of activity, rather than focusing on one area. Sloan said she wants to not only focus on the Latino student experience but also focus on the faculty, staff, alumni and visitor component that will increase the student experience and make sure students are well supported through the administration so that when programs change, the initiatives won’t disappear.
While she said she is excited for her accomplishments and goals for this year, she said she is also excited to bring a new “flavor” to Latino Affairs. Previously, Latino Affairs has been identified as Latino American, some undocumented and some under DACA. However, Sloan said she wants to expand that to also include international Latinos that are here in passing, and also focus on the immigrant community. She said she wants to make the international, immigrant and undocumented students the forefront of this conversation. She said she wants to include as many “flavors” or aspects of being part of the Latino community.
“I look forward to a time where when we say Diversity and Inclusion, people think ‘well that's who we are, that’s our brand’ — that it’s the fibers that make up our community,” Sloan said when referring to Iowa State’s initiatives on diversity and inclusion.