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"I feel like I am needed here"

July 15, 2014 In Lakeland University Blog
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For 2014 Lakeland College grad Diana Torres, the end of an internship meant the beginning of a career.

On the last day of her five-month internship at Safe Harbor, a domestic abuse shelter in Sheboygan, Wis., Torres was asked if she'd like to stay – full time. She quickly answered yes.

"I feel like I am needed here," says Torres, Safe Harbor's new Hispanic community advocate. "Yes, there are times I want to go home and cry. It's not always easy hearing about and seeing the struggles. But, I can make a difference and that makes it worth it."

According to an email from Amanda Drossel, Safe Harbor's shelter services coordinator, Safe Harbor's mission is to "provide prevention, intervention, education and outreach services to empower individuals, families and the community to end all forms of domestic violence and sexual assault."

"If it wasn't for Diana, we would be struggling to reach out to our Spanish-speaking residents and the Spanish-speaking clients who call on the phone," Drossel continues. "We have definitely had a great experience with Diana."

Diana graduated from Sheboygan South High School in 2005 and attended the University of Wisconsin-Sheboygan for a semester before leaving. Thinking higher education might not be for her, she worked for a few years before enrolling at Lakeland in 2010.

Driven to become an interpreter, Diana double majored in Spanish and criminal justice. Once a disinterested student, she changed her approach at Lakeland.

"I worked hard," she says. "I adopted a very different mindset. Seeing my name on the dean's list made me feel good, and I really liked Lakeland. The small class sizes and the close relationships with the professors were perfect for me."

Diana also blossomed out of the classroom, serving as president of the Spanish National Honor Society for two years, helping fellow students as a Spanish tutor and earning recognition as Lakeland's Spanish Student of the Year as a senior.

"Lakeland really helped me grow as a person," Diana says. "The school and the professors did a great job preparing me for my career path and my critical thinking skills were really developed while at Lakeland. I'll always be very grateful for everyone there who helped me reach my potential."

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