Author Archives: Leticia Diaz, Chemistry

About Leticia Diaz, Chemistry

Hello UIC-Familia! I am a 5th Year Senior Majoring in Chemistry. I am graduating in May 2012, and plan to come back to UIC to receive a Master’s Degree in Energy Engineering. I grew up in “La Villita” in South Lawndale. I have two AMAZING parents, three exemplary siblings, and three precious nephews. I am a CHANCE Ambassador; I mentor and assist students that are in majors similar to mine and ultimately help them go through some of the same struggles that I have gone through. I am a proud board member of SHPE-UIC, a national organization that promotes the advancement of Latinos through STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Awareness. Our UIC chapter is recognized as being the Most Valuable Large Chapter in the Nation.

Grandpa’s Kid Too!


This past week was full of exciting events. The first of them was the start of the 2012 CHANCE for CHAnge STEM Camp. I was lucky enough to be named one of the group leaders for the camp. This year we had a larger group of students than any other year. I am in charge of the older group of students in total there are about thirty-eight students and eighteen of them are in my group. I am very pleased with my group; they show a lot of interest in the STEM fields. I can’t wait for the rest of the summer.

This Sunday was my Grandpa’s (Lieutenant Colonel Matich’s) JROTC Open House. In reality, he is not blood related to me but he has had a profound impact on my whole family. LTC Matich is the now retired Commandant of the General George S. Patton Academy at Farragut Career Academy. All of my siblings (two brothers and one sister) attended this high school and we all have very fond memories of Colonel Matich and the amazing things he did for every cadet (military student) in the program.

 The recognitions started.

When I stepped into the academy I saw that the trophy cases are still accumulating prizes, the hallway continues to accumulate memorabilia and gifts from donors, and our Patton Hall (where we would practice drill and honor guard, recite poems, and sometimes just hide from grandpa) was even more stunning than I remember. Although not much had changed in Patton Hall, the murals were already there when I was but this time they came to life.

 The Hallway and one of the many trophy cases

Patton Hall Wall Mural of General Patton

Another Patton Hall Mural

Another Great Patton Hall Mural

My Favorite Mural in Patton Hall

He led the academy and the school through one of the toughest time periods, where gang violence and early pregnancy were the norm. He was able instill a sense of pride, citizenship, and leadership through his playful scolding, high standards, and care. Patton Academy has seen innumerable recognition in various competitions like the Drill Team, Color Guard, Drum and Bugle, Raider’s Challenge, and Orienteering.

He is even great at planning events for the academy to grow stronger as a family. The annual picnic with different team building activities like the egg toss, potato sack race, watermelon eating competition, and the infamous upper classmen vs. lower classmen giant ball game. We also had dances and the annual military ball (somewhat like homecoming) where all the ladies would wear nice dresses and the male cadets would wear the Dress Green Uniform with a bow tie and white shirt.

 More Trophies, this is not it, there was another case I missed.

Aside from competitions and fun he also instilled the need for service in all of us. We had periodical community clean up events, we participated in the Junior Achievement Program where we taught children about different careers, and we marched in parades throughout the city and suburbs.

When I was a senior, I was part of the Staff which means that I was one of the leaders working directly under his guidance, more specifically, the Special Projects Officer. I had different specific tasks and duties as a leader and his professional guidance helped me tremendously. His attention to detail meant that anything less than perfect was unacceptable. This perfection was passed down to all of the cadets, we would have our brass gleaming and our uniforms squared away, so much that when we had visitors they always complimented our appearance.

Colonel Matich will definitely be missed but I am sure that his successor will definitely have the right guidance to continue the legacy of excellence that my Grandpa has established. After all, his entire era seems to be meticulously synchronized and documented under his high tech cameras and camcorders. He would take a lot of pictures at every event like a proud parent.  At the open house he even had laptops with pictures from every academic year.

 Colonel getting his things ready.


I look forward to someday also making the type of difference he makes.

Thanks for reading!


P.S. Here is one of the many pictures of pictures I took from his presentation.



This week was AWESOME! In between a tough work week in a really hot office, I was able to make some time with my nephews. We went to the Shedd Aquarium, we did not expect the long lines at the aquarium but it was well worth it.  Once inside the kids were so excited. My youngest nephew, Fabian, was so happy he would run ahead and call his mom to go see fish and marine wildlife. Of course, seeing the clownfish (“Nemo) was one of the highlights of the tanks. Another highlight was the dolphins’ show my nephew, Fred, came out of the show very excited and describing every single aspect of the show. It was a really fun day I love spending time with my nephews; they are the funniest kids I know.

They didn’t even want to take a picture

After a lot of preparation, the CHANCE Program hosted the Third Annual CHANCE for CHAnge STEM Camp Orientation. The event was held at the Charles A. Hayes Center. As soon as you walk into the Hayes Center you are welcomed by the rich history of the Hayes Family. There are a lot of historical photographs of Mr. Hayes and other historical figures like Harold Washington and Martin Luther King.

After taking in the history of the center I walked into the events center. I was surprised to see so many influential University staff and company representatives. I was also happy to see that the amount of students in the camp grew. The attendants enjoyed a delicious dinner and inspirational speech by Algenoy Alexander, who was able to inspire many in the room to strive for greatness.  I am very excited for the STEM Camp, it is always a highlight of my summer.

After the Orientation

Thanks for reading this week!

It’s Time!

Hello UIC Community!

This week was very exciting. We had the opportunity to host a first grade visit for one of our advisors. The kids were such a delight, they really enjoyed the campus and the small chemistry experiment they did.  They had the opportunity to get their hands dirty and learn a little bit about chemistry. After they left, we had a good amount of cleaning to do but it was worth it.

After four years of teenage problems and all of the good and bad things that come from this time period, my nieces have graduated high school. I was invited by my older niece, Mari, to be part of this very important event in her life that occurred right in our campus. Her graduation was held in the UIC Pavilion.

We had some time between dropping her off and the start of the ceremony to stop by the store to get her some treats. Her ceremony had great highlights: a great choir, an awesome band, and inspirational speakers. After everything was said and done, none of it really mattered the only thing they had in mind was the change they were about to go through. It reminded me of my high school graduation, there was a lot of excitement, anxiety, and sadness.

It’s good to know that in times like these, the people that will never change are your family and your real friends. It might sound cheesy but it is true, especially my family. As you might know, from previous blogs, every Sunday is park day. I also discovered that I enjoy spending time with my parents we have grown to be more childish together. I can honestly say that no one makes me laugh more than them.  Staying in touch with friends is not as hard as it seems. I think the necessary component is compromise.

At the end of the day, it’s not the end of the world and now you have the opportunity to really find out if your friendship was as strong as you thought.

Thanks for reading!



Hello UIC!

This week has just started, yet it is turning up busy. We (SHPE-UIC) just finished the LeaderSHPE Summit. It’s a day committed to strengthening the leadership in the organization. It was full of insight, networking, and laughs. We were very fortunate to have a lot of university personnel lead the workshops of the summit. Most of the sponsors and campus partners for the organization were there to support the organization.

We started off with a brief introduction from me on our electronic tools to complete our tasks. After my brief workshop Kendal Parker, the Director of the CHANCE program, presented on how to network and the power of networking. Luis Duarte, Acting Associated Director of LARES, led us in a workshop to stress the importance of Academics and gave us tips to study. Florencio Diaz, Director of Advising and Outreach for the Mathematics department and SHPE-UIC Chapter Advisor, led our discussion of on campus resources. Guillermo Alvarez and Socorro Quiroz, Alcatel Lucent Engineers and UIC Alumni, led an interactive workshop on becoming a leader. Lizbeth Barajas, Recruitment and Admissions Counselor and SHPE-UIC Chapter Advisor, led a workshop on proposal writing basics and the importance of them. Jaime Velazquez, Interim Director of the Office of Career Services, led a fun workshop on how to be prepared with the right career tools for success. Gerald Smith, Director of MERRP, closed our summit with a few tips on how to maintain a professional demeanor.

As you can see it was a full day with a lot of very important campus administrators. I am sure that the board members enjoyed it and had a lot of fun.

 Discussion during lunchtime

Thanks for Reading!


Feels Like Summer!

Hello UIC!

It sure feels like summer in the city. My neighborhood is packed, street vendors are out and barbeques are a weekly norm. Every summer there is a place where most people go to on a Sunday day. That place is, La Plaza Garibaldi, it’s like a concert outside, there are food vendors, advertisers, bull riding, horses, and music. Since this past weekend was Memorial Day it was open on Monday. One of my favorite bands came, La Arrolladora Banda el Limon, although I like them a lot, I do not like to go there because it gets really hot and usually that band comes to other locations. This is one of the main reasons why on Sundays and days when Garibaldi is open there is a lot of traffic in my neighborhood (La Villita, Little Village). It took my brother and me about twenty minutes to go three blocks to my brother’s favorite street vendor.


Living in La Villita, street vendors are found in every corner. Not all of them are the same, some might use different spices, might give more for the same price, and some might seem cleaner than other. Whatever reasons we might have, everyone always has one go to street vendor. My brother’s vendor of choice has her cart right on 26th (La veintiséis) street. When you order a fruit cup from her, you can guarantee that you get enough to feed three or four people. She is not at all skimpy. She also does a good job maintaining her stand clean and always wears gloves when handling food. I know food stands are not for everyone especially not those of weak stomach. If you do want to venture out of the norm, I invite you to Little Village.

                                                        Best Street Vendor

                                                      Gigantic Fruit Cup

My family is completely a summer family. We spend more time together during the summer. This past weekend did not fall short. On Sunday was my nephew’s birthday party, it was really fun. Monday, everyone went over to my cousin’s house for a taco day. It was a good day, the kids played in the kiddy pool, everyone ate tacos, and enjoyed the conversations.

Thanks for Reading!


Starting Summer Right

Hello UIC!

This past weekend was very eventful. Last Friday, MERRP (Minority Engineering Recruitment and Retention Program) held its 26th Annual Scholarship Awards Banquet. The night started with a quick trip to Juarez High School to pick up our SHPE Jr. Students. Once we arrived, we were greeted with light appetizers and a lot of networking opportunities. We had the opportunity to talk to a lot of company representatives and alumni. After the reception, we had dinner and a brief speech from one of our alumni, Jaime Frausto. It was a very good evening after the event we took a lot of group pictures.

 Photo Courtesy of Ms. Barajas

This week two of my friends celebrated their birthday. Victor’s birthday celebration was on Tuesday, we went to a local place to celebrate his day at midnight. It’s not easy to turn a year older but there are certain perks that come with age. On Thursday it was my friend Natalie’s Birthday. A lot of my high school friends went it was at a local Chilli’s. I really enjoy spending time with them our meetings are usually filled with laughs and memories.

This Friday was the first SHPE-UIC Endowment Fundraiser. SHPE-UIC is very lucky to have such dedicated members and alumni. One of the founders of our chapter started the idea of the Endowment and we have started to build some momentum towards it. This is only the first of many future events dedicated to the Endowment. Initiatives like the SHPE-UIC endowment would help many students in their pursuit of higher education while also allowing them to develop their leadership and professional network. If you would like to make a donation to the endowment you can go to:



World Class Visitors Too!

Hello UIC!

The school year is over, grades are up and now we can look forward to a fulfilling summer and fall semester! I hope you school year ended well. This week we had the privilege of hosting the Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis.


This is one of those opportunities that are only afforded to you when you come to a World Class University like UIC. A large amount of the students there had the opportunity to introduce themselves to her and give her some background on who they are. After introductions, Ms. Solis went on to introduce herself and talk about her family, her youth, her previous experience, and her road to the White House. She also told to us about a new initiative to maintain the loan interest rate at a fixed rate.


Students were then encouraged to ask her questions about the new loan initiative, the Youth Build Program, and other issues relating to the department of labor.  She was direct and the students appreciated the time she took to speak with us.  She did give us a lot of useful information. She referred us to useful websites like: and


After the question and answer session we presented her with a plaque and everyone took a group picture with her.  She stayed around to meet with more students and even took pictures with them individually. She is an extremely humble person we are very lucky to have a person of her caliber in such an important national office.


This upcoming weekend there are a lot of things to look forward to, the MERRP/SHPE/NSBE End of Year Banquet, a family (SHPE) outing to Griffin Lounge, and graduation/birthday parties.

‘Till Next Week!



Hey UIC!

Another school year has come and gone, it is great to see friends and family members achieve a milestone in their lives.

My family was fortunate to have our second graduate, my sister graduated from Northeastern Illinois University on Saturday, May 5, 2012. It has been long overdue but she has had two great reasons to defer her graduation. Everyone in the family is very proud of her and we are extremely proud of all of her accomplishments.


Along with my family members graduating, a lot of my extended SHPE Familia graduated on Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday. My good friend Qetsiy’ah and my advisor Lizbeth Barajas graduated on Thursday from the College of Education.

Photo courtesy of Lizbeth Barajas

The College of Engineering graduated on Saturday at 2:00 PM, it was a lot smaller than the other three graduations I attended this year. I was so happy to see my friends some of whom I started my undergraduate degree with graduate. In total about twelve SHPE Familia Members (Jorge, Jose, Carlos, Cristina, Alberto, Dennis, Elizabeth, Gamaliel, Abel, Ricardo, Rafael, and Camilo) graduated on Saturday.

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences graduated on Sunday morning. It was a big graduation I was surprised to see the graduation end on time. Three of my close friends graduated from this college (Lauren, Lourdes, and Hasalia)

A great sense of pride and anticipation has come over me. I cannot wait until I walk down the stage for my undergraduate degree and then for my subsequent degree(s).



Not Just Any Week

Hello Everyone!

I hope your semester has been going GREAT. This last week of the semester has been a whirlwind. In between finishing projects and presenting. I have found a little bit of time to do some other activities around campus. Our intramurals teams played in the semifinals and one of them even made it to the playoffs. It was a great season for our soccer team and I and anxious to see the great things to come next year.

On Tuesday I attended a film screening at the Latino Cultural Center. The movie is called Precious Knowledge. It’s about the Arizona Educational System. In Arizona there is a law that outlaws ethnic studies in Arizona. They were specifically targeting the Tucson Unified School Districts Mexican-American Studies classes. This movie opened my eyes to some of the unconstitutional things that are happening even within the country. I am looking forward to learning more about this dilemma.

Open Discussion about Precious Knowledge and the Arizona ban on ethnic studies.

On Wednesday I attended a talk from the Latino Policy Forum. It extremely eye opening. It really reiterated the notion that we have to empower the community to do great things. One of the things that Sylvia Puente, the Executive Director of the Latino Policy Forum talked about was the large increase that the Latino population has seen. She also talked about early childhood programs and the lack of Latinos enrolled in these programs. After her vivid presentation there was an open discussion with the audience about the educational system. I enjoyed the presentation and I am really looking forward to applying the knowledge learned with my family, friends and co-workers.

During the Latino Policy Forum’s presentation.

Thanks for reading this week!


*Photos by the Latino Cultural Center, Thank You*

Ya Mero!

Hello UIC

This past weekend was relaxing compared to others. On Saturday, I had the opportunity to volunteer with The CHANCE Program for our UIC Cares Event. We had the opportunity to meet students during the ice breaker event and then participated in a panel discussion with other UIC Students. We answered questions about College life, academics, and struggles.

On Sunday, I went to the park with my family. It was really cloudy all day  so we were glad that we had the opportunity to stay in one of picnic groves. We were very lucky to have the grove because about halfway through our day it started to pour. Everything looked beautiful, although it was raining really hard, the breeze ,  smell of rain, and nature was so calming.

After the rain, a large amount of deer came out of the forest. At one point there were about fifteen deer that came out. All of the children were really excited some of them even wanted to run towards them.

On Tuesday was the Engineering Expo, the Expo is like a science fair but scaled to a college level. Engineering students work on a project for sometimes up to two semesters. The project is either an improvement to a current tool or process, or a completely new and innovative tool or process.  a large amount of my friends participated in the Expo I was very happy to see that a large amount of them also received prizes for their ideas.

Later on in the week, SHPE-UIC hosted the Engineering Challenge. Our SHPE Jr. Students competed in a Case Study competition that dealt with issues that they see every day. It was really refreshing to see their thought process, their improvement in presentation skills and their innovation. The ideas they came up with were innovative and practical.

Thanks for reading this week!


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