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.

Almost There!

Hello UIC!

This has been an event full week. My week started off with celebrating Easter with the family. We went to the park for some Easter egg hunting, barbeque, and family time.  All of the adults helped hide the eggs and then the kids went off to find them. My niece and nephews looked so cute trying to find the eggs. They are only around five years old on average so it was really cute to see them run around and instead of taking all the eggs giving some to their cousins.  After the egg hunt everyone started preparing the meal. I appointed myself the guacamole master. I must say although I might be biased, my guacamole was pretty delicious. My cousins and sister prepared the meat. They really outdid themselves; I had forgotten how delicious barbeque meat could be. It’s traditional in my family to fill dried egg shells with confetti and crack them on someone else’s head. Sometimes it really hurts depending on who cracks it on your head.  It can get a little competitive and chases to catch each other usually arise. Overall it was a pleasant Easter Sunday.

The school week was full of studying and a little leisurely time. Along with time to relax while watching a Bull’s game with friends. I also ran for President of SHPE-UIC.  SHPE-UIC is my student organization. We have done a lot of awesome work in the past and I hope that this upcoming year we can attribute even greater successes to our Familia. I was excited to see a lot of the names on the ballot. A lot of the younger generation is becoming more interested in SHPE and that shows the success of the organization and the awareness that organizations like SHPE bring to the Latino community.

Along with recreation and fun I also had more news from my professors. Final’s test dates are starting to be announced. This time of the school semester is usually really joyous but really stressful because there are a lot of projects to hand in before the end yet the anticipation of the end of the semester gives you so much joy.

I hope you enjoyed your week. Thanks for reading this week (sorry for no pictures, I forgot to take some)

Hasta Luego,


Fanesca Time!

Hello UIC!

I hope your semester has been going AWESOME! This week has been full of great events and school work. It’s hard to believe but we are down to the last month of the semester.   Along with a week full of studying I had the opportunity to spend time doing extracurricular activities.

Monday, I had the opportunity to meet Dr. Nassif she is the Special Advisor to the Assistant Secretary for Post-secondary Education. Myself along with about twenty other students had the opportunity to talk to her about our experience, our passion and some obstacles that could hinder our learning experience. We also had the opportunity to hear from her about some of the initiatives at the Federal Government. Along with hearing about them we also had the opportunity to voice our opinion about them.  She was very attentive and had a genuine concern for our needs. It was an overall inspiring experience and I am very thankful for the opportunity.

After my classes and my studying were done for the day, I attended SHPE’s intramural soccer game. We have two official teams and one team with our younger members. On Monday two of the three teams played. Both games were very intense. I felt like if I was watching my national team play in the world cup and the best part was that both teams won their respective games.

The Games were very intense.

Tuesday, was my mega fan’s (Erika Ayala’s) birthday. There isn’t a better way to celebrate a fellow girl’s birthday than to take a trip down to the mall. We went to the Water Tower Place, on our way there we stopped by the water tower. I had never been to either the mall or the tower. The tower is smaller than expected; there were historical facts and pictures on the wall. After we were done with our history lesson for the day, we spent some time in the shops at the water tower. I can tell the birthday girl fully enjoyed her birthday.

Inside the Water Tower

Inside the Water Tower Place

On Friday, my friend (Carlos from Panama) and I went to visit my other friend (Mauricio). We went to visit him because he invited us over for Good Friday Dinner. His family cooked Fanesca, a traditional dish made on Fridays during Lenten.  Fanesca is a soup made with 12 types of grains some include: lentils, corn, garbanzos, and beans. After the Fanesca we had Molo, a dish somewhat like mashed potato but with a lot of favor. For dessert we had peaches and ice cream. After the dinner we stuck around to catch up with him. His mom even made more empanadas. It was an enjoyable dinner and evening, can’t wait for next year.



More empanadas!

Thanks for reading this week!


TAX Season

Hello UIC!

School has had me pretty tied up. I had the opportunity to work on a portion of my midterms during Spring Break. The portions that I did not get to finish I worked on during the week. It has been a hectic week, along with finishing my projects; I also had to prepare my speech. I am glad for all of my classes but I am mostly grateful for my renewable energy classes. They have taught me so much. I even decided to incorporate them in other classes, projects, and everyday scenarios. For instance, after my newfound knowledge of Mountain Top Removal, I had a discussion with my professors about the matter. It really coincided with our lecture on fossil fuels.

After returning from Kentucky, I realized that it is only a couple of weeks from Tax Day. Tax season is almost over you might be asking yourself, have you done your taxes? The answer is no.  Usually my W-2s and 1098-Ts come in the mail. This year, I have no idea what happened to them. I do not remember opting out of the hard copy form.  Along with not receiving them in the mail, another reason is that doing your taxes takes up a lot of time. I would fill them out myself if my accounting vocabulary were better. The year I tried to fill it out, the language confused me the frightening thought of messing up and getting audited stopped me from completing it. I usually go to one of the non-profit organizations that help to fill them out.

One of the organizations,  TAP, usually works down the street from my house. Although they are so come to me, filling out your taxes in one of these facilities is a daylong event. Usually they offer service on Saturday mornings. You usually have to get there about 7:00 AM and by the time, all of your paper work is done, you get home around 12:00 PM.  I know free things come at a cost and I should just go. The problem is that I usually either work, have family or student organization events on Saturdays.  In short, I am looking for another alternative to fill out my taxes.

I cannot wait for the upcoming week. SHPE-UIC is hosting nominations and the Easter Outreach and the CHANCE Program is hosting a workshop on Engineering Internships. I am sure all of the events will turn out great.

‘Till Next Week,


Spring in Kentucky!

Hola UIC!

I have just come back from one of the most AWESOME trips I have ever taken. I had the pleasure of attending alternative spring break with the Newman Center. It was a service trip to the Appalachian region in Kentucky.  Each day was different from the other in every aspect.

We left on Sunday at dawn, we had morning mass and then headed out. The drive to Kentucky seemed longer than the drive back. We made a quick stop at Arby’s for lunch and then continued on our journey.  The Kentucky roads were very curvy, I was surprised that I did not get car sick. Although they were curvy, they were spectacular with a lot of rock formations, colorful trees and streams. When we finally arrived at the campsite (Camp Andrew Jackson) we had a wonderful dinner followed by orientation.  We were also broken down into crews (mine was the Green Crew). After an eventful day we headed to bed or to the lunchroom where we spent some time with our new friends from school.

Kentucky’s Breathtaking sights.

The days started early, almost everyone was up by about 6:15 AM.  On Monday, we started with breakfast and a quick orientation followed by a trip to our worksite. I had the pleasure of working with very motivated peers (Mayra, Danielle, Megan, Jake, Steven, and Zhou) and inspiring crew leaders (Larry, Tom, and Dorothy). On the first day we concentrated on getting the house ready for our siding by taking out some boards and picking up nails from the ground.  After we came back from the worksite we had the opportunity to take a bath and have supper before the musical entertainment started. We were entertained by Mitch, who sings folk music from the Appalachia region, every one of his songs was meaningful and told a different story.  After the performance, we had our individual college reflection time (in which we talked about our experience and reflected on it) and then headed to the cafeteria to play an almost never ending UNO game.

Our Never Ending UNO Game

On Tuesday, the day started almost the same as Monday without the orientation portion. We headed to our campsite a bit earlier. Larry, one of our crew leaders, brought his trailer to the worksite. It contained anything and everything that could be needed to work.  I was surprised by the confidence that everyone had in us I used a lot of different power tools even though I had never even used a drill before. We worked on the siding by setting down some pink insulation to make it a bit easier for when we put up the actual vinyl siding. I also had the opportunity to help put two new windows on the house. After our workday ended we came back, had supper, and showered before our presentation. We had a very interesting presentation by Father Rausch. He talked to us about a new way of obtaining coal (Mountain Top Removal) that has been devastating the ecosystem and the health of the Appalachian residents. This system consists of blowing up portions of Coal Mountains and then excavating and removing the coal. Because of this way of mining, a lot of hazardous materials run off to the water ways and they have been inflicting on the health of the residents for years. I was extremely surprised to find out about this. If you would like to know more about mountain top removal, you should check out this website: Rausch talking to us about MTR.

On Wednesday, the workday was filled with good chaos. I call it good chaos because we were joined by another crew (the black crew) and by ladies who were working with another portion of the Christian Appalachian Project (called Healing Rain). With their help, our worksite worked on a deck, vinyl siding, and drywall.  I love working with a lot of people it really makes me feel at home. I grew up in a big family; chaos is almost my middle name. On Wednesday we also had the most delicious donuts and soft drinks (Ale-8-One).  After we came back from our worksite on Wednesday we had free time. Our school group decided to go hiking. Our route started off rough with a large upward hike. After the route evened out a bit, we took pictures on rock formations and continued our journey. We came upon more rock formations. I tried to climb it but my foot slipped and I ended up with a small temporary souvenir from our hike. Our hiked had started around 7:00 PM and almost halfway in, the sunset and our trip back was in the dark. We were very lucky to have Alex, a UIC Alumni and experienced volunteer, guide us back to camp.  The way back was a bit scary because sometimes the ground wasn’t as visible and the way down was steep.

On Thursday, our last day of actual work, we finished the siding and helped with some of the other smaller tasks.  On Thursday we also had our Family/Student Appreciation we invited our family (the family whose house we were working on) and we had the opportunity to share our experience with everyone else who attended the trip. After the dinner, we came back to our camp and had reflection time with our college.  Almost no one went to sleep early on Thursday night. Everyone was busy saying good bye and finishing their affirmations (notes to our CAP community in which we write something positive to everyone who worked with us).

The Green Team

On Friday, we ended our service time with CAP by filling out some paperwork and saying goodbye to our spectacular crew leaders and members. After we packed our bags, we headed back to Chicago. We made a short stop in Berea, a little town in Kentucky with a lot of old time shops and centers. We also stopped in Louisville for lunch as a group.

Our Quick Stop in Louisville for Lunch.

Ending the trip was not easy, everyone that is part of the Christian Appalachian Project made the experience enjoyable. The cooks, made delicious meals and always greeted us early in the morning and after our workday with big smiles and positive attitudes. I even considered them my temporary mother figures, I broke out and asked them for help with the getting rid of some itchy hives in my arms.  The staff all had their own way of motivating us with their morning devotions and instructions. The students were all passionate and very hard working. Our crew leaders all had so much experience and patience for our inexperience.  I can definitely say that I could not have spent my Spring Break doing anything better.

The CAP Community

When I came back from my trip I was anxious to see my family. My sister planned “brothers and sisters night” It was fun, all of my nephews were there. My youngest nephew, Fabian even helped me read my affirmations by setting them out all over the table top and floor. It was nice to come back to my amazing family after a whole week without them.

Thanks for reading this week!


*Photos generously shared by the Christian Appalachian Project, Andrea Hernandez, Anna Slota and Mark Ayala. Mark also made a YouTube video about the experience, check it out:

Pre-Spring Break Jitters!

Hey Y’all!

This past weekend was my nephew’s fifth birthday. He is such a happy kid. His parents had his birthday party at “Chi Chis” (Chuck E. Cheese’s) as he calls it. It was so much fun I never had as much fun at a child’s birthday party. All of his friends and cousins really enjoyed themselves; they had a lot of room to play and to just be kids. Also, as I found out they LOVE pizza it kind of reminds me of the Ninja Turtles. Coming from a very fun weekend it was a little had to refocus this week.

This week is the week before Spring Break. The excitement is noticed around campus. Everyone has exams or projects due this week. For others like me we have a little bit of everything. My group and I had a presentation about our final project. I really like it, it’s a mix of engineering, marketing and business. The project shows a lot of promise and it could even work in a real life scenario.

Yesterday, after my presentation I went to the CHANCE Ambassador FUN-A-THON, it was really fun and a lot of people went.  I was one of the Ambassadors who planned it. I wish I could have been there for the entire time. There were karaoke, games, and food what more can we ask of an event? It was a very proud moment to walk into a packed event.

Along with papers and presentations, today I have my second Linear Algebra exam. My first exam went well but not good enough. I have really been trying really hard to get an even better score than the first exam.

Enjoy Spring Break! I‘ll be in Kentucky (I haven’t packed YET and I leave TOMORROW)!

Have an AWESOME Week!


A Conference to Remember

Hola UIC!

This past weekend was a very memorable one. It started with the I am… WOMAN Conference it was definitely a must for the UIC female population. The Conference started off with the Networking event on Friday, which was filled with motivation and tips. The conference then went on to Saturday.

On Saturday along with helping the presenters with their supplies for their presentations I also had the opportunity to take some pictures to show you what I saw.

The day started off with a continental breakfast and a panel discussion. The panel consisted of mentors, very powerful women from all walks of life. Almost every profession represented. They gave everyone a lot of helpful advice. Their sincerity and passion for their careers was evident.

The amount of useful knowledge that all of the attendants were given was evident. I looked around the room and saw all of the attendants with pen and paper writing down the tips that the women gave.  It was exactly was a conference is, an exchange of ideas for progression.

The day then separated into separate breakout sessions. I decided to attend the “Tips to Professional Dress” workshop. The presenter was very knowledgeable in her subject area. Her presentation along with being insightful was also very interactive. The workshop attendants were also lucky enough to receive a copy of her book.

After the workshop we came back to the main conference room for lunch. I was lucky enough to sit with one of the mentors. She had an inspiring story of perseverance. Although life had brought different conflicts her way, she was able to succeed and follow her passion. I also sat with other women who were in various colleges at UIC with different life goals. Along with a delicious lunch, we had the opportunity to listen and be motivated by Lameisha Taylor, a very passionate woman who has overcome various obstacles and is overall an amazing individual.

After lunch we had another break out session. I attended the Entrepreneurship workshop which gave us an insight to how to start our own business and how to market ourselves. The workshop presenter even hosted an elevator speech competition. Various attendees competed and they were surprised to know that they would be sponsored to attend the Entrepreneurs Conference in Chicago.

Thanks for reading this week!


More RSB Please!

Hello UIC!

This past weekend was the High School Regional Science Bowl. For me it started off a bit sour. On my way to pick up my niece I got a flat tire. Since I had to go to the event my cousin let me borrow his car to get to the first bus stop at Curie High School. We rode the school bus from Curie High School passing through Juarez Community Academy and Schurz High School to our final destination in Evanston. Thank you to Qetsiy’ah for the picture.

The volunteers being debriefed. The excitement was building.

It was nice to see so many alumni volunteer for the event. The competition rooms were full and the kids were all really excited. The day started off with the practice rounds and went on to the competition rounds. I took my niece who had a team from Curie. After the event she was so happy about it that she told me she would bring another team from Curie next year. It was overall a very fun and exhausting day and it was all worth it.

On the weekend, I also had the pleasure to see my Aunt, my cousin and my niece from Minnesota. I was very glad to see them; they are a delight to have around. Although they came to see my uncle who is in the hospital, we had the opportunity to share some time together while watching my older niece’s wedding. My aunt is absolutely the nicest woman I know but although she is a nice person, she is very strong and does not let anyone upset her or take advantage of her.

This Weekend is the” I AM WOMAN Conference” I was honored to be part of the planning committee. It is especially exciting because it is the first event of its kind. Usually when we go to conferences the workshops are on the most part led by men. In this conference all the workshops are led by women and the conference will be highly assisted by college and professional women. More details on this next week.

Thanks for reading this week!


Por Fin! (Finally)

Hello UIC!

Last Friday, I went to eat Chilean food with my good friends (Carlos and Mauricio). This has now been our sixth restaurant together in search of good Latin American home cooking.  The other restaurant countries of origin were, Panama, Guatemala, Colombia, Mexico, and  Ecuador. Some might think that because most Latin Americans share the same language, the food might be the same; this couldn’t be further from the truth. All Countries have their own traditional dishes, spices and customary ways to cook food.  The Chilean restaurant, Rapa Nui, was definitely one of the surprising ones.

We started off with chips and aji (hot sauce). The hot sauce was not as spicy as imagined but pretty tasty.

We then went on to order some empanadas, since we were in a Chilean Restaurant the traditional Chilean empanadas are oven baked. Empanadas can be made with a large variation of filling, we tried the spinach empanada, ground beef baked empanada (it has ground beef, a boiled egg, black olives and other spices) , and cheese empanada.


After the empanadas came our main dish. It was a Parrillada Chilena (Chilean Grilled Platter). I was surprised when the food came. It was so much meat it could have fed about 5 of us. Something that I noticed that is different about the Chilean way of eating is that they did not serve rice and beans with the salad, which is something that is customary with most Latin American main dishes.

After our meat feast we decided to share a dessert, mill hojas (it’s a pastry made with a lot of really thin layers of dough and cajeta, a type of caramel made with milk). It was very tasty.


Overall it was a good first time experience at Rapa Nui, we were full and satisfied.



This weekend I also had a chance to volunteer with the CHANCE Program at the Pacific Garden Mission. It was a good experience but it was also a very sad one. Along with volunteering, I also had the chance to see all of my nephews. My house was full of noise and energy. The children really made a difference in our family mood. Also, since I did not have the chance to see them or my sister on my birthday, they brought me and my brother a cake. It was a nice gesture of them.

On Thursday, I attended another Basketball Game. My organization was funding through the “Wear the Letters Earn the Cash” program. The game was pretty exciting and pretty close, I was also pleasantly surprised to see President Hogan and Chancellor Allen-Meares. During half time a unicyclist made some very impressive tricks with plates while on a unicycle, she would throw the plates from her foot towards the top of her head.

Thanks for reading this week. This weekend will be full of studying and the High School Regional Science Bowl, very exciting.


Sixth Week Anxiety!

Hola UIC!

It’s the Sixth week of the semester. I hope your semester has been going AWESOME so far. Hope those exams are treating you well. This week I had two exams and one speech. I did pretty well on my Math Exam and I am waiting for my Physics Exam results.  So far I like my Math Class but things are starting to get a bit more abstract. I really like that my classes are starting to coincide and complement each other well.

As I mentioned last week, it was my birthday, I had a good time with my friends on Friday night. We went to the Vagina Monologues. The monologues were really empowering. They were performed by different women from all over campus. I even saw Michelle Geddes; her performance was very empowering and fresh. After the monologues, my friends and I went to Lalo’s to dance the night away. It was really fun and I loved having friends from all different parts of my life there, it was a nice feeling.

After a fun night, it was time to prepare for the exams on Monday and the SHPE Jr Event. The SHPE Jr. Event gave us a chance to provide a different type of event for the SHPE Jr. Students. They had a chance to shadow some of our UIC members (Diana, Emmanuel, and Perla), talk to our chapter advisors, tour the school, and compete in a friendly competition with students from other organizations. With an event as big as this one,  a lot of help was needed to make it a success. It could not have been a success without my friends (Victor, Anthony, and Janis).

On Tuesday, Valentine’s Day SHPE-UIC had a Sale in the Student Center East. Along with selling flowers and chocolate, there was a panda that was taking pictures in exchange for donations. It was successful and a lot of fun as well. There are a lot of pictures on the SHPE-UIC Facebook Page, you should check them out.

Have an AWESOME Weekend!


*Next Week, Chilean food review*

Weekend Adventure!

Hello UIC!

Another week has passed! This weekend was very eventful and very rewarding.

My weekend started off with the Illinois Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (ILS-AMP) Conference on Friday. It is a conference like no other. It is empowering and informational. From the moment we arrive, we were learning. Dinner was followed by an insightful presentation on nanoparticles. I was very pleased with the topic and very relevant to me. We had actually discussed nanoparticles in class only a couple of weeks ago.

The best dessert, carrot cake with cream cheese spread

During the Nanoparticle presentation

Aside from gaining a lot from the conference itself, it was held in a very upscale hotel. It was held in the Blackstone Hotel, we were told that it was the meeting place of Alcapone. We even scoured the hotel to find the infamous Barbershop, which we were disappointed to see had turned into a regular conference room. We did find a painting of Alcapone on our way to the Barbershop.

           The infamous Barbershop

The painting we found.

After dinner there was also the Poster Session Set-Up. I was glad to see so many UIC posters. The night ended with a very well organized social that was brought together by my two kids (Dori and Roberto).  The DJ was very good, he had a good amount of the attendees dancing until he left.

The Poster Session

After a fun night, came the dreaded early morning. I was part of the Regional Science Bowl (RSB) Committee, so it meant that we had to wake up very early on Saturday to finish last minute details for the competition.  I also, had the important task of scorekeeping. Getting acquainted with the rules and point system took a while, but it was very fun at the same time.

                          Tensions were high before the competition.

It was AWESOME to see the kids compete and to get really excited about the subject areas. It was also great to see old friends who graduated also volunteering. It was a great way to catch up and spend some time doing something great. The High School RSB will be on February 25th, I can’t wait!

This week was also my Birthday Week. I was pleasantly surprised when my workplace gave me and my co-worker a cake. It was nice gesture.

Although we haven’t found any time to go eat some Chilean food with my close friends (Carlos, Lauren, and Mauricio), next week we will surely give each other sometime.

Thanks for reading this week!


Page 2 of 3123