Bobby Diaz, a psychology and biology double major at UTM, has been involved in various activities throughout his undergraduate career, both on- and off-campus.
His involvement with OUT@UTM, for example, which started back in 2009 and continues to this day, and with the Psychology Association of Undergraduate Students of Erindale (PAUSE) since 2007, are just two of the various avenues through which he channels his interests and passions. For the 2011/12 year, Diaz is serving as the social coordinator for OUT@UTM, the LGBTQ coordinator at UTMSU, one of two student chair representatives at the Academic Students’ Society at UTMSU (ASAC), an Erindale College Council representative, and a member of the U of T Pride Planning Committee. Diaz will also represent UTM this May at the Canadian University Queer Services Conference (CUQSC), taking place at the University of Regina. The conference involves universities from across Canada and their LGBTQ campus groups.
“My passion for working with the LGBTQ community started off at UTM working with OUT@UTM, but as demonstrated this year and hopefully more in the future, my work will continue to expand its great reach, moving from simply Mississauga to [the] GTA and even Ontario-wide—the service that I help provide at the Sherbourne Health House is Ontario-wide specifically. My work started at the university level is simply just a starting point,” said Diaz. “The best part of being a part of an organization and the work I do there is it provides me with practical experience for the field that I eventually want to have a career in, that is, counselling and working with LGBTQ youth at the professional level.
“I am able to continue my work that I am wholeheartedly passionate about, and it’s something that is able to give back to the community that I am very much a part of,” he says. “People and the media always talk about ‘it gets better’, but the problem is, how? I believe the work that I do challenges that whole ideal and instructs people on making it better.”
This past year, Diaz started volunteering in Toronto as a counsellor at an organization (which cannot be named for confidentiality) affiliated with the Sherbourne Health Centre, where he works with LGBTQ youth aged 16 to 26, and where Diaz provides counselling on various topics regarding support, information, and referrals with issues that involve LGBTTIQQ2S-identified individuals.
“My university experience thus far has been an amazing one, filled with memories and friends that I know I’ll have for a lifetime. But as with anything, the university experience is very much transitory—we move on to bigger and better things,” said Diaz. “Knowing full well that my undergraduate experience is ending soon, I wanted to expand my social and networking circles that go beyond the University of Toronto tri-campus and bridge into other organizations with a wider outreach.
“After I graduate, I plan on continuing my work with the LGBTQ community and pursue further my aspirations in clinical and counselling psychology. UTM has directly inspired me and my career choice through the professors in psychology,” he continues. “In my fourth year, I had an epiphany […] as inspired by my professors here in UTM and through my work with the student union; that is, to work in a career within the realm of developmental psychology—a calling that has been in front of me all along. Through this field, I can make a difference in the lives of people who need it most, greatly affecting how individuals live and evidently how they affect other people around them.”