Meet Paola Diplan

Coming full circle, from being a student in Sociedad to becoming a part of the Sociedad staff, meet Paola Diplan, a STEAM coordinator at Sociedad Latina

By Amisha Kumar

Paola was born and raised in the Dominican Republic and moved to the United States in 2016. Growing up, she prioritized academics and her education. Although it was never initially a career goal for Paola, working in education is something she cherishes today because of her connection with Sociedad Latina.

“Growing up, I always tried to be this ‘good student’…behaving at school and doing my homework, but I never thought about teaching or becoming a teacher, that [was] not in my future goal,” said Paola.

Paola herself used to be a “Sociedad youth.” She described her experience of being a part of the organization as a staff member and being a part of it when she was younger.

“When I started as a youth, I was like very shy. I didn’t like to talk in front of others,” said Paola.

She said a lot of this “shyness” was derived from her lack of confidence in English, as it is her second language. However, Sociedad helped her work on this by providing her with resources and the tools to advance herself.

“In summer, in the morning, I used to go to a school to learn English and do cool projects. In the afternoon…I was able to make some money by working at the elementary school,” said Paola.

Her own positive experience with the organization is what made her want to take the opportunity to become a coordinator and work in education, even though it didn’t align with her future goals.

“I love their [Sociedad Latina’s] passion to help Latinos to succeed in life, which is why I took the opportunity to work with them,” said Paola.

As a coordinator, her responsibilities include facilitating lessons with the STEAM team for the middle school youth and providing curriculum to support the development of different STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) skills. She also helps middle schoolers transition into high school. She finds her role at Sociedad fulfilling because she can relate to the experiences of and see herself in the students she works with.

“Some families are comfortable with telling me about personal issues, and I feel like that is great to have that relationship with parents and youth,” said Paola.

To her, the most rewarding part of her job is the relationships she builds with the youth and their families. Paola continues to work with Sociedad Latina because she believes the organization truly helps create the next generation of leaders in her community [the Latin@ community.]

Paola believes a key factor that helps her build such strong relationships with the students is that she can empathize with them because of her own experiences.

“A lot of my students are Latino, so, you know, it’s like super easy for me to relate with them,” she said.

Talking about her own experiences and issues when she was their age with them is her way of supporting and comforting students.

Paola is a big advocate for Sociedad Latina’s work because of how it helped her when she was younger. The organization’s clear goals and passion for helping Latin@ youth drew Paola into working in the field of education despite it not being her original plan.

“Now, as a coordinator, I’m able to see other students going through that amazing experience, and that really makes me happy,” said Paola.

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