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ASU Global Launch program helps alum achieve dreams of career in international diplomacy

Portrait of ASU alum Diana Salas Diaz.

Diana Salas Diaz

February 23, 2023

Growing up the daughter of two public servants from Peru, Diana Salas Diaz had an early passion for helping underserved communities and understanding the role of the government in economic development.

But her goal to pursue a career in international development did not come quickly. She spent over 10 years working in cross-cultural business development, public-private partnerships, diplomacy organizations and nonprofits across the Americas. During that time, she supported regional economic development projects and executed engagement strategies for 35 multinational companies — including Fortune 500 companies — expanding into several Latin American markets.

But Salas Diaz knew that to take her career to the next level, she'd need to improve her English language skills, get a graduate degree and gain more international experience. This realization sparked her decision to apply for a master’s degree in global management at Arizona State University's Thunderbird School of Global Management.

While she was waiting to be admitted, she spent one year in Toronto learning English and another year in Boston taking GRE classes in 2019. By the time she was back in Peru, the world was already in lockdown because of COVID-19, and Salas Diaz knew that she needed to improve her TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) score to be admitted.

In 2020, Salas Diaz decided to put all her energy into improving her English, and before she knew it, she was immersed in a two-month-long program focused on English for graduate admission at ASU Global Launch. She worked diligently through the course, and upon passing, was admitted to ASU; her dreams were becoming a reality in front of her eyes.

Since graduating from the Thunderbird School in May 2022 with a master’s degree in global management and concentrations in global affairs and global businessSalas Diaz is now working as a senior program coordinator for Latin America at the ASU International Development Initiative (IDI). In this role, she coordinates ASU’s global pipeline for opportunities in Latin America and the Caribbean across sectors (education, sustainability, economic growth, health and citizen security) for projects funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, Inter-American Bank, World Bank and corporate funders.

During her time as a student, Salas Diaz achieved far beyond what she could have imagined. She was selected as a PLUS Alliance Student Ambassador for the Transforming Women’s Leadership Pathways initiative in 2020 and the Thunderbird Women in Business president and Latin American Co-President in 2021. Later, she was selected for the Dean’s Fellow Internship with the Phoenix Mayor’s Office and the United Nations. She served as the student fellow for Fundraising and Donor Relations for the Phoenix Committee on Foreign Relations and received the Diplomatic Corps of Arizona Scholarship Award and the Organization of American States Rowe Fund Fellowship. 

“I feel incredibly grateful for the opportunity that Global Launch provided. I hope my story encourages more students from developing countries to learn and improve their English and never give up on their academic dreams,” Salas Diaz said. “If I could give some advice to future Global Launch students, it would be to believe in yourself, have endurance and work hard on pursuing higher education in the U.S.”

Today, thanks to her master’s degree and fluency in English and Spanish, Salas Diaz applies her passion for developing strong connections between the U.S. and Latin America through trade, diplomacy and culture, working closely with Global Operations and coordinating projects with several ASU offices.

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