Lily Diaz

Greenville Technical College

"Even if you don’t know what you want to do, technical college provides the perfect environment for students to come and figure that out."

I was born in Houston, Texas. I moved to South Carolina the day that I graduated high school. I was ready to branch out and try living somewhere smaller, and my godparents were living in Greenville. 

My home situation is different than most. Most students my age have a support group that includes their parents. My relationship with my biological parents isn’t the best, so I lean on my godparents for guidance. While their support is so helpful, there are times when I am facing decisions about the next step in my life and wish that I also had my biological parents to lean on. 

This is the story of how I found direction from a new beginning in a new place.  

 

What have you had to overcome or defy in your life? 

When I was in high school, I went through some things that made me feel unsafe living at home. At 17, I decided to leave and get my own apartment, which was really scary. I knew that I didn’t want to keep putting myself in a position to live somewhere I didn’t feel safe. 

My roommate was my older brother, but I still paid half the bills. There were days he’d be like, “I don’t want to take you to school,” but I still needed to get to school. I would Uber there and back, which was expensive. Other times I would stay at a friend’s house because I knew they would give me a ride in the morning. It was complicated and a struggle, but I was really proud of myself because I stuck to it and did whatever I had to in order to make it through school. There were so many different things working to keep me from getting an education, but I refused to let them stop me because I knew I was so close to not only graduating high school, but actually going to college. 

 

How did you decide that technical college was the right option for you?

My elementary school and middle school were small. I liked that because it meant that I knew everyone. My high school was much bigger, so I didn’t know as many people and didn’t really interact with anyone who wasn’t in my classes. I participated in a lot of extracurricular activities, including student council and dance team, but those people already had friend groups, so I always felt like an add-on.

When I moved to South Carolina I didn’t know where I wanted to go to school. I was really interested in Greenville Tech for financial reasons. I didn’t realize they had housing, which was a plus because it meant I’d still get to have the “college experience.” 

The classes, professors and students were great. Class sizes are much smaller, and the professors engage with students unlike traditional colleges where you just get assignments and go through them. Between the activities and level of engagement and conversation, it just worked better for me. 

 

What do you like about Greenville Tech? 

I like the different programs that they offer. This year, I was able to start up a dance team alongside two other students with the permission of our director. 

I’m currently an RA on campus, which is also great. I love doing events on campus and gathering everyone together at night. Not being able to do so has been killing me during this whole quarantine thing. We used to have so many different events, whether it was outside or in the community center. There’s something for everyone. 

 

What’s a misperception about technical college you’d like to correct? 

Technical college may be different, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not just as good as a four-year university. Technical college is smaller, so you get to know a variety of people in a deeper way. It offers so many different programs and fields of study. Even if you don’t know what you want to do, technical college provides the perfect environment for students to come and figure that out. 

 

What advice do you have for someone considering their future? 

Take time and really think about what it is that you want to do. Explore your interests, find what it is that you love, find things that you enjoy doing and then figure out how those pieces fit together to form a future. I’ve always been told that you should do something that you would want to do even if you weren’t getting paid to do it. Your field of study is something that you’re going to think about every day.