Diana Fuentes-Michel '79

Helping students fulfill their dreams.

Diana Fuentes-Michel '79, Educator

As a child, California Student Aid Commission Executive Director Diana Fuentes-Michel didn't even consider college an option. That's ironic, considering she now heads an organization that distributes $1.3 billion annually in financial aid to low-income individuals seeking a college degree.

The first-generation college graduate, Diana credits her success in part to her mentors, from her grandmother to the nuns at her high school to former LMU President Donald Merrifield, S.J., who pushed her to put her LMU degree to good use. "They got me to understand community matters. They showed me I could create change."

After graduating, Diana received a California State Senate Fellowship — one of the first Latinas to earn this honor. Working for Sen. Diane Watson, she "got a taste" for public policy, thus launching a career that ranged from advising the governor on higher education policy to filling her current position. In 2010-11 alone, the commission oversaw the distribution of Cal Grants to more than 330,000 worthy students. She also continues to reach out to these students personally, with the message that if they have the will, they
will succeed.

"My mentors made me aware of the possibilities, so now I take time to mentor as much as I can."