For as long as he can remember, Jose Eduardo Morales-Diaz (West High School Class of 2013) was determined to attend college.
However, as a high school senior, Morales-Diaz wasn’t sure how he would be able to make those dreams a reality. Originally from Mexico, but raised in Salt Lake City, Morales-Diaz didn’t qualify for most federal financial aid and other financial assistance programs. However, a scholarship from the West High Alumni Association (WHAA) allowed Morales-Diaz to enroll at Salt Lake City Community College in Fall 2013.
“I was a low-income, first-generation student, and, at the time, my family and I were going through rough, economic and financial hardships,” said Morales-Diaz.
“Looking back six years after receiving the scholarship, I simply would not have been able to attend any college without the generous support of the West High Alumni Scholarship.”
As a student at SLCC, Morales-Diaz volunteered as a peer mentor, connecting other first-generation, underrepresented students navigate college resources. Through mentoring, he realized his passion was serving others and wanted to help other underserved individuals navigate higher education opportunities.
To this end, after graduating with an associate’s degree from SLCC, Morales-Diaz transferred to the University of Utah to further pursue a degree and eventual career in higher education, finishing his undergraduate degree in 2017. Currently, Morales-Diaz is pursuing a master’s degree in Educational Leadership & Policy, and is on track to graduate in May 2019.
Morales-Diaz, who currently works as a graduate assistant for the A. Ray Olpin University Union at the U of U, plans to continue to serve as a mentor and help other students pursue their educational goals.
“I plan on building college access programming and creating stronger educational partnerships with communities, local businesses, school districts, and other public schools, such as West High School,” said Morales-Diaz. “I envision myself in a role where I can promote an inclusive, campus community by cultivating a welcoming environment that serves all students, faculty, and staff.”
Morales-Diaz attributes the generous support of other West High alumni through his WHAA Scholarship in making his college and professional goals attainable.
“The scholarship that I generously received from the West High Alumni Association allowed me to reach presumably unattainable heights by giving me the resources to pursue my academic and professional goals of attending college, transfer to a four-year institution, and now be in graduate school,” said Morales-Diaz.
“I believe it is our social responsibility to become a helping hand in the success of others by giving back to our community of graduating West High students through our individual and collective financial resources.”
To learn more about scholarships funded by the generous support of West High alumni and supporters, or to make a donation to the West High Alumni Association Scholarship Fund, please visit westalumni.org/donate.
Note: WHAA Scholarship application questions for the West High Class of 2019 will be released in mid/late February. Applications will open in March 2019.