Student Speaker



photo of student speaker Patricia Diaz MaldonadoPatrisia Diaz Maldonado

Student Speaker
Associate of Arts, General Science  |  Associate of Arts, Liberal Arts (Social and Behavioral Science)  |  Certificate of Achievement, IGETC


Almost every day, Patrisia gets a call from someone at SMC asking the same question: Can you translate for us?

“Even people who don’t know me know to call me,” says the 21-year-old Ukrainian native. “All they’ve been told is that there’s a student who speaks Russian and Ukrainian who can help.”

Graduating today with Associate degrees in General Science (Honors) and IGETC, Patrisia has become invaluable to SMC, not just for her fluency in those languages, but also her ability to make new students — many fleeing the war in Ukraine — feel welcome.

“They’re starting from scratch,” Patrisia says. “I understand that because I was like that, too. Only I made the choice to move here. They didn’t.”
Patrisia first left Ukraine in 2019 to study economics at SMC. But following a two-year break during the pandemic, she returned to school with an interest in education. Eventually, she settled on cognitive neuroscience.

When she isn’t in class or serving as an ad hoc translator and one-person welcoming party, Patrisia stays busy. During her time at SMC, she joined the Cheer Team and served with the Inter-Club Council (ICC) — first as a delegate, and then as vice president — all while working full time. “I practically live on campus at this point,” she jokes.

As she prepares to transfer to UC Berkeley this fall, Patrisia hopes to return to Ukraine
someday, where she’d like to open a school. And while she’s at it, maybe even improve the entire
education system.