Routte explained that she believes Salgado Huicochea’s passion is contagious for other students — in a good way. Being a leader in so many different departments on campus has allowed her to break down barriers for students who may have not been as involved, inviting them to participate more on campus.
“One of the things that stands out about her is her ability to really authentically connect with people,” Routte said. “She makes whoever she interacts with feel like they are loved and they can do it.”
Salgado Huicochea has been involved with the Moreau Center since early in her freshman year. Last spring break, she traveled to the U.S.-Mexico border on the Border Immersion to learn more about the human rights issues involved in immigration. It was on this trip, only one year ago, that Salgado Huicochea met her best friend, senior education and Spanish major Molly Steiner.
“We always joke that it feels like we have known each other for a lot longer than a year,” Steiner said. “Diana is just honestly the most gentle, compassionate, thoughtful human on the face of this planet. I have never met anybody like her.”
Despite her very busy schedule, Salgado Huicochea makes time to have fun and celebrate life. Her Instagram bio reads: “Loving God, you are the factual joy of every human heart.” And her account is full of smiling, happy pictures of Salgado Huicochea adventuring with her loved ones.
Although it is sometimes hard for her and Steiner to connect due to Salgado Huicochea’s busy schedule and Steiner’s commitments with student teaching, Steiner said they make time.
Salgado Huicochea lives at home with her family, so she and Steiner often have sleepovers at Steiner’s off-campus house. Steiner said that they enjoy One Direction dance parties and chatting about their days in Spanish, Salgado Huicochea’s first language.
Although Steiner has known about Salgado Huicochea’s passion for social justice since they met on the Border Immersion, she said that her capacity to engage with tough issues has developed immensely in the past year.
“She is such a positive person that sometimes she would shy away from really hard subjects and it’s been really cool to see her embrace her justice side,” Steiner said. “It’s really beautiful to see her be able to discuss the hardship of other people.”
Routte explained that Salgado Huicochea's work for the Moreau Center, Diversity and Inclusion programs, Campus Ministry and the Shepard Academic Resource Center has exposed her to a variety of perspectives. And with each, her ability and passion for engaging with social justice has likely flourished, bringing her to where she is today.
Salgado Huicochea's resolve to fight for social justice goes hand in hand with her faith, which has lead her to her daily involvement with Campus Ministry. Her faith was developing long before she enrolled at UP — her grandmother began taking her to mass at St. Anne Catholic Church in Gresham when she was just nine years old.
“(When my grandmother moved away) I was not allowed to go by myself, but I finally convinced my mom and I would walk, maybe like a 10-minute walk,” Salgado Huicochea said. “During high school I began to ride my bike there and everyone knew that I was in church because they all recognized the bike.”
Now, she drives to church on the weekends, except for during the summer, when she still enjoys the familiar walk. On weekdays, she attends daily mass at noon in the Chapel of Christ the Teacher on campus, and was elected to serve on the Servant Leadership Team for Campus Ministry next year. Last year, she took part in a Campus Ministry pilgrimage to Molokai, Hawaii.
Because of her involvement in so many areas of campus, it is easy to forget that Salgado Huicochea is also a student. The sophomore biology major started out on The Bluff on the pre-medical track, with aspirations to become a doctor. And although her passion for science is keeping her on that track, her career plans have evolved as she has gotten to know herself better. She has added education and theology minors and now hopes to become a teacher.
After she finishes her final exams, Salgado Huicochea is going on the Civil Rights Immersion with the Moreau Center, then directly to the National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE), then to New Hampshire for the rest of the summer, where she will work as a teaching fellow for the Breakthrough Collaborative, an opportunity that Routte excitedly connected her with.
“Upon reflecting on what I wanted to do and volunteering, I came to the conclusion that I’m passionate about education, and not about the high expectations that people have for me. I guess in a way I was trying to fulfill those,” Salgado Huicochea explained.
She said she is particularly excited about the opportunity to discuss race and ethnicity in the context of higher education at the NCORE conference this summer.
“I don’t see many people of color here on campus and also I went to a public high school which was very diverse. And then coming up here... it’s really shocking. I don’t mind it because I firmly believe that we all bring diversity because our lifestyles are so different, so there are all types of diversity in everybody,” Salgado Huicochea said. “Everywhere in the world you’ll find diversity, that’s the real world. That’s why it is so important to acknowledge it and be open about it, and always continue the conversation.”
Photos by Annika Gordon.