Walter Diaz, dean of students at Eastern Connecticut State University, was given the 2016 College Access Champion Award by Higher Edge on Nov. 19 at the organization’s five-year anniversary celebration. Eastern has been an integral partner of the college access- and success-focused non-profit group, with Diaz being its most valuable on-campus liaison.
“It was an honor to present Dr. Walter Diaz with the inaugural College Access Champion Award,” said Chris Soto, founding director of New London-based Higher Edge. The organization provides one-on-one advising and support to low-income and first-generation students, guiding them through the challenges and technicalities of the college process.
“Since our first days working with Eastern, Walter has been the driving force behind the success of our students and their acclimation to campus,” said Soto, remarking that more Higher Edge students attend Eastern than any other college. “He knows all too well the challenges that low-income students face on their college journeys and works diligently to remove or alleviate those barriers.”
Soto added, “Dr. Diaz sees beyond what students see in themselves and draws out their untapped potential, which manifests in students’ activism on campus.”
The plaque of the College Access and Champion Award reads: “Dr. Walter Diaz: Esteemed educator, tireless advocate, and steadfast ally. Your unwavering passion, mentorship, and wisdom all combine to make magic happen for all those whose path you cross. From the entering freshman to the senior level administrator, you leave no one behind and are always thinking about ways to support others. Thank you for believing in our students, our mission, and modeling leadership that has catalyzed meaningful, educational change throughout our state.”
With the opening of a new Higher Edge satellite office on Eastern’s campus, Diaz and his Eastern colleagues will be able to provide greater support to Higher Edge students.