NEWARK, Ohio, May 6, 2016 – Lisa Diaz Laredo had to overcome many obstacles, but graduation is finally almost here. The 33-year old from Plain City will be walking across the graduation stage at Central Ohio Technical College (COTC) to receive her accounting degree tonight. Diaz Laredo has beat the odds to get here, and she couldn't be more proud.
"My parents were high school sweethearts," said Diaz Laredo. "They both dropped out of high school, and we struggled as I grew up in Winston Salem, North Carolina. Going to college really wasn't something I thought about a lot. I took one college course in North Carolina, and that was it."
Diaz Laredo eventually got married. However, after giving birth to her first child, she went through extreme postpartum depression. Diaz Laredo's husband at the time was not supportive, and the two got divorced.
After struggling to trust again, Diaz Laredo eventually remarried. Her new husband was an immigrant from Mexico. His sister lived in Ohio, so they picked up and moved to be near his family. However, the hardship in Diaz Laredo's life was far from over.
"On February 3, 2012, my father passed away. This happened during the exact same time my husband was going through the immigration process. On April 7, my husband had to go back to Mexico. We had two kids at the time. He had to do his entire immigration process in Mexico, and he was gone for seven months. I couldn't afford the house, food and daycare by myself. We lost the house. I was also pregnant with our third child at the time."
Diaz Laredo's husband got his visa in September, 2012, and their baby girl was born the following April.
"After I had my daughter, I was working night shift as a nursing assistant at The Ohio State University Medical Center. I worked 12 hour shifts. On Thanksgiving of 2013, I was driving home, and I fell asleep at the wheel. I went off the road, but woke up in time to miss a tree, and I went down an embankment. I got home and told my husband I was done with that job."
Diaz Laredo quit her job and started taking classes at COTC in the summer of 2014.
"I chose accounting because my husband is a construction contractor, and I wanted to do something that could help his business," said Diaz Laredo. "I would not go to any other school. I absolutely love the instructors that I have. They don't just want you to pass the class, they make sure you understand the material so that when you leave here, you know it. They realize that I'm a mom, and I have things that come up. They help me make it work."
Diaz Laredo is a member of Phi Theta Kappa, a national honors society, and was recently recognized at the campus Student Leadership Awards Ceremony with the Kelly Saffle Leadership Award for work she has done to get others involved with the COTC chapter. She hopes she isn't the only one in her family celebrating accomplishments this year. Her husband hopes to become a U.S. Citizen in 2016.
"We've been through so much. Now it's time to enjoy our lives and our family."
Central Ohio Technical College is a fully accredited, public college dedicated to providing high-quality, accessible programs of technical education in response to current and emerging employment needs, as well as encouraging the professional development of students, staff, faculty and administrators to assist them in achieving their maximum potential. COTC is the only technical college in Ohio operating four full-service campus locations: Newark, Coshocton, Knox and Pataskala.
Photo caption: Lisa Diaz Laredo accepts the 2016 Kelly Saffle Leadership Award from Justin Khol, Student Life Coordinator for Student Involvement.