Eli Diaz, ’14, wants to build bridges. But don’t expect to find him driving heavy machinery assembling a new highway span.
Instead, you’re likely to see the Bridgewater State University alumnus forging international connections and encouraging students to pursue their dreams, wherever that might be.
That’s what Diaz did when he left the United States for China with only a small amount of cash, little knowledge of Mandarin, and the promise of a job teaching English. He credits his BSU business professors for supporting him and suggesting he put himself out there and see where life takes him.
“This small, little, tight-knit school of 10,000 people opened up a lot of things for me,” he said. “It’s very dear to me.”
Diaz, who was a transfer student, switched his major from physics to global management after seeing how engaging the department’s faculty members were. He participated in a study tour to China and knew he wanted to go back.
“I fell in love with it,” he said of the country that seemed to come up in every class. “I knew it was an essential place for me to go, in order for me to develop professionally and academically. … You can read about it, your professors can tell you about it, but you have to go there and see it for yourself.”
While teaching English in the coastal city of Wenzhou, he found an external affairs internship at Wenzhou University, thanks to a connection provided by BSU’s Dr. Wing-kai To. That led to a job at the university’s aviation school. Diaz, who has lived in China since 2014, now works in marketing in the financial technology sector.
Despite being about 7,000 miles away, he hasn’t forgotten his BSU roots. Diaz meets with Bridgewater officials when they visit China, and helped organize a study tour like the one that changed his own life. He is considering returning to the United States to help build ties between the two countries.
“At this stage in my professional career, I’m looking to create more bridges between China and the United States,” he said.
To this end, he’ll return to campus on Friday, Dec. 7, to talk to current students about Asian Studies. The event will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in room ECC113.
He encourages current Bears to have a global perspective and not feel pigeonholed into following a traditional career path.
“We live in a time that’s extremely interesting,” Diaz said. “The concept of borders, of seeing something as completely outlandish or foreign – that’s going away.”
Do you have a BSU story you’d like to share? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.