by Abby Luby –
When Marcus Diaz first arrived four years ago as a high school freshman at The Masters School in Dobbs Ferry, he had doubts about fitting in. Heading north from a diverse neighborhood in Riverdale to Westchester made him see the world differently.
“I came from a school with a lot of minorities. As I got to know students at Masters, I found myself explaining my Latino culture to them and becoming more proud of it. I gained a good sense of identity,” Diaz said. “I’ve really rediscovered myself here at Masters.”
Before Diaz enrolled at Masters, he was accepted to the Oliver Scholars program — which is known for seeking low-income students and enabling them to attend private schools by offering financial assistance. “I attribute much of what I’ve learned from Oliver Scholars,” Diaz said. “They had courses about how to integrate with students with different backgrounds and how to handle every type of situation.”
When Diaz arrived at Masters, he started to make friends and found the school community very supportive. “All the teachers are pretty cool, and they try to establish a good connection with each student. You can have a spontaneous conversation with them about the real world or anything else that’s on your mind.” That support was essential when Diaz’s mom became ill about a year ago. “The teachers were super understanding,” Diaz recalled. “They asked if I was doing okay. They were truly caring.”
Baseball and swimming figured prominently in Diaz’s high school schedule. Boys Varsity Baseball Coach, Dale Mueller, said Diaz finished this last season with a flourish. “On senior day, he hit a game-winning hit against our rivals, Hackley. As the team captain, Marcus embodies a good team leader because he can balance fun with hard work,” Mueller said. Diaz also excelled in swimming. In his senior year his swim team placed fifth in New York State competitions, and he alone set five records for freestyle. “I’m quite passionate about swimming,” Diaz said. “There was a time when I couldn’t swim at all and almost drowned. Now I love it.”
As a senior, Diaz was Co-Chair of The Masters School Gold Key Ambassadors, a group of students who give campus tours to alumni, prospective students, and their families. “Since leading these tours, my public speaking improved tremendously,” Diaz said. “I no longer feel timid but am now a confident, outgoing person.” Diaz’s college counselor, Esperanza Borrero, said she found Diaz very professional when he trained Gold Key students on a mock tour. “While other students might take this as an opportunity to laugh and joke around, Marcus is focused on the student he is training and being a role model for others. Marcus is always willing to help and always has a friendly face,” Borrero said.
Masters Head of Upper School, Dr. Nikki Willis, first met Diaz last year in a group session with students. Today Willis has gotten to know him better. “Despite Marcus’ accomplishments as a student or athlete, he never forgets to be incredibly grateful — for his family, for the opportunities he has been afforded, and even for the simple day-to-day pleasures. I wish we had more time with him because we could all learn a lot from how he approaches life every day,” Willis said.
Next year Diaz will be attending Union College in Schenectady. “I’m looking towards a major in economics and finance,” he explained. “When one of my teachers first introduced me to the stock market world and macroeconomics, I found it very interesting and started to read about the economy outside of the classroom.” Although he will be on a college campus in the northern part of the state, Diaz said he plans to stay in touch with the friends he made at The Masters School. “In fact, we are all planning a trip to Canada. I want to keep in touch with the friends I’ve made over the last four years. These are bonds that cannot be broken.”