Welcome to Whiz Kids, Stamford Patch's new weekly column that highlights the achievements of the city's brightest students — from elementary school all the way through college.
For our first feature, we chose Diana Rojas, a graduate and a senior at Stonehill College, who made the Dean's List this past semester. Patch spoke to Diana about her achievements, her aspirations and her favorite places to visit when she's back home in Stamford.
Do you have a Whiz Kid that you'd like to nominate for our next installment? If so, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Patch: Diana, you're a senior studying International Studies and Education. Do you have any specific plans after graduation?
Diana: I'm not exactly sure what I want to do just yet, but I'm very interested in government, so I applied for an internship with Congressman Stephen Lynch [MA-9].
Patch: So what are some of the extracurricular activities that you've been involved in while at Stonehill? And what activities did you do while you were at Stamford High?
Diana: I'm the program coordinator for the student government here, which means I'm in charge of planning senior events on campus. I'm also a peer mentor and orientation leader. And I'm on the women's rugby team. I also work with Into the Streets, a volunteer group here. I volunteer at the animal shelter.
When I was in high school, I was on the New Canaan swim team and I did theater with during the summer. I would act, build sets and do stage-managing. My favorite show I performed in was "Bye Bye Birdie" probably because it was my first show. It was the initial spectacularness of it all. It was great.
Patch: What are some of your favorite classes at Stonehill and what were some of your favorites when you were at Stamford High?
Diana: I'm taking this International Studies course called War, which is great. I also like American Foreign Policy. I did my senior thesis last semester and it was a cool class because we could write on any topic we chose. I chose to write about the Iraq War and the steps that the U.S. had to take before becoming involved. At Stamford High, my favorite classes were AP History and European History.
Patch: Who would you say had the biggest impact in your life in terms of academics?
Diana: I would say Matt Parker, one of my ninth and 12th grade teachers. He just inspired me to think differently, in a sense. He's a really good teacher — one who inspired me the most to go into government.
Patch: What are some of the places that used to hang out while growing up in Stamford and what places are "must-sees" when you come back to visit?
Diana: I love Stamford. When I was in high school, we would always end up at . And by the time come home for a visit, my mom and I have already planned out the restaurants we're going to go to. But is literally always the first place we go when I come home. We know the owners and they know exactly what we order every time.
Patch: And how do you feel about making the Dean's List? You must be proud.
Diana: For me, honestly, it's really not an expectation, but a requirement. It's something I put on myself. I try to do the best that I can.