Unlike the majority of students who come to HCC, Julia Moore Diaz already has a bachelor's degree. She graduated from UMass in 1989 with a degree in English and worked for years after that as a children's librarian at the Jones Library in Amherst.
"I was working with books and children, and I absolutely loved it," said Diaz.
That was before she got married, did some traveling, had a few adventures and started raising a family.
At 45, Diaz now has her sights set on a new career--in accounting. In recognition of her achievements at HCC and her goal, PeoplesBank has awarded Diaz with this year's Marjorie Green Scholarship.
PeoplesBank CEO and President Douglas Bowen presented Diaz with a check for $2,500 Monday (March 26) at the bank's headquarters on Whitney Avenue in Holyoke. The scholarship is awarded every year to a female HCC student in memory of Marjorie Green, a long-time PeoplesBank employee and the first female bank officer in the City of Holyoke.
"Marjorie Green was here in the ‘60s," said Bowen, "and she was a senior vice president at the bank, so she was one of the first women to achieve that type of stature in the local banking scene, which is pretty cool."
"That's why I'm so excited," Diaz said. "It's not just the money, but actual recognition as a female trying to put myself back out in the world."
Diaz, who lives in Holyoke, enrolled part time at HCC in Fall 2010. She decided to focus on accounting after watching her husband, himself an accountant, find another position very quickly after being laid off. "There are jobs," she said.
She plans to take a full course load next semester so she can graduate in May 2013. Her children are a bit older now--14, 11 and 9--so that will give her more time to study. "I think I'm ready," she said. "It'll be quite a challenge, but I need to finish. I need to move forward. Because, for someone coming back to school, I think a big part of it is not losing momentum. You need to set the goal and be steadily moving forward."
Initially, that goal was to get a job as a bookkeeper after earning her associate degree. She now plans to pursue her bachelor's degree in accounting through the weekend Elms at HCC program and ultimately become a certified public accountant. "That will just allow me to get a better job and open up more opportunities," she said. "There are so many different directions within the field that you can go."
Who knows? She may one day find herself working at PeoplesBank. "When you finish up," Bowen said to Diaz, "give us a call."
Photos: (Left) HCC student Julia Moore Diaz visit the PeoplesBank headquarters on Whitney Avenue in Holyoke. (Right) Diaz accepts her $2,500 scholarship check from PeoplesBank CEO/President Douglas Bowen.