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Student Leader of the Year Diana Rubi driven by her desire to help others

Barry McNamara
Monmouth’s chaplain, the Rev. Dr. Teri Ott, presents Diana Rubi ’18 with the Student Leader of the Year award.
Diana Rubi ’18 of Peoria, Ill., got off to a shaky start at Monmouth College, but she persevered and has emerged as one of the College’s top student leaders.

Rubi was recently named the College’s Student Leader of the Year, one of the most prestigious awards given at the annual Highlander Leadership Awards, presented by the Office of Student Involvement.

Rubi wasn’t as involved with student life when she started her Monmouth career.

“My first semester here was really tough,” said Rubi. “I went home every weekend, and I really thought of leaving. My living situation on campus was a problem, and it had me living in a shell.”

So Rubi sought advice from her academic adviser, Assistant Professor of English David Wright. He connected Rubi with Monmouth’s chaplain, the Rev. Dr. Teri Ott.

“Being involved in religious and spiritual life on campus made me feel more comfortable here,” said Rubi.

Rubi has also helped others feel more comfortable at the College, which is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

When she was named Monmouth’s 2016-17 Student Leader of the Year, one of Rubi’s nominators praised her for being “the best example of a natural leader we have ever seen, combining compassion and the desire to help others.”


Rubi had leadership experiences in high school, and she hoped to do the same when she came to Monmouth. As a first-generation Latina college student, Rubi realized she could be an important example on campus.

Rubi hasn’t looked back since that conversation with her academic adviser, taking on leadership roles at every turn. Among her favorites are her internship with Ott and the Lux Center for Church and Religious Leadership. In addition to weekly duties, such as planning Sunday dinner/devotions and the College’s ecumenical chapel service, Rubi did a separate project exploring Mujerista theology. The term refers to the explanations of the faith of Latina women and its role in their struggle for liberation.

Out of the project grew opportunities for Rubi to mentor other students, including two who now serve as mentors in Ott’s office. That passing of the torch is a prime example of how Rubi’s “desire to help others” is realized.

“That experience helped me get back to my original plan of helping to provide access to an underrepresented group,” she said.

Rubi has also enjoyed serving her women’s fraternity, Alpha Xi Delta. In her role as vice president for programming, she is part of the organization’s executive board staff.

“You see the growth in people,” she said. “I continue to see my sisters grow all the time.”

Growth will definitely be a goal when Rubi embarks on a new adventure this summer. She is one four Monmouth students who received a Graduate School Exploration Fellowship. As part of the program, Rubi will spend 10 weeks at the University of Nebraska, studying court cases involving marginalized populations.

“I’ll be doing my research with a history professor there who looks at previous cases and tries to fit them into the context of today,” said Rubi, who plans to study immigration law after she graduates from Monmouth next May.

An academic-credit spring break trip this year to the U.S.-Mexico border was another valuable experience for Rubi, who moved to the United States from Mexico City when she was 2 years old.

“From meeting (a detained man named) Jacinto to walking two miles of the Sonora desert (where migrants try to gain border access), to meeting community leaders in grassroots movements, each day was memorable,” said Rubi. “This trip stirred many feelings, but most of all, it reignited my passion to work for the immigrant community and my desire to elevate the voices of those who are often drowned by power.”

In the classroom, Rubi is preparing to study law by majoring in three subjects: political science, international studies and Spanish. She said her career goal has remained unchanged “since I was a student in middle school.”

Monmouth’s Student Leader of the Year has also been involved on campus as an editor for the Midwest Journal of Undergraduate Research, as a Writing Center tutor and as a clerk for the Associated Students of Monmouth College, the College’s student government organization.

Rubi also serves on the search committee for the next vice president for student life, and she was involved with Greeks Advocating for Inclusive Communication.

“For me, to be able to lead is important,” she said. “I knew I wanted to do it, but I’ve really developed as a leader since I’ve been at Monmouth.”