Department of Languages and Literatures

L&L Student Spotlight: Martha Ortiz Diaz

Martha Ortiz DiazMeet Martha! Martha Ortiz Diaz is a Spanish and Social Work double major from Marshalltown, Iowa. She has grown up as a dedicated Iowan and understands the importance of family and connectedness. Her parents worked at the same plant in Marshalltown, and they took alternating shifts to be there for their family. This care led Martha to a Spanish and Social Work double major as well as to the University of Northern Iowa.

What organizations are you involved with on campus?

I’m the Director of Administration for UNIdos, which is an organization that highlights Latinx culture and brings understanding to all those who interact with our group. Our goal is to learn more about our culture and share that knowledge with everyone. What I do in this group is write the summaries of our meetings and reach out to faculty and members in our group. I am also the Director of Finance for Ethnic Student Promoters. We have a variety of students from various backgrounds, and we work to promote the University for prospective students with campus tours and information for those from a wide range of cultures and backgrounds. For Ethnic Student Promoters, I help with fundraising, outreach, and representing our group throughout the Cedar Valley. 


What made you want to be a Social Work and Spanish double major?

I originally was a nursing student, and I got my Associate’s Degree from Marshalltown. However, I realized that I wanted to make more of an impact. Coming to UNI has helped me to decide that I wanted to help people more long term, and I realized therapy could help me connect with people, because I really enjoy having that contact with others. Having a Spanish major can help your overall end goal, which is assisting my Social Work major by broadening the range of people I can impact. Being able to reach a wider scope of people will allow me to help more of those who need it. I also am very interested in diversity, and I want to showcase that throughout my life. Having a Social Work and Spanish major allows me to do that. 


When do you plan on graduating, and what are your plans after that?

I anticipate graduating in May of 2021, which is coming up a lot faster than expected. However, at the moment I am planning on going to get my Master’s degree in Social Work. My ultimate goal is to be able to provide therapy to those who need it, but specifically I am interested in working with those who speak Spanish. 


Martha Ortiz DiazWhat advice do you have for students who are interested in joining a student organization, or even just students coming into their first year of college?

I encourage students to find hobbies. For example, one of my favorite things to do is cook, specifically dinner. I like to challenge myself by making something you can’t get just driving down University Avenue! Having hobbies can help relieve stress and makes everything else more enjoyable. For students interested in joining student organizations, or even just trying something new, I encourage you to just say yes and try it. Try the things you never imagined you would say. I didn’t like English or grammar originally, but because of Spanish I grew to love them. Give things a chance, and you’ll never know where they will take you!


— Interview conducted by Shannon Garrett

Check out L&L Student Spotlight interviews with Ben Godard and Cece Mitchell.