At 17 years old, Thatiana Diazis a regular teenager enjoying her summer before starting college in the fall. She is hanging out with friends, going to the movies, playing mini-golf, and shopping for clothes. However, there is more to this young lady than meets the eye. When she isn’t doing normal, everyday stuff, she is also representing the state as Miss New York Teen USA 2010.
This month, Thatiana spent some time with a group of 11-13 year olds from the Frederick Douglass Center talking with them about her experiences as a teenager growing up and the unique journey she finds herself on. With an ease that belies her age, Thatiana spoke candidly about facing peer pressure to smoke and drink, trying to fit in with the wrong crowd, and finding the strength to discover her own path towards success. She encouraged the group to be open to new experiences and shared a story about how responding to a flyer in her school turned into an once-in-a-lifetime trip to France as part of a student exchange program. “You should never be afraid to try new things”.
Students also listened intently while Thatiana spoke about an issue that she is especially passionate about, stopping the cycle of teen dating violence. “More than 80% of young girls stay in relationships after being abused by their boyfriends. You should never allow yourself to be disrespected because there are places that can help”. Thatiana has gone one step further and created her own campaign; apply named Teens Against Domestic Abuse (TADA) to help provide assistance to teens dealing with both physical and verbal attacks. “I saw a lot of girls [in high school] being emotionally and verbally abused and wanted to do something about it. I want talk to kids about it and tell them that help is out there”.
Thatiana also answered other less intense questions that helped her to really connect with the group, such as, “What is her favorite color?” (Yellow), “What celebrity does she want to meet?” (Alicia Keys), and “What does she do for fun?” (Cook, Read books).
Always up for new challenges, Thatiana is someone that epitomizes the volunteer spirit of giving back. “Volunteering is very important. I want to help raise awareness and get others to help. When I volunteer, I know that I have affected the lives of others”. Thatiana credits her mother Katty, with inspiring and motivating her to achieve success.” She’s my shoulder, my manager, my everything”.
Supported by her mother and over fifteen family members, Thatiana recently traveled to the Bahamas to compete in the Miss Teen USA pageant, finishing in the top fifteen. She graduated with honors from high school and will be attending college this fall on scholarship, majoring in Criminal Justice. She plans to become a lawyer. For more information about TADA, check out Thatiana’s DoSomething project page.