Marie Diaz-Torres

This profile first appeared in the Spring 2015 issue of Connect

Before reaching her current destination, Diaz-Torres’s itinerary underwent several modifications along the way. From a full-time student at Newark College of Arts and Sciences, the Newark native’s status changed to part-time at University College–Newark, from which she earned her bachelor’s degree. After securing full-time employment in Student Accounting, Diaz-Torres eventually landed in the Office of the Registrar, where she progressed to assistant registrar before ultimately being named registrar in 2014.

Perhaps because of some of the challenges she may have experienced along the way, Diaz-Torres does not take lightly her role as registrar. “I believe our office should be a gateway to a positive experience at RU–N for all students. Consequently, I encourage each staff member to put him or herself in the shoes of our students and then ask, ‘How can I help?’ Transparency is important. So we continually reexamine our process and make improvements accordingly.”

In addition to being RU–N’s registrar, under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Diaz-Torres has served as the VA “school certifying official” (SCO) since the late 1980s. Charged with administering the enrollment verification process of eligible recipients of VA education benefits, Diaz-Torres currently assists more than 400 individuals who self-identify as such. This includes veterans and military service personnel as well as the children and spouses of veterans and military service personnel with active duty status at any time on or after Sept. 11, 2001.

It is not uncommon for veterans and military service personnel to view the structure and culture of higher education as foreign terrain. So in addition to her customary responsibilities as registrar and SCO, Diaz-Torres assists members of RU–N’s student military community by providing referrals to various services, helping to resolve challenging issues, and allaying concerns. Leading by example, Diaz-Torres engages military students with an empathetic ear and a compassionate heart.

“Over the years, I’ve grown to understand the mindset of our student military community and have established fond relationships with many of them,” Diaz-Torres reflects. “Having never served in the military myself, my role as SCO affords me the opportunity to express my gratitude for the sacrifices they have made and are willing to make to safeguard the liberties we so often take for granted.”

Spending time with her husband of 31 years and her three children—two adult sons and one teenage daughter—is one of those freedoms Diaz-Torres most relishes.