Eva Diaz and two classmates stand around a Fitdesk in a research space in Bracket Hall.

Eva Diaz, right, and her Creative Inquiry classmates demonstrate work on a Fitdesk.
Image Credit: Clemson University Relations

Despite her local upbringing in Seneca, graduating senior Eva Diaz took some time finding her feet at Clemson.

Upon arrival, she had no difficulty recognizing the sights and sounds. She’d seen the rolling hills and the red brick buildings, and she’d heard the brassy crescendos of Tiger Rag ringing out on a nippy November night. Despite her familiarity with the campus culture, Diaz didn’t know where she belonged at Clemson.

“I wanted to get involved and find my niche,” Diaz said. “Whatever it was, I knew I wanted to do something and have a leadership role.”

Diaz found her place as a psychology major. Her major — picked at random — offered broad research and classroom experiences that could give insight into a number of fields.

“There are just so many areas that psychology encapsulates, whether its human behavior or how we sleep,” Diaz said. “You can find a connection to psychology in every single field.”

While forging through her early coursework, Diaz came across professor June Pilcher’s Creative Inquiry research project, Human Stress and Fatigue. Students worked with Pilcher to study the impact of Fitdesks and other activity workstations on campus. Diaz thought the concept of Fitdesks — exercise bikes with desk platforms, designed to enable active study — was fascinating, and the opportunity to finally dive into some substantial research was tantalizing. She joined with little research experience to her name.

“I started as a sophomore and knew nothing,” Diaz said. “It was the most intense thing.”

After a couple semesters, though, she began to get the hang of her position. She ran studies and brainstormed unique approaches to pertinent issues in health, fitness and psychology. As Diaz took on new responsibilities, her confidence grew. Pilcher gave her an example of success that she still hopes to follow.

“I think Dr. Pilcher is the type of person who you immediately know is highly intelligent,” Diaz said. “You just want to soak up all her knowledge because she’s really smart, but she also gives you a lot of responsibility. You can clearly see that she’s very passionate about what she’s studying. That’s very inspiring, because I want to love my job. She clearly loves her job.”

Eva Diaz smiles in class.

Image Credit: Clemson University Relations.

When Pilcher gave Diaz an opportunity to take a leadership role in the Creative Inquiry, Diaz seized the opportunity. During senior year, she became  an influential voice in the project.

“I got to the point where I was the one leading the projects,” Diaz said. “I was the one telling people what to do, which is way easier than not knowing anything. I was designing studies by myself and with other students.”

That leadership has been a boon for her confidence, confidence that will be a helpful trait in the coming years. Graduation is here, and Diaz has her eye on a career in family or immigration law. She has already been admitted to the University of South Carolina’s School of Law, where she’ll enroll in fall 2019 after spending a gap year gathering the necessary funds.

Diaz knows that her success at law school will depend on her willingness to take action, just as she has for the past four years.

“I think being proactive is the biggest thing,” she said. “Taking that first step and getting things done is important. What you put in is what you get out.”