Ana Rita Diaz-Muñoz: Sociologist & changemaker

March 11th, 2020   |   School for International Training, SIT Study Abroad, Women's History Month

Argentina: Public Health in Urban Environments

During Women's History Month, SIT is spotlighting some of our extraordinary academic and program directors across the globe who are making history today through their thinking, their words, and their actions.

What’s your academic discipline and what inspired you to pursue it?

I studied sociology, inspired by the possibility of making a contribution by designing and implementing social policies to improve more disadvantaged people's living conditions. Sociology as a scientific discipline allows us to understand how society and social systems work. It sheds light on the social and individual problems I have been working on in the field of public health.

Who is your hero and why do you admire her?

I most admire women who are sensitive to social injustice, inequities, and other people's suffering; women who take action -- even at the smallest possible scale -- to promote rights and well-being in any way they can, and not get discouraged at the complexity or extent of the problem.

A great example for me was in my adolescence my American host mother, Julieta Saucedo Bencomo. She was an extremely generous, warm, and courageous woman who was the heart of a wonderful family and worked hard for vulnerable people. She was strongly determined to make a difference in her community.

Understanding that education plays a key role in empowering the unprivileged, she advocated for making education accessible to special groups like incarcerated youth. She was the first Latina to serve on the Arizona State Board of Education. Her activism extended to other areas like older Americans and immigrants' rights and she was ready to support any cause related to human rights.

Why do you teach?

To promote critical thinking, sensitivity for social problems, and the desire to contribute to a better world. Something wonderful about teaching is that it is the best way to learn and go deeper in the knowledge of your area of expertise; you will be always challenged in the most rewarding way.

What advice would you offer young women?

Concerning your professional career, feel free to choose to do what you can enjoy, work hard, and try to enjoy everything you do. Always take the time to listen to yourself and to others, and to care for yourself as you care for others. Have a plan and set your priorities, not forgetting about pleasure.

When you go down in history, what do you want to be known for?

I would like to be recognized as someone who enjoyed life, family, friendship, and work; someone who was always ready to value others' efforts and achievements and contributed in a way so that others could blossom into the best version of themselves.