Thirty members and guests of the La Palma-Cerritos Branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) gathered at the La Palma home of member Sondra Cohen for their Annual AAUW Fund Luncheon Fundraiser on Saturday, February 9, 2019. The AAUW Fund is the world’s largest source of funding for graduate women that helps to support women as they study for higher degrees with grants. Each year, the branch invites a winner of an AAUW Fund Grant to come as a guest speaker and enjoy a special lunch with members. This year, the members of the La Palma-Cerritos AAUW Branch were expecting to meet an AAUW Fund Grand winner who lived locally in Orange County. They were pleasantly surprised with who became their guest speaker.
Starting at 11:00 a.m., members and guests enjoyed blood orange drinks, champagne, and mimosas as they visited with each other at Sondra Cohen’s beautiful home. They were treated to a delicious buffet prepared by Gladys, owner of Huff’s Family Restaurant in Long Beach, and her assistant Carla. The menu included a choice of beef Tri Tip or chicken breast, salads, cooked vegetables, rolls, and white or chocolate cake for dessert.
After everyone had enjoyed their lunch, Joan Pylman, Co-Chair of the AAUW Fund Lunch, announced that the original guest speaker’s children were ill, so there was a surprise guest speaker. She introduced Diana De Loza as a past winner of an AAUW Career Development Grant which the La Palma-Cerritos AAUW had contributed to in past years.
It is amazing that Diana was available to come to speak on such short notice. Joan Pylman frantically called people for help. She contacted AAUW member, Tobi Balma, as Tobi was at the airport leaving for an AAUW California Special Projects Board meeting in Sacramento. Tobi gave Joan Diana’s number to call, and Joan asked Diana on Friday afternoon to come to speak the next day on Saturday by 11:30 a.m.
Since, Diana is a mother of four children, she asked her husband if she could go as a speaker. With his approval, she came from her home in Chino Hills to speak with her three daughters, twin daughters 11-year-old daughters Maryanna and Bryanna, and 2 l/2- month- old, Lucyanna. Her husband took their two-year-old son Benjamin to work with him, since she said that her husband now has his own trucking business.
Diana thanked members of the AAUW for helping her financially while she worked for her MBA at UCLA. She received an AAUW Career Development Grant from 2011-2014 so that she could complete the 3-year Fully Employed MBA. She received her undergraduate degree in Business from Stanford and studied for her MBA at UCLA School of Business while she worked at Nestle. Currently, she is a Marketing Manager at Mega Mex foods in Orange, which is owned by Hormel Foods. She said that she markets salsas and sauces including Herdez Salsa, La Victoria, Dona Maria and Embasa.
Members were impressed after hearing about all Diana achieved while being a mother of four and working full time. When asked by member Barbara Powell what gave her the incentive to work so hard to do well in school, and work for her MBA, she said that both her parents encouraged their children to study and do well in school. She said she saw her father working hard as a laborer so that she and her sister could go to Catholic schools for their early education. She wanted to succeed so that he would not to have to work so hard later in his life. As far as incentive for her MBA, she attributed her applying for the MBA to her mentors at school and other women who had children and worked for their MBA degrees. They encouraged her to complete her studies so she could advance in her career.
At the end of telling her life story, she thanked the AAUW for helping her financially when she needed the help. She also said that she came as a speaker to give back to our branch for supporting the AAUW and offered her help in any way. Members thought that Diana De Loza was an inspirational speaker and is an amazing person! AAUW Fund Lunch Co-Chairs Joan Pylman and Gail Ross thanked Diana for coming and presented her with a Certificate of Appreciation and an honorarium from the La Palma -Cerritos AAUW. Members and guests applauded Diana De Loza for all her accomplishments!