Diana Rongavilla (’16) is a nonstop nonprofit pro. Since graduating from Biola with a degree in sociology, Diana has served with Girls Inc., St. Vincent de Paul and Lava Mae, and done photography for local nonprofits like the St. Francis Center and L.A. Mas. As a student, she coached volleyball and co-founded the on-campus affinity group Taro Talk.
Here are five things you should know about Diana and her heart for nonprofit service.
- Diana coached volleyball while she was a student at Biola. “I always knew that I wanted to serve,” Diana said. “And most of my experience had been working with youth. So throughout college I coached girl’s volleyball: middle school, high school and club.”
- As a senior at Biola, Diana co-founded Taro Talk. Diana describes Taro Talk as “a space for Asian American women to gather to support each other personally and professionally.” She and her friend Janelle Paule (’16) founded the group after seeing a need for it on Biola’s campus. In search of a name that would unify different Asian communities, they settled on “taro” — a popular root vegetable used in teas and other Asian cuisine.
- After graduating, she became a teacher with Girls Inc. “The job description said ‘Empowering girls to be strong, smart and bold,’” Diana said. “And I credit a lot of my success to people who have taken me under their wings. So I thought this would be a great opportunity for me to do that for young girls.” Diana facilitated programs in an elementary school in South L.A. and a middle school and high school in Compton. “One of my favorite parts about the job was collaborating with other organizations to give the girls opportunities they wouldn’t necessarily get if we weren’t around.” This included taking the girls to DreamWorks Studios, hosting workshops on robotics and taking trips to the beach.
- Diana currently helps L.A.’s homeless population. She works at St. Vincent de Paul’s Cardinal Manning Center, a community center and interim housing program located on Skid Row that serves around 150 people every day. As the center coordinator, Diana works with organizations and plans community events — from their annual Halloween party to their weekly senior bingo night. Diana adores working with the program’s alumni, she said. “A few weeks ago, we hosted an alumni tea tasting. So if you can just envision single men anywhere from 40 to 65 coming together having tea on a Saturday morning ... it was a sight to behold, but they loved it!”
- Diana’s favorite spot at Biola is the Mosaic Cultural Center (MCC). The MCC was Taro Talk’s main meetup spot when Diana was a student, but it was also a place for homework and relaxation. “That was the spot on campus,” Diana said. “When I was on campus and I wasn’t in class, I would be at the MCC.”
- Zachariah Jimison
Photo courtesy of Diana Rongavilla