Alice DiazTunxis graduate Alice Diaz, 32, of New Britain, will receive her associate degree in criminal justice from a special guest at Tunxis Commencement on May 30—U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), for whom she works as an office manager.

The U.S. Marine veteran never could have imagined working for a senator when she first enrolled at Tunxis in 2011. The economy had already turned, and she was forced to close the bail bonds business she had started earlier after leaving the military. Diaz lost all of the savings she invested in her seven-year-old company and began at Tunxis with little more than the hope of earning a degree and working in the criminal justice system.

With a passion to reach her goal and help from financial aid and scholarships, Diaz persevered to make dean’s list every semester and was inducted into Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. “The professors and the environment made it so easy for me,” said Diaz, of the smaller classes and personal attention. “One of my instructors was Judge Cronin, who I knew from my bail bonds work in the courtroom.”

Along the way, her Tunxis instructors recommended Diaz for a legislative internship in U.S. Sen. Blumenthal’s office, which led to a recommendation to work for Sen. Murphy. “My job is one of the best things that has ever happened to me, and it’s all because of Tunxis,” said Diaz.

Diaz plans to transfer to Central Connecticut State University with a major in criminology and minor in political science. “I hope to continue working in a federal job and eventually work for immigration,” said Diaz, who has many friends who have struggled with the immigration process.

Her mom will fly in from Puerto Rico to see her daughter, the first in her family, to graduate.