Junior Diego Peralta is the ideal campus cutie: driven, determined, successful, kind and caring (not to mention charming!), he is a cutie inside and out! He was born in Guayaquil, Ecuador, and moved to South Florida with his family when he was very young, although he grew up in a predominantly Hispanic city, which is why he feels that, despite being far from home, he is still very much in touch with his roots and culture.
A good word to describe Diego is dedicated. He is the type of person that never gives up on his dreams, no matter how difficult, unachievable, or distant they may seem. As a child he wanted to be a professional soccer player, but the older he got the more he realized that he wanted to help people who were sick – kids, specifically. He still plays soccer and loves all sports, but his main focus is getting into medical school once he gets his B.S. in Microbiology.
Why do you want to work with kids?
“I love kids. They’re honest. And very, very funny. When I first got to USF, I got a job as an after school tutor at Patel Elementary School. It was great practice. I wasn’t working as a doctor, of course, but I got to interact with kids and see how they think, what makes them laugh, what makes them angry, what makes them scared… As a pediatrician I’m going to need to know how to act around them and make them feel comfortable, because going to the doctor can be a scary thing at times. So, knowing how to make kids laugh is a great skill.”
Where do you want to go to medical school?
“Well, there’s a lot of great schools out there but, if possible, I’d like to stay in Florida. I love the beach and the warm, sunny weather, even though it can get a little crazy sometimes.”
Why did you pick Microbiology as your major?
“It’s interesting. It teaches you a lot about how the body works: you become more aware of your health and everyday things that impact it. So far the more I learn the more I realize I have a long way to go, and the more I want to learn.”
You seem very dedicated to your studies. Do you ever feel like your social life has suffered because of it?
“Not at all. Every ounce of effort I’ve put into school has paid off: I got into the Honors College, and I also recently got a job as a research assistant at the Alzheimer’s Byrd Institute. It doesn’t sound too exciting, but I promise it is, not to mention the value of the work experience. But as much as I like to study and learn, I also need time to relax and have fun.”
What do you do for fun then?
“If I’m at home I usually watch movies with friends or play guitar and sing. If I’m on campus I’m either playing soccer or working out at the gym, or at the school events: I try never to miss them, because I always end up meeting new people and making new friends. I’m a very social person and I love being around people, or going to parties. I try to do all my school work during the week so I have the weekends to hang out with friends and relax, and Sundays are for church and sleep!”
What’s your favorite spot on campus?
“The parking lots. Late at night, when they’re mostly empty, I like to go up to the top floor and just sit and look at the sky. It’s very romantic, too. Once, I serenaded a girl at top floor of the parking lot right in front of the library. It was fun until we realized there were other people there – I got so many weird looks that night!”
What would you say is what makes you unique?
“Wow, I don’t know… That’s a hard question. I always know just what to say to make people smile or laugh: I don’t know if that makes me unique, but I do know it makes me memorable. And for now, that’s good enough.”