Aurerlio Diaz — Human Services
Aurelio Diaz puts the human touch in Human Services, his major at North Central State College.
A second-year NC State student, Diaz is in his 10th year as a support specialist in adult services for Richland Newhope Industries. For the past four years, Diaz has directed the Richland Newhope dance troupe.
The troupe of six women and two men performs regularly at events ranging from school assemblies to parades.
Being choreographer for the Richland Newhope dance troupe wasn’t in his contract when he joined the center, but he says the experience has also helped him to grow as a person and in his role.
After working in case management, Diaz is shifting into social integration coordination. “I don’t really like the term ‘recreation,’” he said. “Instead of taking busloads of people to various locations for planned activities, my goal is to help our people develop natural relationships and develop more of a natural social life.”
It was social integration that led to the troupe’s creation. Four years ago, a few women from Newhope took a Hip Hop class on the Mansfield campus. After the classes were over, Diaz was asked to work with the women on a dance routine to perform at the Richland Newhope Employee Breakfast.
“What was supposed to be a one-time thing turned into an awesome thing,” said Diaz. At first, the troupe performed only for Newhope events; but the Newhope board members and other community members embraced them and the troupe began to receive invitations for more performances.
In addition to their musical performances, the dancers share messages that are appropriate for their audiences. “We have a curriculum that we have developed on bullying we present when we go to schools,” Diaz shared. “Our dancers may discuss how they were picked on for their clothes or difficulty in speaking. We have been received very well in schools.”
The Richland Newhope dance troupe recently received a Hero Award presented by the Richland County Red Cross. “That was cool that they were featured in that way,” Diaz said.
A 1995 Mansfield Senior High School graduate, Diaz always wanted to be involved in music but didn’t foresee this role when he finished high school. “I moved to Columbus and worked for an agency for teens and then a homeless shelter for men. I discovered I really enjoy working with people, human services. After I moved back to Mansfield, I really found my niche with Richland Newhope.”
Working full time, Diaz has been taking classes at NC State on a part-time basis.
“One class that really helped me was case management because it applied directly to what I was doing,” he said. “What I like best about the Human Services program is the faculty. We see the same instructors multiple times and can build a rapport. I thought I might feel uncomfortable because I had been out of school a while when I started but I found quite an array of people in my classes. It was not intimidating at all.”
“I enjoy making people happy,” he said. “I feel I’m fusing my passions into my job.”