RENO, Nev. (KRNV & MyNews4.com) -- A local latina is being recognized nationally along with today show anchor Natalie Morales, actress Michelle Rodriguez and olympic boxer Marlen Esparza.
23-year-old ShirleyDiaz will graduate with a master's degree in economics from Nevada this month and she's being featured in the spring issue of Cosmopolitan for Latinas.
"I just saw it today. It's really exciting," Diaz said. "It makes it a lot more real."
Diaz is one of a dozen women honored as "Fun, Fearless Latinas" in a special edition of national women's magazine Cosmopolitan.
She was picked based on an essay she wrote and a phone interview.
Diaz said it's a little surreal to go from reading Cosmopolitan for Latinas to being in it, but she hopes her story inspires other girls like her.
"If they do find themselves in a situation where they're like well I have this horrible GPA or I have a child or I've been arrested so there is no future for me now, hopefully they'll see me and they'll say actually this person did it so that's not an obstacle at all," Diaz said.
That is a message she tries to get out through her DreamGirls International Outreach and Mentoring Program.
"I actually mentor girls to get into higher education from high school, especially if they have a rough background," Diaz said.
She uses her own experience struggling with drugs and gangs to show girls they can turn things around.
"I did get arrested. That's not going to go away, but at the same time I've done something about it," Diaz said.
Now she hopes girls across the country will read her story and realize their goals are within their reach.
Diaz and her mother are going to New York City later this month for a red carpet event to celebrate the magazine, and she will be an honorary Cover Girl model.
If you'd like to check out the article for yourself, the issue is on stands now.