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Serving with a Purpose

Diba Domínguez ’20 is passionate about seeking justice for people who’ve been overlooked and unheard. She’s currently training to become a combat medic for the U.S. Army, but after her contract, she plans to use her GI Bill benefits to go to law school so she can work to make the world a better place for all.

By Cherie Suonvieri '15, content specialist

March 19, 2021 | 8:30 a.m.

Diba Domínguez, Bethel University graduate

Diba Domínguez graduated from Bethel in May 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in political science.

Diba Domínguez, Specialist (E-4), climbs out of bed at 4 a.m. every weekday for her morning workout. Breakfast is at 6 a.m., and from 8 a.m. until 5:30 p.m., she’s in class, studying to be a combat medic. She reports for final formation at 8 p.m., and then it’s off to bed to rest up before doing it all again the next day. Joining the U.S. Army wasn’t originally in the plan for Domínguez—but the GI Bill benefits are going to help her pursue her long-held dream of going to law school, after her four-year contract is complete.

Domínguez was born in Mexico, but moved to south Minneapolis with her family at age 5. She grew up watching her parents work hard to provide a good life for her and her three younger siblings. “I’m trying to follow in their footsteps and to become someone they will be proud to call their child,” she says.

Diba Domínguez with her parents.

Diba Domínguez with her parents

For years, Domínguez has known she wanted to pursue a career in law. Her passion for people who’ve experienced injustices began at 9 years old, when she witnessed the violent assault of her father and sister at a park. At the time, her parents didn’t speak English, so when the police arrived, Domínguez tried to explain to them what happened. “They didn’t take us seriously. They looked at us and told us to go home and put some ice on it, because they couldn’t help us. I felt that was unfair,” she says. After the assault, Domínguez, along with the rest of her family, brought her father to the hospital, where the hospital staff called the police, requesting that they take a proper report.

Since then, Domínguez’s desire to see society improve has only grown. She remembers being in high school and watching 13th—a documentary about the intersection of race, justice, and mass incarceration in the United States—and learning more about social movements that pushed society to be better. “I felt like that was my calling. I wanted to be a voice for people who were overlooked and unheard,” she says.

Domínguez decided to attend Bethel and study political science, which she says has well-equipped her to engage in conversations with people who see the world differently than she does. She recalls having a conversation recently with one of her friends who is also training to become a combat medic. “We’re really good friends, and we disagree on a lot of political things,” she says. “I feel more equipped for those conversations because of my education. I understand why I believe what I believe, and I have the knowledge to back it up.”  

During her senior year, Domínguez was one of four Bethel students selected to attend the Christian Student Leadership Conference in Washington D.C. where she attended sessions to hear other Christians share about their experience working in government. “I remember thinking to myself that this was the arena where big change can happen,” she says. “We talked about how we can better advocate for issues we are passionate about and not being afraid to challenge the system, in the pursuit of a more fair society.”

Diba Domínguez in Washington D.C.

Diba Domínguez in Washington D.C. for the Christian Student Leadership Conference hosted by the National Association of Evangelicals.

While at Bethel, Domínguez participated in United Cultures of Bethel, and she also led the Law and Justice Club, which she co-founded and co-led with Bethel student Lizzie Sanchez ’21. “We wanted to have a club where you could ask questions and learn about sensitive issues—where you could learn more about why you think the way you think,” Domínguez explains. The club held meetings right up until classes transitioned to a virtual instruction learning environment in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Domínguez would graduate from Bethel later that May, and in July 2020 she shipped off to Army Basic Training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.

Domínguez says she had no intention of joining the Army, but during the fall semester of her senior year, she’d connected with a recruiter at a job fair. She learned about the benefits that would be available to her if she served: healthcare, travel, the opportunity to gain citizenship as a current a green card holder, and ultimately the ability to attend law school, thanks to the GI Bill. So, she decided to enlist.

Diba Domínguez with a friend and fellow trainee.

Diba Domínguez with a friend and fellow trainee.

After she completed basic training, she began her training to become a combat medic at Fort Sam Houston in Texas. While it’s entirely different than what she studied, Domínguez says she’s enjoyed learning about human anatomy, medication, and the different techniques to offer aid to the sick or injured. “It’s not my passion, but it’s what was available to me at the time,” she says. “I’m putting in a bunch of effort to make the most of it and do my job well. And it has been nice to meet all these people and go new places.” Domínguez will complete her medic training on March 31, after which she’ll move to Fort Campbell in Kentucky, where she’ll be working alongside an infantry unit for the remainder of her contract.

Domínguez says her training has been challenging—physically, mentally, and spiritually—and she knows that the future will present challenges, too. There are several things that help keep her going. One is her family, whom she calls nearly every night. “They’re the first thing that pops into my head when I feel like I’m tired and want to quit,” she says.

Diba Domínguez with her family.

Diba Domínguez says being apart from her family is one of the greatest challenges she’s experienced during her time in the Army.

Another is her faith, which gives her the strength to continue and ultimately informs her goal of pursuing a law degree after her contract with the Army is complete. “When Jesus came and was human, He was so humble—and He was especially helpful to the people who were suppressed in society,” she says. “Someone so perfect was so forgiving and so loving of others. I feel that’s the way we ought to treat other people. That’s part of the problem that we have in society today, we just care about ourselves way too much and don’t really look out for one another.”

In closing, Domínguez offers a few final words. “I want to give a big shout out to Colonel John Morris [executive director of Military and Veteran Services]—he was a great help to me during my time at Bethel, and so were a lot of the professors I had. I’m really thankful for them and the way they always pushed me to do my best,” she says. “And if this reaches any students—do your homework like you mean it! Like you’re really passionate about it. It’ll help you know why you believe what you believe in the future.”

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