Diana Vicezar ’24 has been fighting for a greener and more sustainable future since she was a teenager. While in high school in her home country of Paraguay, she founded the organization Animal Love (Mymba Rayhu in Guarani, Vicezar’s first language) to address the environmental impact of stray dogs and improper disposal of trash and plastic.
Now a sophomore at Pitzer, Vicezar continues to expand her reach as a climate activist. This past September, Vicezar was one of two representatives from Paraguay selected to participate in the Youth4Climate: Driving Ambition summit, a three-day global event hosted in Milan, Italy, and sponsored by the United Nations and the Italian government. Youth4Climate brought together young activists from around the world to discuss pressing environmental issues and hear from a host of world leaders and climate experts prior to the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland.
At the summit, Vicezar heard speeches from renowned activists such as Greta Thunberg and soaked up being in an environment filled with environmental experts. She said that one of the most rewarding aspects of the summit was meeting other young climate activists she’s admired from afar via social media and the internet.
“They are people who have been working with the UN and other big organizations for years,” Vicezar said. “To meet them in person and become friends with them was amazing.”
Vicezar and other summit participants talked about the global implications of the climate crisis and shared their personal experiences working to make their home communities more environmentally conscious. She said it was an honor to be able to learn from others as well as explain the work she’s done back home in Paraguay.
During the summit, Vicezar was chosen to lead a group discussion. With so many passionate, vocal participants, she found this role both exciting and challenging. She also helped draft a proposal listing demands and initiatives to create a more environmentally sustainable world.
Vicezar applied to participate in the summit in early 2021, during the second semester of her first year at Pitzer. Taking classes remotely from Paraguay due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she didn’t expect to be selected to participate in the global summit. When she found out she had been chosen as one of two activists to represent Paraguay, she jumped at the chance to learn more about enacting climate initiatives on a global scale.
Vicezar advises any young person wanting to get involved in climate activism to first get the right information from reputable organizations, then share that information within their community, and, finally, take action, whether big or small.
Based on her conversations with the people who attended the event, she said that most of them started working as volunteers in local organizations. “It’s okay to focus on issues that affect your own community because that affects climate change on a global scale.”
Both Vicezar’s interest in the summit and her decision to attend Pitzer College are fueled by her deep and long-standing interest in environmental conservation and her commitment to set an example for other international students who, like her, come from underserved communities.
“I wanted to motivate other students from my country, from underprivileged communities like mine, to follow their dreams and make them understand that it is possible to study abroad—and that you can come here with a full scholarship,” said Vicezar. “That’s something that people from my community would never have even dreamed about. But I had that dream. I had that goal because I knew it was possible.”
As she continues on her path as a cognitive science major at Pitzer, Vicezar hopes to learn even more ways to push for environmental consciousness and to use her platform as an environmental activist and international student to create bridges for others.
“We should never tell anyone that they cannot accomplish their goals because you never know who might be the next big world leader,” said Vicezar. “Your background doesn’t define who you’re going to be, what you can do in life. That’s my biggest takeaway after meeting so many people from different backgrounds—we were all there working toward the same goal.”