Department of Sociology & Sexuality Studies names undergraduate lounge in student’s memory

Author: Department of Sociology & Sexuality Studies
May 10, 2023
People in lounge at naming ceremony and portraits of Briana Fernandez Diaz

The Department of Sociology & Sexuality Studies held a ceremony on May 1 to name its new undergraduate student lounge in HSS 375 in memory of student Briana Fernandez Diaz, who died in September 2022. Members of her family were present for the dedication.

The event flyer stated, “We will gather to name the Sociology Lounge in honor of Briana, who embodied the true spirit of community and scholarship. We hope that students, faculty and staff continue to be inspired by her work and commitment to social justice.”

In Spring 2022, the department nominated Diaz for the University Hood undergraduate award, which celebrates top students’ academic excellence and special achievement. Sadly, the nomination coincided with Diaz’s diagnosis of myeloid sarcoma leukemia, a rare form of cancer.

Diaz was the daughter of Mexican immigrants and a first-generation Chicana-Latina scholar in both the Sociology and Race and Resistance Studies programs. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology in May 2022. Throughout her time at SF State, she experienced many hardships while, at the same time, excelling in her education and professional career, maintaining a 3.98 GPA and making the Dean's List during her four years on campus. Faculty members who knew her agree that she was an intellectual light and strong voice in their classes. In Sociology, she served as a teaching assistant, supporting her peers and starting to explore her love of teaching.

Diaz was selfless with her academic colleagues and  also served the public in different capacities. She brought a much-needed sociological lens to the Human Rights Commission of San Francisco when selected as a Willie L. Brown, Jr. Fellow. During her time there, she worked on numerous initiatives, campaigns and policies, such as the Dream Keeper Initiative, the Campaign for Solidarity, Equity Studies Task Force and diversifying the SFUSD literature to expand inclusive and cultural texts. Diaz used her educational experience to work on political congressional campaigns, talking to community members about the importance of their vote through canvassing and phone-banking. She worked on amplifying the voice of underrepresented communities and was a fierce advocate of young people, as evidenced by her contributions to the opening of integrated youth mental health facilities across California.

“We are honored to have worked with Briana and witness her passion. The Department of Sociology and Sexuality Studies, San Francisco State University and San Francisco more broadly have lost a smart, bright and gentle light. We dedicate this student lounge in her name and in her legacy in hopes that the conversations, ideas and projects of the next generation of students in this space continue the bright light that Briana shone in her short time here.”

—Department of Sociology & Sexuality Studies