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Some of the most successful professionals have made their claim to fame by being fortunate enough to have had a passionate mentor. It is then that these professionals tend to become an inspirational mentor themselves. Such is the case for Isabel Diaz, a RE/MAX Peak Performers agent from Oak Lawn, Illinois. While real estate agents are known to build communities through real estate sales, Diaz transforms her passion for her career to her fervor for giving back to the community and inspiring others.

In 1988, after only being in the United States for 10 years, Diaz learned a life lesson that to date has helped each day become more rewarding. "I went to work for a great man by the name of Angelo Velasquez, a Hispanic entrepreneur who was very involved through various not-for-profit organizations," says Diaz.

Soon after becoming her mentor, he taught her how to not only succeed in the business world, but also as a philanthropist.

"He taught me that success is much sweeter when you share what you have with those less fortunate. In life, we get by, by giving," she recalls.

Today, Diaz strives to invest her time and experiences with the community. In addition to volunteering her time with numerous non-profit and charitable organizations, Diaz makes a point to advise young students around the Chicago area, maintaining the role as a positive model helping to build them up.

"I want to give them hope, and show them that their circumstances can change," she says. "If they stay in school, hope and believe-there is a better future waiting for them. I am living proof; I know it can be done and they, too, can achieve if they only believe."
Whether it's as a board member or volunteer, Diaz averages five to seven hours a month with the community, depending on project need, organizing fundraisers to build gyms, computer rooms, and gather toys for Christmas, clothing and food drives, etc.

Through these events, Diaz speaks with students and shares stories of hope and success. "I share my story of struggles and triumph," says Diaz.

A particularly gratifying moment was when she was teaching in an elementary school as a Junior Achievement for Project business volunteer with eighth graders, in the same grammar school that she had graduated from only years earlier.

"I challenged those kids to graduate grammar school, go to high school and upon graduation to call me to tell me that they were not part of the alarming statistics of high-school dropouts," she recalls. "Four-and-a-half to five years went by, and I was floored when I started to receive calls."

Not only did Diaz receive those initial high-school graduation calls, but she also received six calls from kids who were continuing on to go to college.

"One specific young lady, Marisol, contacted me again, for a second time to let me know that she had graduated college, and that I had inspired her to do so. She called me her role model."

Moved to tears, it was evident that the few hours per month Diaz had invested were more than enough to make a

-Kayla O'Brien