Diana Moreno describes herself as a true California girl, born in Baja California, Mexico, and raised in the U.S. state of California.
But Moreno recently left the Golden State to join UNLV’s Nevada Small Business Development Center as the interim director and economic development specialist. Here, she shares how her passion for entrepreneurship led her to Las Vegas.
Inspiration to get into your field
I graduated with a degree in international business not knowing what I was going to be. When you go to law school and graduate, you’re going to be a lawyer. With international business, you don’t necessarily know.
I was very lucky to find the Small Business Development Corporation (SBDC) early on after I got my degree, and then I fell in love with the program. It was so rewarding because I was helping people make their dreams come true by starting their own businesses. Over the years, I’ve continued finding new things to do at the SBDC. Then I found this position with UNLV, and I thought, “I have to go!”
What drew you to UNLV?
Las Vegas, especially the Strip, was never appealing to me. But one morning, I was looking on my phone, and the job at UNLV came up because they were looking specifically for a bilingual business advisor. The more I read about the job, I thought, “I want to do this,” but the posting was dated a month earlier, so I thought it might not be open anymore. Still, I called and talked to the person who’d posted the job, and she told me it was still open and encouraged me to apply. Everything happened very quickly from there, and next thing I knew, I was moving here.
The most surprising thing about UNLV
The best surprise and the most impressive thing about UNLV is its ranking as the No. 1 most diverse campus in the nation. That means so much to me as a minority, and our diversity isn’t limited to the students. It extends to the faculty and staff here.
Favorite thing to do in Las Vegas
I love getting lost in Las Vegas, and I do that a lot. There are all these businesses and shopping centers everywhere, and that’s exciting to see, especially given what I’m doing with the SBDC. This is a great place for a small business owner. I think the city is going to continue to grow because it’s a great place to do business and a great place to live. There are so many opportunities for people who want to be self-employed.
Most exciting thing that’s happened to you since you moved here
I met Elvis, and he got down on one knee and proposed to me at the “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign. That was epic! And that was the weekend I was moving here, so it was quite a welcome to Las Vegas. It was clichéd and cheesy but awesome!
Your guilty pleasure
People who know me know I love fried chicken, but I’m not supposed to have it, so it’s a real guilty pleasure for me. I haven’t found my favorite place in Las Vegas yet, but that’s not a bad thing because in California, I only had two favorites in the whole state. In my hometown, there wasn’t a single restaurant that served real, homemade fried chicken.
A life lesson you would like to share
Don’t keep things that bother you bottled up inside. They will fester, and you will end up blowing things out of proportion when you reach your limit.
Something that people would be surprised to learn about you
I’m a licensed private pilot, and I owned my own Piper airplane.
Favorite story from flying
(The actor) Morgan Freeman was on the radio, and it was so cool. You’re not supposed to play around on the radio because, with all the traffic, you have to be very precise when you use it. One day, I asked, “Is this God?” (A role he has played in more than one movie.) He chuckled and said yes. So I talked to God!