Luis Diaz, more commonly known as Soop Doop, has been a familiar face for University of Connecticut students for over 15 years. In an interview with The Daily Campus, “Soop Doop” (short for super-duper), reflected on his mission and how he has proceeded to send positivity even after the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the interview, Diaz described his early life and how he was not always in the position he is today.
“It was really bad, it’s a miracle I’m still alive,” Diaz said. “I saved myself. Friends of mine have died young, thirty-something, I’m forty-something. My dad died at 44 years old … so that hurts me too — I was raised with no father. I have five kids of my own; I had to show them what I knew, because I didn’t learn anything — so I’m glad I got to raise my kids right. It was tough, but I made it.”
Diaz previously worked in the Student Union, Towers dining hall and this year South Dining Hall. Familiar refrains of “Soop Doop!” and “Everyone, good luck and have a wonderful day!” have been a staple of the UConn community over the course of his career. He said one of the reasons he decided to begin saying “soop doop” was because of his belief in giving guidance to those that might not have any.
“They, right now, when they first started, were kind of like, they don’t know where they’re at, they’re lost, and I’m over here directing them. I’m over here helping them out. I’ve got five kids of my own, and they’re taken care of, but when I’m around here, I feel like these kids are my kids.” Diaz stated. “I’m just trying to make sure that people are going down the right path, because I’ve been through so much, and I would not like any of these people to go down like that. It was really hard for me. I’m glad I caught up with it — I feel good about it and I’m proud of myself.”
Diaz stated that he thinks his job at UConn is more important than ever this year, especially considering the circumstances. He believes because of the pandemic, it is partly his job to make sure UConn feels like a community for those experiencing campus life for the first time.
“It was really tough because a lot of people weren’t around during the pandemic, so I was just trying to make sure that people weren’t scared, because I knew a lot of people were scared and paranoid,” Diaz said. “So I’m just trying to make sure they don’t feel that worry anymore.”
Diaz expressed that his mission has always been to help others and make UConn feel like a home.
“Every time I’m out there, I’m making sure they’re fine and making sure they feel at home,” Diaz said. “My management sometimes says, ‘[Y]ou know you’re doing a good job’ and this and that, but the students always appreciate me.”
Despite the challenges of the pandemic and the limited capacity requirements of last year, Diaz is still optimistic and finds his role more important than ever.
“I love my job … I know a couple of people that I knew because I’ve seen them before, but there are a lot of new faces around here, a lot,” Diaz said. “So, I know they definitely need this push. So, I’m making sure, before I leave home, that I’m feeling good … I feel so good. I feel like I’m rich, and I’m not!”