Stories of Masters Ep. 2 – Diana Montes

Diana Montes currently works on the maintenance staff at Masters.

Ellie Yang, Chief Design Editor

In this episode, Diana Montes, a member of the maintenance staff, recounts her experience immigrating to and working in the U.S.

Podcast Credits:

  • Music by Max Peters
  • Editing by Ellie Yang
  • Special thanks to Christian Soto



Everyone has a story. The stranger you sit by in the subway, the figure in the office window, and all the others you have grown to overlook. This podcast aims to highlight the stories in the Masters communities that although important, are often unnoticed. From security guards to maintenance staff, these are the people who play a big role in making Masters what it is, and these are their stories.

Diana Montes has been working on the maintenance staff at Masters for almost 5 years. She currently lives in Queens, however, the U.S. isn’t her only home. When she was 10, Ms. Montes left her hometown, Puebla, Mexico and journeyed to the U.S. with her mother and sister.

I came illegally to this country. I had to go to Tijuana. My dad knew someone that could get us to California. It didn’t happen.

Diana’s family considered many options of getting her to the U.S. Eventually, they settled on one where she will walk across the border with a fake ID. 

They gave me a fake ID, but I don’t know English. Like I understood the basics like dad, mom, Because my dad sent me English books to learn, but I didn’t know. Like if they asked me a question, I wouldn’t understand.

And they asked me, oh, what’s your name? So I got that. I was like, alright, so my name is, and then that, and they were like, oh, um, what year were you born? But I didn’t know that the girl was one year older than me. So when I answered that, they noticed that I was lying. So they took me back to Mexico.

They said, all right, so give me your mom’s number. And remember we were in a hotel but it was not registered as a hotel. So they were like, all right. Um, give me your mom’s number. I was like, I don’t know my mom’s number. We don’t have a cell phone. So they were like, all right. So how are we supposed to find your mom?

Cause, uh, I was not supposed to tell the person who was helping me cross the boarder. So I was like, well, I don’t know. And the lady was like, all right, do you know what hotel are you staying in? I was like, yeah, the name of the hotel is Genesis. And then she was like, all right. So she Google it. She tried to get some info and it was not registered as a hotel.

So she was like, all right. So it’s not registered. I dunno how to find your parents. I don’t know how to help you. If you stay here for more than a week, we got to take you to the DIF, which is like child services in Mexico. So they will take you to a new family. I was so scared, I was crying.

I was like, no, no, no, but I have my mom, I have my dad. And they were like, all right, but you gotta give us something because we, we don’t know. Who’s your dad, you just, we just know the name. We don’t have a phone number. You don’t know the phone number of someone in California. You don’t know no one’s phone number.

You gotta help us. So the only thing is that I knew my great-grandfather’s house number. So they did this: they called, uh, they called my great-grandfather. My great-grandfather called my dad, who was in New York. Then my dad called my uncle who was in California then. They my uncle in California called the guy that was, uh, helping us cross the United States.

And then that guy went to the hotel to get my mom. Then my mom wasn’t in the hotel because she was trying to cross to the United States. So they couldn’t find my mom for like half a day. I was crying. I was so scared, but then my mom came and she was like, don’t worry. I couldn’t, uh, you know, cross to the United States and, you know, there’s a reason behind that.

I’m glad that I didn’t. Cause if I did it, there would be no one to pick me up from there. So she picked me up from there. And after that, um, as she was so mad that the guy couldn’t help us, you know, in case she did cross to the United States before me, there was no one to help us. So she was really pissed about it.

And she was like, we’re going to take a different road. Like we’re going to find someone else to help us.

So they found that lady and she said that she had a sister that looked a lot like me and she was younger. And they were like, just, you’re going to learn her name and, you know, pretend that you’re asleep.

And I was like, all right. So they put me in the car and they’re like, just fall asleep. If they see you asleep they are not gonna ask any questions. So that’s what I did. I fell asleep. And when I noticed we were in the front of the house of my uncle and yeah. A week after that, my mom came. Yeah. But it was, it was really, now I could laugh about it and be like, wow, that was like something really crazy.

But when I was little it was really scary.


Her family eventually settled down  in Queens, where Diana got her education and now lives. 

My whole life was in Queensland. I don’t, I don’t plan on leaving in Queens at all. It’s where I was raised. I know like everything was everything. I dunno. It feels like home to me.


After her family reunited in the U.S. and started to build a new home for themselves Diana faced the transition of a new language, new school, and new environment.

I didn’t want to come here. I was really happy in Mexico. I had the freedom.

I had a house, you know, my life in Mexico was really good, but, um, obviously the money that we make here and the money that we make in Mexico is really different. So they made the decision of, you know, let’s bring the kids here. First, My dad  asked my mom, oh, you want to come by yourself? Then we could ask for the kids to come. And she was like, no, if you didn’t take me with my girls, I’m not going anywhere.

So that was a really good decision.


The first day of school, my teacher, I remember she was, I learned later, from Spain and she will talk Spanish, but I was scared because she was so white and her, the blue eyes and everything, I was just like, no, no, you don’t get it. I don’t understand. And she was like, but I talk Spanish. I’m like, no but you don’t understand. And then I was like, oh, you took Spanish. Oh, okay. I see. But it was scary. 


5 years ago, Diana was able to return home to Mexico for the first time since she left as a child.

I was able to get, um, the visa for people that were brought here by their parents.

So I was able to go back to Mexico in 2017 

Actually, I was working here when I went back to Mexico. Uh, Brian, um, my manager before Christian, um, I had to talk to him cause I remember that I was brand new to the job, and I didn’t have any vacation days, sick days.

But he was really nice about it. Also, Craig and Laura were really nice about this. Like, you know, you could go and come back, you’re going to have your job. I was like, all right. But yeah, I was, I was already working here. 

I remember that we took a cab and the guy that picked us up, he was like, so what’s your house? I’m like, I don’t know. I’m like, you’re asking the wrong person. I call my mom, my dad. And he was like, boy, you lived here. I’m like, yeah. It was like 10. I don’t remember.  So we were driving and, uh, the street divided in two, one was going to the left and the other one straight. He was like, so where do we go?

I’m like, I don’t know. I remember the place, but I don’t remember where to go. He was like, all right. So we’ll go straight. And then, um, I remember seeing that house and I was just like, yeah, this is not the place. He was like, so you don’t see it? I’m like, no, I don’t see it. It’s a big one. Um, I can’t miss it. So he was like, alright, so we’ll go back and we’re going to turn left and you’re going to, and after we turn left, I saw all the houses, the buildings, I was like, yeah, it looks the same with more people, more stores open, but just the same.


She said that being back in Mexico brought back a sense of nostalgia that made her reluctant to leave her hometown.

I called my mom.

I was like, mom, I don’t think I could come back. And she was like, no, no, no, we did all this paperwork. If in the future you could actually get the legal, completely legal status. Like, no, no, no, you gotta come back. Mom, I can’t, I can’t do it. Like this is my home. Like the smell, everything, felt like home. 

And she was like, you know, mom, I’m gonna tell your dad and you got to talk to him. And my dad calls me and he’s like, are you okay? I’m like, yeah, I’m really good here. I love it here. And I think I could go back and he was like, all right, so you could stay just remember (I was already 21)he’s like, you just remember you’re over age, It’s not my responsibility to pay for your bills. 

I’m like, all right. And then I started asking for prices, like how much is their gas price or the heat price, the food, everything. Right. And they all were like, well, I make this amount of money, weekly rate, and I could only afford these things, these little three things.

And I thought, wow, what are you saying? You make all that money and go into that? and she’s like, yeah, well you gotta pay the bills first before anything. I was like, yeah, I think I’m gonna go back to the United States. 

And I called, and my mom was like, yep, I’m going back. And she was like, all right. That’s what I thought. 


Do you have anything to say to the students?

Stay in school kids. Believe me, it’s not, it’s not pretty out there. Do whatever you love, like before anything do whatever you love. Like, my dad, if you asked him, he loves his job. I keep asking him like, oh, would you go to school? Do something else. Be a teacher, doctor. And he’s like, no, I love doing this. 

Stay in school. You have to finish high school. Believe me, it’s really hard, you know, having to find jobs and most of the jobs, they actually look for people that, you know, are qualified with at least two years of college.

So yeah. Stay in school, be healthy and don’t hurt people. Be the kindest people ever. Cause there’s some rough people out there.


Diana is currently attending Laguardia Community College in Queens for an education that will allow her to become a medical assistant. She said that she might train to be a nurse after that.


There are 955 members at Masters, and behind each number is a story. Together they make up the Masters Community, our community.