Her single mother wanted her kid to be a tough kid, so she named her “Diamond,” the toughest mineral.
The second part of her name, “Naga,” means “Dragon” in Sanskrit, an ancient Indian language.
Born in Tasmania, Australia, Diamond Naga — “Tough Dragon” — moved to New York City from Los Angeles at 18. With her belongings in two suitcases, she enrolled in New York University, where she has studied immigration and public policy and uses her knowledge in the subjects for her journalism.
While at N.Y.U., Diamond Naga, now 21, saw the privilege other students had and at times felt out of place. But once again, her mother was there for support.
“You belong there just like anybody else,” she would tell her.
Although she identifies as Chinese, Diamond Naga is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists. She said it is an acknowledgement of the many black journalists who have taken her under their wing.
“Every internship or every newsroom that I’ve been at, it’s been a person of color that has helped me,” Diamond Naga said. “A lot of the people of color that have helped me have been black.”
During her senior year of high school, Diamond Naga received criticism for her career choice. “Isn’t journalism against Chinese culture?” a teacher asked, referring to values of tradition, philosophy and the order of society in Confucianism.
“I think journalism specifies that order in society,” Diamond Naga said. “Because without journalism … I mean, journalism checks that order! I think it produces the most good, and that’s where it is for me.”