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Sources: Johanna Diaz, baezjr@k-state.edu;
and Roberto Diaz, rsdiaz@k-state.edu
Photo available. Download at http://www.k-state.edu/media/newsreleases/apr11/diaz.jpg
Cutline: Johanna, Lena and Roberto Diaz.
News release prepared by: Tyler Sharp, 785-532-2535, media@k-state.edu

Monday, April 18, 2011

DEVELOPING SCHOLARS PROGRAM A FAMILY AFFAIR FOR GARDEN CITY COUPLE

MANHATTAN -- The secret to a successful marriage may start in the laboratory -- at least for Kansas State University's Roberto and Johanna Diaz.

Roberto Diaz, a junior in computer science, and Johanna Diaz senior in biology, both from Garden City, are married and members of K-State's Developing Scholars Program, which provides underrepresented students opportunities to research projects with faculty mentor.

The Diazes also are parents of a 2-year-old daughter, Lena.

Life as students and parents has helped illustrate the value of educational grants. Both Diazes are recipients of the Bridges to the Future Grant, which is for underrepresented students majoring in the biomedical sciences.

"Without this support, achieving our dream of a higher education would be much more difficult to achieve," Johanna Diaz said.

The Diazes met in Garden City High School's gifted program class. They began dating after Roberto Diaz's junior year of high school. Almost two years later, they were married. They attended and graduated from Garden City Community College before arriving at K-State in fall 2010. For two actively involved college students with a family, time management can occasionally be difficult.

"We simply strive to take things one at a time," Roberto Diaz said. "I think it's the only way we can do it, prioritizing and making sure we fit the most important things in."

Johanna Diaz is conducting her Developing Scholars Program research with Brian Lindshield, assistant professor of human nutrition. The research is on the effects of finasteride and dutasteride on prostate cancer.

Roberto Diaz is conducting his research with Gurdip Singh, professor computing and information science. The work involves pervasive sensor networking. Diaz and Singh are currently developing middleware for micaz wireless sensors.

Though she is too young to complete a research project, daughter Lena Diaz is an honorary member of the Developing Scholars Program.

"We hope that by involving her in our university experience from a young age, when the time comes, she'll be motivated to aspire not only to come to the university or a university of her choice, but also join programs similar to the Developing Scholars Program, which enrich the lives of students," Roberto Diaz said.

For the Diazes, the value of the Developing Scholars Program has been immense.

"Understanding what research actually is has helped expose us early to the next part of higher education: graduate work," Roberto Diaz said. "We've also been fortunate to see connections between classes and real-life applications."

The Diazes have high aspirations for their future. Roberto Diaz wants to continue in the computer science field and Johanna Diaz wants to be a veterinarian. Her interest is not limited to working in a clinical and research setting. She'd like to serve lower-income communities with free or low-cost animal health care.

But it all starts with family.

"Our family is the foundation upon which many of our aspirations have been grounded on," Johanna Diaz said.