Education

She just started classes at UM — and so did her parents

Sofia Diaz entered the University of Miami as a freshman last week — along with her parents, Susy Alvarez-Diaz and Frank Diaz, who are pursuing graduate degrees at the same time.
Sofia Diaz entered the University of Miami as a freshman last week — along with her parents, Susy Alvarez-Diaz and Frank Diaz, who are pursuing graduate degrees at the same time. University of Miami Communications

While most students were saying goodbye to their parents at the University of Miami’s move-in last week, incoming freshman Sofia Diaz’s folks weren’t going far.

Instead, Diaz’s parents, Susy Alvarez-Diaz and Frank Diaz, were also starting their school years at the U. As Sofia pursues a bachelor’s degree in finance and broadcast journalism, her mother will be working toward her doctorate in higher education while her father begins a master’s of science in leadership at the business school.

“We didn’t plan it like that at all,” said Alvarez-Diaz.

But “all roads lead back to the university,” she said. Alvarez-Diaz spent her four years of undergrad at UM, and Frank, whom she met in high school, transferred to UM after spending two years at Miami Dade College.

The parents run a public relations and marketing firm together, but always made their way back to UM for alumni events. They have been alumni marshals during commencement ceremonies and are members of UM’s Citizens’ Board, a group of alumni who secure donations to the university.

In 2008, Alvarez-Diaz’s tie to UM grew even stronger, when she was asked to teach management and entrepreneurship classes at the business school. She started out as a stand-in when a replacement hire was a no-show, and is now a full-time lecturer.

Sofia Diaz, a graduate of American Heritage School in Plantation, was no different in her longstanding connection to the university. Her parents took her to UM sports games — including the last football game the Miami Hurricanes played at the Orange Bowl — and threw her sweet 16 at the Donna E. Shalala Student Center.

Last week, Sofia Diaz entered UM as a member of the University’s Foote Fellow Honors program, which taps top high school students and encourages them to think independently.

“My parents truly value education and they passed that down to me,” Sofia Diaz told UM Communications. “I am sure we will have dinners or lunches on campus.”

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