Member Spotlight: Ruben Diaz '88 P19

Meet Ruben Diaz, head of the DC chapter of the Association of Latino Princeton Alumni (ALPA) and member of the Princeton Club of Washington Council.

I grew up in Houston, Texas where I attended public schools through high school, including some with special magnet programs. Although no one in my dad’s and mom’s extended family went to college, many of my friends in these programs had parents who did. My friends’ strong desire to attend college became mine. With no legacy anywhere (and application fees waived), I was free to apply to any school throughout the country, even a place called Princeton.

Of the schools I got accepted to, I decided to go to Princeton because of the amazing engineering school (and the fact that it covered most of the cost of attending). My first impressions of Princeton were shaped by Outdoor Action (OA); the members of my freshman OA group were very approachable, relatable, and friendly. My OA experience was a springboard to get involved with other groups on campus. I joined the Chicano Caucus, organized a 10K fun run, and started the Princeton chapter of the Society of Hispanic Engineers in my freshman year. I became a Minority Recruitment Coordinator for the Admissions Office in my sophomore year. In my junior and senior years, I lived at the Third World Center as a Caretaker (to assist the center and take advantage of the free housing and its excellent location next to the E-Quad).

After I graduated with a BS degree in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, I went off to Stanford University for graduate school. My time at Stanford was glorious. Not only did I get a Master’s in Mechanical Engineering, but I met my future wife, a fellow grad student. After marriage, Sun and I decided to stay and work in the Bay Area. It being Silicon Valley during the dot com boom, we worked a lot, but no matter how much we earned and saved, the dot com millionaires made it impossible to buy a home unless we lived a two-hour commute away. We decided to move to Austin, Texas one year after the birth of our first daughter. Although our stay in Austin was relatively short, I (proudly) obtained a patent on work I did there. Our next stop was the DMV where after working in the telecom industry, I started on a series of IT contracting positions with the IRS, Treasury, Transportation, and currently, the SEC.

For Princeton, I have been part of Annual Giving call-a-thons (which can also be referred to as text-a-thons). After learning of the Princeton Club of Washington (PCW), I attended various events including the touring Triangle Club. After I was elected to the board of the Association of Latino Princeton Alumni (ALPA), I became the ALPA liaison to PCW. In this role, I coordinated events between the groups including last April’s Evening of Dancing event. For ALPA, I organized several local events including night-outs to shows and a series of dinners for Hispanic Heritage Month last Fall. This March, I am planning a Salsa dance lesson and dinner event open to both ALPA and PCW.

Now that both our daughters have left the nest (our second daughter showed up two months after we arrived in the DMV), my wife and I spend our time running, working out, reading, trying out good restaurants, seeing movies, and spending time with friends. We also (every now and then) fly out to Los Angeles to visit our daughters – the older one is working after graduating from Princeton last year, and her sister is at USC.