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University of Iowa News Release


Oct. 26, 2010

UI’s Mom and Dad of the Year honored

Pamela Shafer of Cedar Rapids, Iowa and Pedro Diaz of Des Moines, Iowa were recently named University of Iowa's Mom and Dad of the Year.

Shafer and Diaz were honored Saturday, Oct. 23 during the Family Weekend Gameday Breakfast and before kickoff of the Hawkeye football game.

Shafer was nominated by her daughter, Tamara S. Woods, a doctoral student in psychology. When her two children started school, Shafer returned to work as a counselor at a home for at-risk teenage girls. Wanting to help more, she decided to pursue a graduate degree from the UI School of Social Work, while continuing to work full time. Due to her dedication to her academic work and passion for helping others, she received an Outstanding Research Award for her master’s thesis. She since has served as director and therapist at a psychiatric medical facility for children and as the social services coordinator at an independent living community for the elderly. Despite a busy professional life, Shafer remained involved with her children’s activities, and continues to advocate for underrepresented individuals, groups and communities. She inspired her children to succeed, and both have pursued advanced degrees from Iowa.
Diaz was nominated by his daughter, Katherine Diaz, a sophomore majoring in communication studies. Diaz has been a machine operator at Library Binding Service for the past 13 years. He came to the United States at age 18 to escape numerous threats on his life after he served for three years as a young soldier in El Salvador’s civil war. To make ends meet and support his family, which included Katherine and also a son, Diaz worked 12-to-15-hour days. At the brink of exhaustion and developing dangerous habits, he vowed to change his life and instead put his energy into pursuing a vocation and losing weight to ward off diabetes. His daughter describes him as an incredibly inspiring man who has shown her the value of hard work and who proudly supports his Hawkeye student while living and working in Cyclone territory.
The Mom of the Year honoree is selected by Mortar Board, a national honor society that recognizes college seniors. The Dad of the Year honoree is selected by Omicron Delta Kappa, the national leadership honor society for upper-level students. The Parents Association also is a sponsor of the awards program.
All students can nominate their parents for the annual awards, which have been an Iowa tradition for more than 50 years. The application includes a list of the parent’s occupational achievements, community activities, volunteer work, and personal accomplishments and honors. In addition, students write essays describing their parents’ personal characteristics, what they’ve done for the students or others, and why their parents should represent all Iowa parents.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACT: George McCrory, University News Services, 319-384-0012,