Mom and Dad of the Year
Two University of Iowa parents were the center of attention Oct. 23 during the Family Weekend Gameday Breakfast and before kickoff of the Hawkeye football game, when they were honored as Iowa's Mom and Dad of the Year.
Mom of the Year
Mom of the Year is Pamela Shafer of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, 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 University of Iowa 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.
Dad of the Year
Dad of the Year is Pedro Diaz of Des Moines, Iowa, 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.