The University of New Mexico was not originally in Leonel Diaz, Jr.’s plans. California born and raised, Diaz Jr. was working as a research consultant, continually on the move around the country advising university researchers and getting more involved with the professional side of university life. But the desire to finish his doctoral degree was often on his mind.

A graduate of the University of California-Santa Cruz, and the University of Southern California, the SoCal/Compton raised Diaz Jr. started looking for new horizons to finish his college studies.

“I was looking for an education program that was interdisciplinary. There were a lot of programs in California, but a lot of them were brand new and just starting up at the time. But I’m always wary about new programs. So I wanted something that was a little more rooted, had a little more history to it.”

This led Diaz Jr. to remember the University of New Mexico, and the Organization Information Learning Sciences (OILS) program he had read about. It offered him everything he was looking for to prepare for the next phase of his professional life – it’s an interdisciplinary program that focuses on technology, instructional design, the theory behind how people learn, and cutting edge online distance education.

Everything a future provost or university president would need to know.

“My eventual goal is to become a university president, and I think the OILS program provides the components that are required to move into that career path because organization is a big part of student affairs and higher education.

“We have great faculty who have been professionals in their fields. They teach what they are currently learning and working on. They are publishing a lot of their work and it’s great to work with faculty that you can relate to, that understand that having all of these backgrounds in different areas and how they work together as researchers.

“I’m really proud to be a Lobo, at the end of the day. Coming to UNM is a decision I’m really glad I made.”


  • Elizabeth Hernandez

    Very inspiring story! Happy to hear other first generation college students are making an impact in higher education. Mr. Diaz is a very talented young man who has the potential to become a university president. When that day comes, I’ll be sure to apply to work at that school.