Graduating from the University of Arkansas was a great achievement for Roberto Diaz. Living in Panama, the University of Arkansas was a long way from home. The distance didn’t stop him, nor did his father—an influential figure in Diaz’s life, so he followed in the footsteps of his cousins and moved to Arkansas to attend the university. “My father was always my influence. I wanted to make his effort of investing on our college career worth every cent. It was a strong effort to send his three sons to the U of A,” he said. Appreciative of the people and opportunities on campus, he quickly realized that the University of Arkansas could provide him with the tools necessary to further his education and career goals.
A life member of the Arkansas Alumni Association, Diaz realizes the importance of staying connected to the university and the association. Receiving his BSBA in 1997 from the Sam M. Walton College of Business, Diaz spent his four years on campus studying hard, attending sporting events and making sure the friendships he created would be ones that would last beyond his years at the university.
“I met great people from Panama who are still my close friends; I have even been business partners with some of them,” he remembered. While on campus, he was given the chance to meet fellow Panamanians whom he continues to communicate with today. When he and his friends weren’t studying, they attended sporting events and were impressed by the passion their fellow students had toward the athletic program. One of his fondest memories includes the Arkansas Razorbacks winning the 1994 National Championship in basketball. Having called the Hogs for his first time prior to the Final Four, the excitement he felt when Arkansas won the championship made him proud to be a Razorback.
After graduating, Diaz took his degree in business administration and went into banking, an industry he has been in since 1998. He worked for HSBC as their vice president of business banking but is currently serving as general manager (CEO) for Banco Trasatlántico, which is a local bank in Panama. “The best thing about my job is I am able to cooperate with the financial growth of individuals, companies, my country, and its economy as a whole, by giving credit and financial opportunities to small and middle size companies to grow and develop themselves,” he said.
Grateful that he has the skills and knowledge to help those in his country, he attributes the University of Arkansas for providing him with these tools. “I clearly recognized that part of my success professionally and personally is due to the great foundations that I received as a student of U of A,” he said. In an effort to give back to the university, Diaz became a member of the Arkansas Alumni Association, saying, “I am a proud Razorback and I want to maintain close contact with the university and its activities.” One of these activities included working with a group of alumni to establish the Arkansas Alumni Abroad–Panama Group, making it the association’s first international group.
Through his membership, Diaz looks forward to helping students receive scholarships, an aspect of the association in which $5 of every membership goes toward need-based scholarships. “I already know that my most valuable and memorable experience will be to help develop scholarships for Panamanian [students] with financial needs, to go to U of A,” he said. As a father and alumnus, Diaz feels it is important to “maintain a good relationship between the university and our country, and keep in touch with the U of A culture and implant it in our homes” so that future generations, including his son, will attend the University of Arkansas and become future Razorback alumni.