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THE UNDOCUMENTED CHILD FARM LABORER WHO BECAME AN ENGINEER AT APPLE
MEET ENRIQUE DIAZ
In 1972, Enrique’s teenage mother decided to find a job and a better life for herself and her son and moved from Guanajuato, Mexico to Central Valley, California where agriculture labor was, and still is, the major source of income and job opportunity. Enrique was eager to contribute to the household and at age 6 began working as garlic topper making sometimes as little as $5 a day. Throughout his childhood Enrique worked a variety of agriculture labor jobs including irrigation, hoeing and weeding cotton and tomatoes, picking grapes, thinning lettuce, and driving a tractor. He worked every weekend, Easter break and all through the summers.
By the 8th grade Enrique had lived in eight different locations including multiple mobile homes – sometimes “squatting” on vacant property. When it rained his family set out cooking pots to collect water because the roof leaked, his family needed food stamps, clothing programs, housing assistance and other social services to make ends meet. Because of this Enrique carried shame throughout his childhood and suffered low self-esteem.
Part of his mother’s plan for a better life was making certain he and his siblings made the most of America’s public education. He was good in math and became the first in his family to attend college, attaining a Computer Engineering degree from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.
While attending Cal Poly, Enrique was selected for 3 internships with Hewlett Packard. After graduating, he landed a job at Apple Computer (later known as Apple Inc.). Enrique worked as an R&D scientist at Apple for 23 years. Enrique was involved in the original Bondi blue iMac, the “cube”, the clamshell iBook, iPads, MacBook Pro’s, MacBook Air’s, iMacs and much more during his work at Apple.
Despite his high-income career, Enrique felt that there was more he wanted to accomplish. Having achieved financial independence, Enrique now focuses on influencing more students (and their parents) from every background to consider university, computer science/engineering or similar fields, and apply critical thinking to everything in their lives. This led to Enrique’s new chapter as a public speaker and community leader. He serves as a board member on the Gilroy USD School Board where he provides assistance to students, staff, educators and parents. His goal is to help students self-actualize and become valuable contributors to society.
Enrique received his Green Card at age 6 and his U.S. Citizenship at age 41 in 2012. He is married to his college girlfriend, Emily, the daughter of Portuguese immigrants from the Azores now a high school English teacher. The couple have two children: a daughter who is a high school junior and son who is a student at MIT, following in his father’s footsteps by studying Electrical Engineering/Computer Science.
- Motivates and inspires first-generation students of all backgrounds;
- Debunks negative myths and stereotypes;
- Demonstrates the value of diversity in the tech industry;
- Reminds parents, educators, teacher and staff to value the human potential of all no matter background or income level;
- Demonstrates all may overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges;
- Generates interest and motivation in STEM fields.
KCBS Radio interviews Enrique Diaz about his path from farm worker boy to Apple Engineer.
EVENT PRICING | CUSTOMIZED MOTIVATIONAL TALK