Graduating from high school is a huge milestone, for students and parents alike.For the Diaz family of Keller, multiply it by five.Early Saturday, Enna, George, John, Emilio and Maria Diaz — that’s their birth order— celebrated graduating from Keller High School in a commencement ceremony at College Park Center at the University of Texas at Arlington.Diplomas in hand, the quintuplets — born July 14, 1996, in Houston to Enna Sr. and Jorge Diaz — will move on to increase the enrollment at the University of North Texas in Denton.A few days before graduation, the family talked about their busy past, present and future.High school has been a whirlwind of activity for the three brothers and two sisters.This past year, all five ran cross-country, giving a whole new meaning to sibling rivalry.Everyone but John had run previously on the team; he played soccer earlier in high school. “We had to talk him into it,” George said.Emilio credits cross-country coach Brian Zaring with helping him stay on track in his classes. If his grades were sliding, Zaring encouraged him to do better so he could keep competing.Enna, Maria and George were involved in art and participated in Keller High’s National Art Honor Society.Maria took the Advanced Placement art portfolio class this semester, which requires a student to finish 24 pieces. Not coincidentally, she is the only one of the five not to have a job this spring. The students’ art is proudly displayed in the Diaz home.As for schoolwork, they have strength in numbers.“Instead of being competitive, we just help each other, and besides, everyone knows I’m the best,” George said.John and Enna participated in Health Occupation Students of America, and Enna continues to be interested in science. At UNT, she plans to major in biology; the brothers will study business and Maria will study graphic design and business.The close-knit family, which includes little brother Sebastian, 13, spends a month in Mexico every year, seeing grandparents and other relatives.Most years, the Diazes drive the 1,500 miles in their van to the Mexico City area. They like keeping the family and cultural ties close, speaking Spanish at home.“Even though they have been born in the U.S., we want them to keep their roots,” their father said.George attributes the closeness of the family to his parents.“No matter what we do, even if we mess up, they’ll be looking out for me,” George said.The same philosophy applies to the quintuplets.“It’s having someone whose always got your back,” Emilio said.“And never being left alone,” George added.But they understand that they’ll eventually have to go their own way.The boys talk about careers in business and marketing, just like Dad.Maria has a dream. She’d like to have a successful graphic design business and be able to fund a school for special-needs kids. Their brother Sebastian, a student at Indian Springs Middle School, has Down syndrome.The parents and kids are unsure whether everyone will live at home during college and are considering student loans to help with the expenses, which could easily surpass $100,000 per year.Jorge recalls a news conference at the Houston hospital when the quints were born. He was nervous and wanted the doctor to do most of the talking.“They had one question for the doctor and all the others were to me,” Jorge said. “I remember them asking, ‘What will you do when they go to college?’ ” he said.Husband and wife look at each other and shrug.“We live one day at a time,” mom Enna said.
Sandra Engelland, 817-431-2231 Twitter: @SandraEngelland