Adriana Ortiz Aquino was born and raised in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, to parents Jerónimo Ortiz Ildefonso and Aura Aquino Fernandez. Since she was young, she always showed more interest in mathematics classes and dreamed of one day becoming a teacher. After graduating from high school, she decided to go to the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus to study Mathematics, with the intent of becoming a high school teacher.
After taking higher level math classes, she became more interested in learning more abstract math and diving deeper into the math world. The summer before her 4th year, she was part of an REU in Valparaiso University, where she made the decision to go to Graduate School and pursue a Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics. After graduating in 2014 with a B.S. in Discrete Mathematics, she moved to Manhattan, Kansas to attend Kansas State University.
She was also one of the founding members of the SACNAS Chapter at K-State and has been the acting president for the last 2 years. During the summer, she was hired as a Calculus 1 Instructor for the Pilot National Virtual Bridge Program organized by The National Association of Multicultural Engineering Program Advocates (NAMEPA) and The National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME). In the future, she will be graduating with a Ph.D. in Spring 2024 and hopes to continue in Academia. She hopes to become an educator that improves the experience of learning math for undergraduates, as well as focusing on diversity and equity efforts in her new position.
In recent years she has also taken on a mentoring role by participating in K-State’s Directed Reading Program, where she was paired with undergraduate students to meet weekly and go over a math topic they were interested in. Through all these experiences, Adriana has found a passion for promoting diversity and equity in academia; this is a passion she looks forward to pursuing in her future as a professor.
“Hispanic Heritage Month has shown me that I am not alone, no matter the place or the situation. I was born and raised in Puerto Rico and lived there until I moved to the States to attend Grad School in a small town in Kansas. Now living in a town that is not as culturally diverse, I find it difficult to connect to my roots and interact with people that speak my language and look like me. Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month has shown me that I am not alone and that there are more of us than I could imagine. We find each other through celebrations, and the Latin culture shines through by always feeling welcomed and received with laughter and joy.”