Diana Gombas Roberts ’86
Diana Gombas Roberts graduated from SJA in 1986. She said, “My experience at SJA was one of freedom and opportunity. I had come from a one-room school with very few resources. Suddenly being on a comparatively huge campus with so many choices of class materials and laboratories was exciting and also a little bit scary! I was grateful for the new options available to me and for having true teachers to help me learn.
“My favorite classes were biology, Latin, and creative writing, all for different reasons. I knew that I wanted to go on to veterinary school, so the biology classes — especially the one where we dissected fetal pigs (I know, everyone else thought it was gross!) — were particularly appealing to me.” She also explained that “Latin was fun because of Mr. Graham Newell (former Language Faculty). Anyone who was taught by him will confirm that he made learning Latin entertaining, whether we were reading How the Grinch Stole Christmas in Latin or going on an excursion to watch the beams of the field house being installed.”
After graduating from SJA, Diana attended Colgate University. She said, “I loved Colgate’s small-town feel, though I will admit that some of the classes there, organic chemistry in particular, were very challenging. I was a biology major, but it was my grades in English that helped me maintain a decent GPA! For me, choosing a small college like Colgate was much less intimidating than attending a large university.” After her four years at Colgate, she attended veterinary school at Michigan State University, receiving her DVM in 1994.
Diana spent her years after college in Colorado working as a veterinarian. She fell in love with the terrain and weather conditions there, which, she said, “led to 21 years of enjoying the hiking, backpacking, and camping scenes of Colorado when I was not at work.”
In 2022 and 2023, Diana transitioned to part-time work, and she has had the opportunity to return to her roots in St. Johnsbury, working for three months at a time. She said, “The animals never stop teaching me, and I can honestly say that no two workdays are the same.”
When not in Vermont, Diana does volunteer work with stray animals in her relatively newly chosen home base of Roatan, Honduras. Initially drawn to Roatan by scuba diving, she and her boyfriend were enchanted by the friendliness and diversity found on the island and decided to move there in 2019. She said, “Life here is slower paced than in the United States, but some might be surprised that we can buy Cabot cheese in the grocery store and have fiber optic internet at our home. We dive as much as we can but also spend a lot of time with animals, whether they be one of our own crew of 9 animals (including one Morgan horse born in Vermont) or one belonging to an islander in need of a helping hand.”
When asked for one piece of advice for current SJA students, Diana said, “Mainly to not give up on your dream. If you know what you want to do with your life, don’t let anyone tell you it is out of your reach. You may need to work harder than someone to take out more student loans, but if it is your true passion, NOT doing it will be much harder than doing it despite the difficulties involved.”