May 12, 2000

Medal of Honor Recipient

`Just to Graduate Would Have Been Good Enough For Me'

Maria Durazo moved to Texas from Mexico 20 years ago for one reason: She had only completed sixth grade, and she wanted her four children to get an education. Three did.

However, her youngest child, Marcos Durazo, was bogged down with failure. Though, he had dreamed all his life of becoming a lawyer, it seemed just that — a dream. No one, except his family, saw his potential. He graduated from El Camino High School with a 1.7 grade point average, at the bottom of his class.

But somewhere deep inside burned a strong desire to show that his critics were wrong. Just five days after commencement —which he could not bring himself to attend — Durazo signed up for a history class with instructor Arturo Arevalos at MiraCosta. He got an A, the first of many A's he would go on to earn at the college.

"I totally put myself in high gear. I had something to prove and I still have something to prove," says Durazo. "I haven't finished what I want to do."

Durazo, who is graduating from MiraCosta with a 3.8 grade point average, is one of 12 students who will receive the college's top academic award, the Medal of Honor, in a ceremony following a banquet to be held May 12, 5:45 p.m., at the MiraCosta College Students Center, One Barnard Drive, Oceanside Drive, Oceanside. Other recipients include Tiffany Chan of San Diego; Susan Caring of Encinitas; Esmaeil Amimovin, Bonnie Hepburn, Rebecca Maynard, Holly Schultz, and Suneeta Godbole of Oceanside; Jeffrey Coghill of La Costa; Brenda Helms of Vista; Linda Osborne of Carlsbad; and Carolyn Sue Hiatt of Escondido. Medal of Honors students must have a minimum grade point average of 3.5 and be nominated by faculty.

"This is the first time in my life I've been honored academically. Just to graduate would have been good enough for me," says Durazo. "To be honored as a Medal of Honor student is the icing on the cake."

Durazo's brother Huan completed school at Harvard and is now an educational administrator in Los Angeles. Another brother, Robert, is completing his bachelor's degree at CSU San Marcos. His sister Laura is a registered nurse. All of them offered him continual praise as he was growing up. But Durazo remembers thinking that he might be genetically different than his siblings, somehow just not quite as bright.

So his eyes gleam with pleasure when he talks about his success at MiraCosta, and how he has already been accepted to UC Santa Barbara, UC Davis, and UCLA. He is waiting to hear from UC Berkeley, Cornell, Yale, and Harvard before deciding where he will continue his education.

And he is excited up about the upcoming Medal of Honor banquet. Each students selectes an instructor to present his or her award at the banquet. Durazo has selected Arevalos.

"He guided me and supported me, and other faculty did as well," says Durazo.

Durazo credits the counselors and faculty at MiraCosta for showing an interest in him and inspiring him. Because of that inspiration, he is now considering careers in counseling or teaching. Someday he wants to establish a scholarship in his name, a scholarship that would be given to a high school student with a low grade point average.

"If it wasn't for MiraCosta, I don't know where I would be. It was a lifesaver for me," says Durazo. "The help and encouragement I was given here are unparalleled."

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