Los Angeles – The son of low-income immigrant parents, Luis Durán overcame many obstacles in pursuing his high school studies, an undertaking that he has now been compensated for with a $100,000 scholarship that has given him the chance to fulfill his dream of going to college.
The sacrifices his parents made and his own efforts paid off when he was able to enter the School of Architecture at Arizona State University after having won a scholarship from Ronald McDonald House Charities.
"This scholarship took a great weight off of me, a lot of pressure, because my parents could not pay this tuition," Durán told Efe in an interview.
Once he graduates, the young man of Salvadoran origin intends to use his education to "build sanctuaries, where people can go to find God, a doctor or someone who can help them in their lives."
There's a motto that I invented - 'Do ordinary things, but with an extraordinary persistence.' And if someone falls, get up and keep going.
- Luis Durán
For 21-year-old Luis, faith in God has played an essential role in his life after his father was diagnosed with a very serious liver ailment.
"I was almost 9 and my dad was addicted to alcohol, when the doctors found serious liver disease (in him) and basically said he was terminally ill," he said.
Duran said that the doctors recommended that they make "funeral arrangements."
"We went to a family friend who was minister of a church. I see it as a miracle of God because my father was healed overnight after a prayer," he said.
The next week when his father went for a medical exam, the doctors found nothing out of the ordinary.
"Therefore, with that foundation in God, I want to develop my career and build sanctuaries for people who have needs, shelter where they can seek help and find God," he said.
Although that was perhaps the most dramatic moment of his life, a few months before graduating from high school Luis felt that all the doors were closing for him when he began receiving letters refusing him the scholarships he had applied for.
"I felt that I was a very competitive candidate: I had an academic average of 4.3, more than 500 hours of volunteer work, I was captain of the football and tennis teams at my school and I belonged to several service clubs," he said.
Duran did not believe that his effort would not be rewarded, however, and one day he finally received notice that he had won the $100,000 scholarship.
The young man emphasized the importance of not giving up: "There's a motto that I invented - 'Do ordinary things, but with an extraordinary persistence.' And if someone falls, get up and keep going."
And although he had other people who helped him a lot along the way, the support of his parents has been the most important. "They've always been for us, supporting us, motivating us, so that we seek out the best and get a university education," he said.