Dallas Independent School District is celebrating a milestone. This year, six students in the district got accepted into Harvard University, a record number for the district.
"I decided at some point I was going to college," Francisco Marquez said. "I didn't realize I was going to go to Harvard."
Marquez will graduate from the School of Science and Engineering at Townview Center in a few weeks. He got his acceptance notification from Harvard last month.
"I thought I was going to get rejected," Marquez said. "It said 'congratulations'. I was like, what? Huh?"
Marquez is the son of immigrant parents, Antonio and Maribel Marquez.
"They came here a month before I was born," Marquez said. "And now they have a kid going to Harvard."
Antonio Marquez said he moved from Mexico to the United States to give his children a better life.
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"Better education, better future, yeah," the senior Marquez said. "I only went to 10th grade in Mexico. I came here to the States and graduated from high school, but I didn't have the chance to go to any college."
"Oh, it's my baby," Maribel Marquez said leaning on her son's shoulder. "I'm very happy, very excited!"
Marquez said he planned to study computer and electrical engineering at Harvard.
"You don't have to be the smartest," Marquez said, pointing out he won't graduate in the top 10 of his high school class. He said grades will only get you so far. "It's oh, this person won't fail out. Now, what else? You need that 'what else'."
Marquez said that meant putting in the work, arriving early to school and staying late. He also had a perfect attendance record, from pre-K through his senior year.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Marquez doesn't know if his freshman year of college will start on the Harvard campus or online classes.
"It feels like a movie," Marquez said. He wants to pay it forward to his parents. "Hopefully one day pay for their retirement or something."
Of the six DISD students accepted to Harvard, only Marquez committed to attend Harvard. The district said the others decided to take offers from other Ivy League schools.
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**County totals below include all 32 North Texas counties, not just Collin, Dallas, Denton and Tarrant.