NEWS: MARCO LEDEZMA
beckons for former Mission student
doubts, Ledezma feels Harvard's offer is one he
does a student who graduates from high school with a 1.5
grade point average wind up with an invitation to attend Harvard
Universitys John F. Kennedy School of Government?
The story of Marco Ledezma takes many turns and paths, including
Mission College...a conversation with the president of Mexico...and
an offer that may be too good to refuse.
But it begins in Mexico, where Ledezma was born 24 years ago.
As a child, Marco was a model student in a good school in
his native Acapulco. Then the family decided to immigrate
to the United States. Not once, but several times.
We came to the US, then we went back, he recalled.
Then, wed go back to Mexico and come back
again, he said. It seems like we did that
countless times. So I never really settled in a school and
I never got a chance to learn English.
Of all the colleges, Mission is the school I really liked best
because it's small and feels like community."
the family did finally settle here, Ledezma was 16. It took
him over a year to master English, after which his grades at
Los Angeles High began to improve slightly. But the lost
years before that hurt him academically and his final
grade point average was abysmal.
Disappointed at how poorly he had done in school, Ledezma decided
on community college. But an accident suffered by his mother,
with whom he is very close, put off his education and forced
him to work. Once he got back on track, however, there was no
During a two-semester period, Ledezma earned about 80 units
and three Associate degrees. He attended five Los Angeles Community
College District campuses, including Mission, averaging seven
hours of class each day. He recalls studying on buses all over
town as he went from one college to another, and eating brown-bag
meals on the run.
Of all the colleges, Mission is the school I really liked
best because its small and feels like community,
he said. I got to know my professors well. I really liked
Professor (Charles) Dirks government classes, and Mr.
(Stan) Levines cinema class was outstanding.
earned Bachelors degrees from UCLA, the University of
Judaism, and California Christian University (in Riverside).
He is completing work on a second Masters degree now.
His academic expertise lies in two fields: government and religion,
which he believes are central to a possible career with the
and one of his favorite Mission College instructors,
Back now to Harvard.
December, Ledezma visited relatives in Acapulco. Those relatives
are well-connected politically in Mexico, Ledezma said, and
as a result he had an opportunity to be part of a small group
that discussed Mexicos future with President Vicente Fox.
After learning that Marco was attending UCLA, Fox asked him
about his future, said Ledezma.
I told him I wanted to go to Princeton, recalled
Ledezma, adding with a smile: But then he said, No,
it would be better if you went to Harvard. (Fox) said
he would write a letter for me to Harvard and he did!
That moved the process forward pretty fast, and I got accepted
soon after that.
About two-thirds of Ledezmas tuition at Harvard
will be paid by Mexico. But, in return, Marco will have to work
for at least four years in the Mexican government following
Im still undecided because of the loans (hed
have to secure) and the commitment to work for Mexico for that
long of a period, he said. But I know its
a huge opportunity
everybody keeps telling me that.
Pausing for a moment, Ledezma then quotes advice that probably
counts more than that of the President of Mexico or any politically
My mom thinks its a great chance and she
says, Go for it.
BY EDUARDO PARDO
Lydia Chung and Eduardo Pardo