Inspired by Role Models, Alex Duran Aims to Pay it Forward

Published: June 26, 2024

Our paths in life are often illuminated by others, whether they be a parent, friend, or professor. It’s those “a-ha!” moments that inspire us, and for Alex Duran, first-generation college and Honors program student at College of Western Idaho (CWI), one such moment came in fifth grade.

“I used to hate school and it was something I really struggled with until, when I was 11, my teacher took the time to help me find a love for learning. Since then, I've been very lucky to have amazing teachers that continue to encourage and inspire me,” Duran said.

Recognizing the impact of role models, Duran hopes to be an example for family members by forging new paths as the first college attendee.

Deciding to start college was a journey of self-discovery. “As a first-generation student, my parents instilled the value of education in me,” said Duran. “There was a time that I doubted if college was truly the right fit. I had to stop and take the time to evaluate what my goals were, and through that process came to realize the significance that a college education would be to achieving those goals. 

Enrolled in the Business program at CWI and focusing on accounting, Duran’s goal is to obtain a CPA and work as a managerial accountant. Ultimately, Alex hopes to establish both an accounting firm and dance studio. 

“Something I am very passionate about is teaching,” Duran said. “I was a dancer for 11 years and over the past two years have been a dance teacher. I love making connections with families and seeing my students get their ‘lightbulb moment.’ My found passion for teaching has ignited a dream of owning a dance studio."

Duran’s choice to attend CWI was influenced by factors including affordability, proximity to home, and small class sizes, but was ultimately motivated by the sense of belonging found within the Latinx community. 

"Growing up in a predominantly white high school, I often felt isolated and out of place. It was challenging to connect with others who shared my background and experiences,” Duran said. “CWI's Latinx Scholarship caught my attention, offering not only financial support but also the promise of a community where I could find belonging and understanding. The prospect of being part of that community was something I eagerly anticipated.”

As a proud recipient of the CWI Latinx Scholarship, CWI Scholarship, and Institute for Mexicans Abroad Fellowship Scholarship, Alex is able to enjoy a degree of financial freedom and further prioritize education. Membership in Beta Sigma Pi, CWI’s chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) Honor Society, has enabled Duran to make friends with other members and faculty — all while striving for academic excellence, promoting scholarship and service, and developing leaders.

“My experiences at CWI have been impactful. Participating in clubs like Queers and Allies and projects like the Latinx Panel have helped me connect with like-minded individuals and contribute to the community,” said Duran. “Additionally, instructors like Honors Program Coordinator Michal Yadlin and Accounting Professor Joe Welker have made lasting impressions on my education, providing valuable support and guidance.”

“Because of CWI, I feel more confident in my future. CWI has empowered me to take control of my education and future, allowing me to make decisions that are right for me. Through CWI, I have gained more self-confidence, realizing that I am capable of succeeding.”

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