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Andrew senior headed for halls of Harvard

Christopher Marquez Andrew High School Tinley Park plans attend Harvard University.  |  Supplied phoby Nancy Maracic

Christopher Marquez, of Andrew High School in Tinley Park, plans to attend Harvard University. | Supplied photo by Nancy Maracic

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Updated: June 13, 2014 6:13AM



Christopher Marquez soon will be packing his bags for Cambridge, Mass.

Come next school year, the Andrew High School senior — who always has been told not to settle for second-best — will be attending Harvard University.

That will be just the cherry on the top of an outstanding high school career.

Marquez, 18, has participated in a wide variety of activities at school, including Scholastic Bowl, science club, National Honor Society, Green Team (an environmental club), and Worldwide Youth in Science and Engineering. He’s also vice president of Mu Alpha Theta, the math honor society, and is a tutor in the World Language Center.

He also is dedicated to the Orland Grassland Volunteers program, working to collect seeds, clear brush and eliminate invasive plants in the Cook County forest preserve.

In addition, he has challenged himself by taking the most rigorous and academically challenging courses throughout high school. It was recently announced that he is a Commended Student in the 2014 National Merit Scholarship Corp. program.

“In school, everything has been fun,” said Marquez, who found it hard to choose just one activity to call his favorite.

Finally, he comes to a conclusion.

“My real passion,” he said, “is the one thing I did over the summer at MIT.”

He spent time last summer participating in MOSTEC, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Online Science, Technology & Engineering Community. It is an online course that MIT sponsors each summer for high school seniors throughout the United States. Students spend five days at MIT and six months taking the online course and working on their own research project.

The focus of the program was astrophysics. Marquez’s research project studied supernova nucleosynthesis.

“In stars, most of the heavier atoms and elements are created through chaos and the natural release of energy,” Marquez said, adding that the research helps scientists understand and explain what is commonly referred to as the “Big Bang” or how the universe started.

The course included everything from basic instruction to working out problems using images from space that students examined.

“We used software to understand what we were looking at,” Marquez said.

“I was granted an interview with Nathan Sanders, a graduate student in astrophysics from Harvard with a PhD. He gave me information on the beginning of life. I think it is just really interesting,” Marquez said.

He said his mentors are Andrew High School teachers Michael Duffy (history) and Eric Johnson (physics).

“I took one of Mr. Duffy’s advanced-placement classes as a freshman, which hadn’t been done before,” Marquez said. “He gave me a good idea of what can be accomplished and helped me get ahead in high school.

“Mr. Johnson is a no-nonsense kind of person. He asks us to think conceptually. He doesn’t want us to just ‘plug and chug.’ Thinking conceptually will help us later on.”

At Harvard, he wants to major in engineering sciences along with economics.

“I’ll see where I go from there,” he said. “Eventually I want to go into business. Investment banking is looking like a good field to go into right now. I’d like to have my own business and retire early.”

That’s a lofty goal for Marquez, the son of Maria and Pascasio Marquez, of Orland Hills.

He said his family history is what drives him to succeed.

“I’m not trying to repeat history but break out of it,” he said. “My parents are from Mexico. They had nothing. My dad married my mother and started from the ground up and raised me.

“They never let me settle for second-best. Even when I thought second-best was good enough, they pushed me.”



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