In Memoriam

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A memorial service was held for Skyline student, Hector Orozco, on Aug.25 celebrating his life that ended on June 30 due to a drowning incident while vacationing in Miami with his two older sisters.

Orozco, a telecommunications major, was actively involved in many programs and activities at the school. He was a member of the Puente Program, EOPS, MESA, LASO, Phi Theta Kappa and the National Dean’s List. He was also involved in the karate club at Skyline College.

The service was held in Skyline’s Gallery Theater. The memorial at Skyline was held so the Skyline community could gather in honor of Orozco to celebrate his life.

“We want it to be a simple dignified tribute,” Imelda Hermosillo, Counselor for Puente and EOPS, said before the memorial.

For those that knew Orozco the pain his death caused is still present. Orozco’s death was so unexpected; the news was shocking and devastating to everyone who heard.

“For me it was surreal,” LASO member Luis Padilla said. “I found out over the phone. I didn’t want to believe it.”

Even though Hermosillo has known since summer about Orozco’s passing she says it still hasn’t sunk in to her that she will not be seeing him again.

“It is so wrong,” Hermosillo said. “I don’t believe it, it’s unreal. It hasn’t hit me he’s not coming back.”

Orozco is survived by his parents and four siblings. He was the eldest son and acted as a mentor for his 12 and 16 year old brothers. Orozco lived with his sisters in the Bay Area but the rest of his family still live in Mexico, where he immigrated from around 5 years ago.

Orozco touched so many lives and made an impact in many ways, at the memorial everyone was given a chance to speak on the difference Orozco had made. Former instructors, friends, family and members of LASO and Puente all spoke on Orozco’s short life. Tears, jokes and lessons learned from Orozco were part of almost all the speeches made

Karen Wong, English Professor, was very close to Orozco and her speech at the memorial was filled with her memories and feelings on him. Before she started her speech Wong said she was going to speak from her heart, but she began to feel so emotional that she couldn’t, and decided to just read from what she had written beforehand.

“I will miss Hector a great deal, I will never forget him,” Wong said to the audience at the memorial through tears. “He refused to be boxed in; he was completely at home in an institution of learning.” Wong also spoke about how Orozco openly admitted to her that he was not in school for the grades, but rather for the learning. The public recognition he received was just icing on the cake.

Orozco was recruited to Skyline by Omer Thompson, telecommunications instructor at Skyline, through JobCore of San Francisco. Thompson spoke at Orozco’s memorial.

“Hector talked about me bringing a light into his life,” Thompson said at the memorial. “But it was Hector who brought a light into my life. I am a man with no children but many sons and Hector was one of my sons.”

The memorial had some of Orozco’s many loves on display for everyone to see. The small table held chopsticks showing his love for the Japanese culture, pictures of him playing the guitar due to his love of music, small candies that looked like a globe showcasing his love for travel and a Karate Association patch because he was so proud of his yellow belt in karate. The picture used for the flyers advertising the memorial holds special meaning for Lorena Alfaro, member of LASO and Puente.

“At the end of the year celebration we had for Puente at Chevys, Hector played the guitar and sang,” Alfaro said. “It was so touching; I didn’t know he had that in him. I was watching in awe and I remembered I had my camera, I took a picture of the moment and that picture is the one we are using for the memorial. I had it in my computer for so long, it really shows who he was. When I took the picture I never thought I would be using it for something like this.”

Tina Simms, a telecommunications instructor at Skyline, had Orozco in her class in Spring of 2003. Simms spoke at Orozco’s memorial offering words of comfort since she had no other words.

“I was devastated when I heard what had taken place,” Simms said to the audience. “Hector had an aura, a light, a sense you got if you knew him at all. Hector was very very special. After my class he continued to come see me almost every week. I am taking this semester off from teaching and I’m trying to accept the fact that I won’t be seeing him anymore. It’s almost good that I’m not teaching this semester.” Simms recalls a time when she and Orozco were speaking and he said to her “I’m sorry my English is not so good”. She told him to never be ashamed and never apologize. Simms told Orozco he was thinking in two languages and trying to speak in a language that is not his native language and not everybody can do that. She said after that, he didn’t apologize again.

Orozco was similarly described by everyone who spoke of him as a hard-working, highly motivated, sweet humble man.

“It’s rare to find someone who really listens,” Hermosillo said. “But you could tell he really listened. Whoever he was helping always felt like he was there only to help them. I always felt like I was his favorite, everyone he helped felt like his favorite.”

Daniel Tostado, President of LASO, used to joke with Orozco about how dedicated to school Orozco was.

“One day he was commenting to us that he lost about 15 pounds during the summer,” Tostado said. “He was taking three courses during the summer and didn’t have any break in between. At that moment we were laughing with him because we were telling him how school was literally killing him.”

Orozco was described by everyone who knew him as focused on his studies and extremely goal-oriented. He had hoped to transfer to either UC Berkeley or UC Santa Cruz, according to Hermosillo.

“I walked around Berkeley with him talking about what he would do next,” Hermosillo said before the memorial. “He said he had so many possibilities. He really wanted to travel; he wanted to go to Japan.”

According to Orozco’s sister, Vanessa, Orozco’s love for the Japanese culture went deeper than just martial arts and the way of life. She said in her speech at the memorial to say thanks, and said a few words on who her brother was. According to his sister, Orozco said that Latinas were okay but he really wanted to marry a Japanese woman.

The memorial ended with a circle of everyone holding hands and sharing a moment of silence for Orozco. The unity kept in the true spirit of the views that Orozco expressed.

Wong concluded her speech by saying that she wanted to give Orozco the last word, giving the quotation that has inspired so many that knew him.

The quotation Orozco put in his essay to win the Cesar Chavez scholarship was, “It does not matter if you put a lot or just a single grain of sand; what matters is to do it. If everyone puts at least a grain of sand, it’s enough to build up a big mountain, this mountain representing how big we can be if we bring the community together.”