FRAN AND HERNANDO MARROQUIN; OWNERS AND OPERATORS OF SIX MCDONALD'S : VITALS.
FRAN and Hernando Marroquin came from different backgrounds. He is the son of migrant farm workers who picked fruit during school vacations; she is the daughter of a college athletic director, the third generation in her family to go to college.
They share a belief in the importance of education, which they credit for their success.
As owners of six McDonald's restaurants in the Antelope Valley, the Palmdale couple are spending their money and time promoting education and encouraging kids to go to college.
``I really believe that this state offers an opportunity to all of us to achieve goals through education,'' said Hernando, who holds a bachelor's degree in economics from UCLA and a master's in business administration from California State University, Los Angeles. ``That's why we push so hard for kids to go to college.''
Since buying their first two Antelope Valley restaurants and moving there in 1990, the Marroquins have developed a reputation for generosity. They help with everything from buying animals at the Antelope Valley Fair to sponsoring major sporting events at Antelope Valley College.
``I think they are wonderful people who have big hearts. They are guided by a spirit of wanting to help and uplift kids,'' said Diana Beard-Williams, director of the Palmdale Education Foundation. ``If you bring a project to them or make a request, and if they can see that it benefits kids, they are all ears.''
The Marroquins began co-sponsoring Antelope Valley College's preseason basketball tournament in the early 1990s. In 1996, they started the Junior Marauder Club, which lets kids get into the college's football and basketball games for free.
In December, the couple co-sponsored and organized the first McDonald's Community College Bowl football game. It raised $15,000 for the Palmdale and Lancaster education foundations, which are fund-raising arms of the school districts. Fran is the president of the Lancaster foundation, and Hernando is active in the Palmdale foundation.
In October, the Marroquins were honored by the Palmdale School District for a $12,000 contribution to the district's planetarium.
In 1998, the Marroquins will focus on doubling the take at the second annual college bowl.
The couple also will work on organizing tours of Antelope Valley College for elementary school students to expose them to a college environment at a young age.
Fran will work with a committee of college administrators that will looks at how to increase enrollment of Latino students in higher education.
``We've seen the value of education ourselves. We've seen so many people who have so much potential that never realized their potential because there wasn't someone along the way that gave them a push,'' Fran said. ``It's a good feeling to be in a position to help others. The payback comes in the gratification of knowing that you helped somebody. We feel very grateful for the success that we've had and it feels good to share that.''
Fran's father was a coach and athletic director at a Catholic college in Albuquerque, N.M., where she grew up, then became director of bilingual education at the U.S. Department of Education in Washington, D.C.
Hernando was the son of farm workers and didn't enroll in school until age 7 because his family was following the crops. He was the first in his family to go to college.
His second-grade teacher told his parents he possessed college potential, and that they should make sure to do everything to encourage him.
Hernando attended UCLA on a scholarship, picking fruit during the summer and setting up tutorial programs at junior and senior high schools as part of a work-study program.
Hernando spent 10 years with PacBell, rising to an executive rank in the marketing department. Fran worked 15 years as a counselor and administrator at East Los Angeles College in Monterey Park.
They bought their first McDonald's in Torrance in 1988, then in 1990 had an opportunity to buy two franchises, in Lancaster and Mojave. Now they have four fast-food eateries in Lancaster, one in Mojave and one in Rosamond.
The couple said they want all children to consider college as a viable option.
``We want to get kids to become aware of getting a college education at a young age, to reach kids at the elementary school level to start thinking of college so that by the time they get to high school, it's not whether they are going to college, but which college they are going to,'' Hernando said.
AGE: 46 and 47
FAMILY: Married with two children, a 17-year-old son and a 14-year-old daughter
GOAL for 1998: To raise $30,000 at the second annual McDonald's Community College Bowl at Antelope Valley College and donate proceeds to the education foundations of the Lancaster and Palmdale school districts
PHOTO (color) Fran and Hernando Marroquin
John Lazar/Special to the Daily News
Box: Vitals (see text)