Campus: CSU Bakersfield -- June 12, 2002

Student, With Life Filled with Challenges, Receives His Bachelor's Degree In Communications From California State University, Bakersfield

When Daren Yurosek was 7 years old, doctors gave him six months to live. A few years later, they told him he'd never graduate from high school. When he quit his job a few years ago to go to college, some friends and family didn't think he'd be able to do it.

Yurosek, now 29, has spent his life defying the laws of nature and exceeding others' expectations. This Saturday, he's going to do it again when he receives his bachelor's degree in communications from California State University, Bakersfield.

"It's just always been a goal of mine to complete college - another challenge for me to tackle" Yurosek said. "I've tackled many challenges in my life before this and I thought this was a good opportunity at this time in my life to take on another one."

Yurosek's life has been filled with challenges. When he was 7, doctors found a tumor the size of a lemon on the right side of his brain. His parents took him to experts at all the top California medical schools. Most said there was no hope. But they finally found a doctor at the University of California, San Francisco who was willing to try what may have been considered unconventional medical treatments for that era to save Yurosek's life.

A team of doctors was eventually able to reduce the size of the tumor and remove it, but not without some damaging effects. Yurosek suffered a seizure that impaired right brain activities. He was left with limited use of his left arm and leg and has difficulty with quantitative and organizational skills.

But one thing Yurosek didn't lose was his motivation.

He graduated from Garces High School in 1991, then attended Cuesta Community College in San Luis Obispo where he obtained associate's degrees in marketing and management. He was working as a purchasing assistant for Boskovich Farms when he decided there were more challenges waiting ahead.

"It was one of the toughest things I've ever had to do: leaving a secure job and not knowing whether I would be successful in finishing my college degree," he said.

Yurosek was denied admission to another university but found he was welcome at CSUB.

"Cal State Bakersfield gave me the opportunity to fulfill my dreams - to go to school with my disability. Once I was given that chance, I'm the evidence that I could do it. The Learning Center helped me with my extra needs and provided the extra assistance that I need. I'm appreciative of that."

Yurosek, along with more than 200 other students at CSUB receive assistance from The Learning Center. The Center provides academic assistance such as note-taking, tutoring, testing services and advising to help students overcome their disabilities and earn a college degree.

Learning Center coordinator Janice Clausen said Yurosek has been a great student and an excellent role model for students with and without disabilities.

"Motivated. That's the word I think of when I think about Daren," Clausen said. "Getting through college is difficult for anyone but when you have obstacles like Daren's, it can seem overwhelming. This is a tremendous accomplishment and we're very proud to see him graduate."

Yurosek is looking forward to crossing the stage and receiving his diploma. But he's not stopping there. He'd like to become a spokesperson for the American Cancer Society or a sports broadcaster. He said these may sound like lofty goals but he believes in setting his sights high.

"I think things will happen for me," Yurosek said. "I'm meant to be alive and I'm meant to have a degree so I'm here for a reason. I hope to be an inspiration for people with cancer or other kids. I want them to remember that if you set your limits high, keep your mind open and keep doing the best you can, and if you have that determination and desire to go on, you'll be successful."

CONTACT: Becky Zelinski, 661/664-2138, bzelinski@csub.edu
or Mike Stepanovich, 661/664-2456, mstepanovich@csub.edu


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