Over the last four years, the Hernandez twins — Daniel and Marcos, both 18 — have compiled a veritable laundry list of accomplishments at Century High School in Hillsboro. by: HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD - Daniel (left) and Marcos Hernandez have pushed each other with friendly competition.

They’ve mentored freshmen as members of Jag Crew (Jag is short for Jaguars, the school mascot), been part of the Students Today Aren’t Ready for Sex (STARS) program, kept their noses in the books at meetings of the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) club and participated in the Cure Kids Jam and Festival, which raised money for a young friend with juvenile myositis.

They’ve also played football and baseball (Daniel added track) and have been inducted into the National Honor Society. The Hernandezes, who live in Hillsboro, would say they’ve collaborated on it all.

“It helps to have a twin,” said Marcos, the younger of the fraternal twins, whose birthday is March 21. “You always have someone there to study with.”

Daniel couldn’t agree more.

“We push each other and encourage one another in everything,” he said.

Products of the Hillsboro school system — the teens went to Mooberry and Imlay elementary schools and Brown Middle School before landing at Century — Daniel and Marcos are counting the days until they graduate with the Class of 2014 on June 6.

They’ll both be wearing the special cords over their gowns that connote high academic achievement. Their parents, Christina Valenzuela and Juan Hernandez, along with their siblings, will be in the audience cheering them on.

“I feel like we’re making the whole family proud,” said Daniel.

Valenzuela, a lab supervisor at New Season Foods in Forest Grove, and Hernandez, head brewer at SakeOne in Forest Grove, each earned a General Educational Development (GED) certificate, but did not go on to college.

Their older brother, Juan Jr., graduated from Century and is living and working in San Diego. Their sister, Marissa is a freshman at Century, making Marcos and Daniel the first in their family to seek a higher education.

College is something both brothers say they’ve been dreaming of for a long time.

“I’d say it first crossed my mind around middle school,” said Daniel. For Marcos, things really jelled when he took the ACT and SAT college entrance exams his junior year — and after he realized his mom and dad supported the idea.

“Our parents encouraged us to go to college,” he said. “They want us to have a good life.”

Both brothers have received letters of acceptance to attend Oregon State University next fall. Marcos’ roommate in Buxton Hall on the Corvallis campus will be his friend Deevon Castaneda, while Daniel’s will be Zach Zouyed.

Their twin love of chemistry has them majoring in chemical engineering.

“There are a lot of things I could do with my degree,” mused Marcos. “Maybe improve the quality of life for other people.”

While Daniel took advanced-placement courses in chemistry and calculus at Century, Marcos added physics to the AP mix. They agree the extra rigor was worth it.

“It was definitely stressful,” said Daniel. “There were a lot of late nights.”

“It was tough, but worth it to get the extra knowledge,” added Marcos, who said he and Daniel had maintained a “friendly competition” at Century to see who could make better grades.

“Lately that’s kind of toned down,” he said. “We have a silent thing going, but each of us knows we support the other one.”

Asked to describe their twin in three words, the brothers looked at each other and smiled.

“Daniel is headstrong, persistent and hardworking,” said Marcos.

“Marcos is serious, determined and hardworking,” assessed Daniel. “I joke around more than he does.”

Loans and scholarships will mostly take care of the boys’ tuition, room, board and books at OSU, but they’re keenly aware that these days, a college education places a large financial burden on the shoulders of graduates.

“Someday I’d like to start a scholarship fund to help kids who can’t afford it,” said Daniel. “I definitely want to give back to my community.”

For Marcos, the desire to pay it forward will eventually take the form of mentorship — the kind of support he received from Century teacher and AVID advisor Heather Zehr.

“We attended study groups, did tutorials and practiced organizational skills that helped us get ready for tests,” he said. “Everything we did and that Ms. Zehr helped us with was designed to get us to a four-year university.”

In the next few weeks, however, with prom on May 31 and commencement a week later, the Hernandezes will bask in the glow of their achievements.

“It’s already hitting me that we’re about to graduate, and I’m really excited,” said Marcos. “Our parents are extremely proud of us.”

Daniel concurs.

“I feel a huge responsibility to do well in college and get good grades,” he said. “This is definitely a big deal.”

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