Demonstrating balance and leadership in school
Whether on the wrestling mat, at her job as a certified nurses assistant, or moving up the ranks as an ROTC cadet, Makenna Duran exudes confidence and leadership to her peers.
Duran, a junior at Crook County High School, is respected by her fellow students, teachers, and administrators at CCHS. She commented that some of her challenges in high school include balancing sports, work, and school — and everything in between.
She plans to attend med school upon graduation. She aspires to be a pediatric doctor, as she loves children, and helped her mother in her daycare. Duran moved to Prineville from California in 2011 after her mother passed away.
Duran is involved in Crook County High School sports, including girls wrestling and track. She holds the girls Oregon state wrestling title for 120 pounds and is also active on the track team for CCHS. She participates in the 4×100 relay, 4×400, and the triple jump.
Wrestling is by far Duran’s favorite sport, and she has been wrestling for approximately six years. Last year, as a sophomore, she placed third place at the girls’ state wrestling tournament.
“Sports are an outlet for me. They give me something to do, but when I am doing them, it takes my mind off everything else,” Duran expressed her love for sports. “It then gives me two hours out of the day to just be about me — there is no technology, and I can’t be on my phone. Those are my two hours in my day that are for me.”
For young women who want to wrestle or do non-traditional sports, Duran recommends that they should not be afraid to try.
“It’s mostly a men-dominated sport—wrestling is—and I know a lot of girls who have wanted to (wrestle) but feel like they can’t because of the guys,” she pointed out. “But they can. We can be just as technical as them. We may not be as strong, but we can just as technical or even more.”
Pard Smith is Duran’s wrestling coach and commented that he perceives Duran as wise beyond her years.
“Her work ethic is that of an adult. She is very driven in all the things that she does, and she works super hard,” commented Smith. “Because of that, it has put her in a situation to be successful not only in wrestling — being a state champion — but in everything that she does.”
In addition to sports, Duran works at Regency Prineville, an assisted living, rehabilitation, memory care, and nursing home in Prineville. She completed the required Certified Nurses Assistance Certification courses to acquire her CNA certification. She took them during the summer of 2022 after school was out, which took approximately two months. She often works after sports practice and when there is no school.
“I want to be a pediatric oncologist, so it is preparing me in a way,” she said of her first job. “I didn’t want an ordinary high school job, and I wanted something that was applied.”
In addition to being a star athlete, Duran is enrolled in the Crook County NJROTC program. She added that there is often a stereotype involved with the program, and she wanted to try it for herself. Duran has quickly climbed in ranks and holds the position of Company Commander.
“She came into the program just this year,” commented CCHS NJROTC Commander Scott Svoboda. “It didn’t take long, and I got a glimpse of how amazing she really truly is. Such leadership potential, super big brain, super athletic. So many things are going right for that young lady.”
Although Duran has scholarship opportunities as a part of ROTC, Svoboda added that Duran has many options because she is driven, gifted and talented. Recently she was promoted to Company senior enlisted — the senior chief petty officer for CCHS.
“I think that it is super important not to just be involved in sports but to be involved in other clubs,” emphasized Duran. “I am also involved in ROTC, leadership, and sports. They are all completely different groups of people, and so it makes you more inclusive.”
“Makenna is an example of perseverance and grit. She has risen above some difficult life circumstances and has excelled in academics, athletics, and community service,” stated CCHS Principal Michelle Jonas. “She has a contagious smile and a positive outlook on life. So thankful she is a Cowgirl!”