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To speak with faculty, administrative colleagues, and students who knew Durán is to hear again and again how, beyond her vast knowledge and wisdom, it was her sense of humor they will most remember—her wit, her joy, and her infectious laugh. “When Karin laughed, it was a laugh from her whole heart. It was a warm laugh, it was genuine,” says Curzon. While her humility may have made her shrink from the idea of a makeshift altar established in the library — at first for friends and colleagues to hope or pray for her recovery; later for them to visit, remember, and mourn — Durán’s whimsical nature would have appreciated the winking nod that her memorial was built atop a modest book cart.
That humility and humor never diminished Durán’s force when advocating for underrepresented groups. In fact, her disarming spirit served her well. Terri Lisagor, Assistant Professor of Family and Consumer Sciences, says, “She’s like a little electron. Her smile goes up right away, her eyes just bubble with enthusiasm, and she always knows, it seems, what to say, what to feel, and how to connect with everybody she meets. She’s just awesome.” Maria Reza — President of Comisión Feminil San Fernando Valley, which promotes the political and economic empowerment of Hispanic women — noted at the campus gathering that Durán had taught her “a real warrior for social justice can also have grace, manners, and dignity.”
Durán was a driving force in the La Raza Alumni Association, which honored her with an Outstanding Achievement Award. She also sat on the board of the Los Angeles chapter of REFORMA, which named one of its scholarships for her in 2010. In recognition of her community advocacy, the Faculty Senate has honored Durán with an Extraordinary Service Award, and CSUN’s Alumni Association posthumously recognized her enormous contributions to CSUN and community organizations with a Volunteer Service Award.
Durán’s legacy is more than assured. She was recently inducted into Phi Beta Delta Omega, the Northridge chapter of the first nationwide honor society dedicated to recognizing scholarship achievement in international education, and she will continue to affect the lives of future students by way of a scholarship created in her name by the Associated Students. The scholarship will be available to students of Chicana and Chicano Studies, to be awarded by the Department in cooperation with the College of Humanities. But beyond the professional honors, her spirit may live on most indelibly in the personal memories of those who were privileged to know and work with her. “Her personal dignity, her deep respect for others, her generous nature, and her sincere wish for everyone to do well were the hallmarks of her character,” says Curzon. “We will miss her very much.”
— Submitted by Teresa K. Morrison
Donations to the Dr. Karin Durán Memorial Scholarship may be sent to:
- Jennie Quinonez-Skinner, Oviatt Library
- California State University, Northridge
- 18111 Nordhoff St., Northridge CA 91330-8327