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Article TitleJessie and Janet Miranda moved to the United States when JJ was 4 years old. They had given up a comfortable life in the Philippines to guarantee schooling for their younger child and only son.

In San Francisco, Jessie Miranda—who had been a bookkeeper in a bank in the Philippines—worked the graveyard shift as a security guard at a hotel. During the day, Janet Miranda worked the front desk at the same hotel. They rented a two-bedroom apartment and made sure one parent was around to watch out for their son.

A mentor to treasure, a protégé to watch

JJ Miranda had the privilege of having as a mentor one of Reed’s great alumni scientists, Ken Raymond ’64, professor of chemistry at the University of California–Berkeley. Miranda worked in Raymond’s laboratory in the summer of 1999 at the end of his sophomore year, and in that summer he was co-author of three papers, along with Raymond and others in Raymond’s group. Raymond ordinarily would not have taken on someone who was so young and who did not have experience in Berkeley or in his lab, but a professor at the University of California– San Francisco with whom Miranda had worked during his high school years persuaded Raymond to work with him. Raymond was deeply impressed with Miranda, saying ”I have had two genius undergraduate coworkers (I use the G word very rarely). The other is Justin DuBois, now assistant professor in chemistry at Stanford. JJ will be as bright a star.”

Raymond was recently elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, along with such notables as Paul Newman, Woody Allen, and the King of Spain. He will also be celebrated at a gathering of his friends, former students, and colleagues that will be held in January to honor his 60th birthday

-Nadine Fiedler

Read more on Ken Raymond

“We worried about gangs,” Jessie Miranda, 58, says. “We wanted only a good education for him.”
When their son started college, they moved to a smaller studio apartment to help pay his living expenses.

“I owe them a lot for what they did for me,” JJ Miranda says. “Work ethic, how to live, how to be a good person—I got from them.”

Miranda is chatty, self-deprecating and above all, thoroughly regular. Even if he did rack up enough advanced placement credits in high school to graduate college in three years. He doesn’t score A’s in all his classes.

In June, Miranda started graduate work at Harvard University. And while he may dream of finding a cure for cancer, Miranda says he also would like to touch people on a more personal level.

“I really want to be able to—if it’s possible—to make the same type of difference for someone else that Arthur and other people made in my life,” he says.
End of Article
Janie Har is a reporter with the Oregonian. Copyright
2001, Oregonian Publishing Co. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission. 


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