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New documentary tells story of Sun Devils' perseverance, achievement

"Underwater Dreams" movie poster
July 17, 2014

In 2004, an unlikely group of students from Carl Hayden High School in Phoenix, Arizona – located in an underrepresented, economically challenged part of the city – made national news when they beat out Massachusetts Institute of Technology and other colleges to win a national robotics competition.

Now the story of those students, including Arizona State University alumnus Oscar Vasquez, is being told in a new documentary film, “Underwater Dreams.” The film has already had premieres in Los Angeles and New York City, and will be premiering in Phoenix beginning July 18 at the AMC Arizona Center.

Since he was young, Vazquez had dreamed of attending ASU to pursue a college education. “I fell in love with ASU during a middle school field trip, with all the cool stuff they had. I never gave up the idea of getting a degree,” Vazquez says.

And in May 2009, he did just that. Vazquez listened to President Barack Obama's historic commencement speech, as he spoke to ASU graduates about making a difference and pursuing their dreams, no matter the obstacles – something he knew plenty about.

Later, Vazquez was also able to fulfill his other dream of joining the U.S. Army. He became a paratrooper, serving in Afghanistan for 10 months, and was granted citizenship at the close of basic training. He and his wife now live at Fort Richardson in Alaska with their two children.

Vazquez’ story is one of perseverance and achievement. “Underwater Dreams” revisits that story, highlighting how he and his classmates forged a legacy that continues to inspire students to this day.

Other notable Carl Hayden High School students who went on to achieve great things at ASU include: Angelica Hernandez, recent outstanding graduate of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering; Ingrid Tay, a mechanical engineering graduate currently working for Microchip Technology Inc in Chandler, Arizona; and Mabel Munoz, a recent biomedical engineering graduate.

Faridodin "Fredi" Lajvardi and Allan Cameron, both Carl Hayden teachers and mentors to Vazquez’ robotics team, are also graduates of ASU.

For more information on tickets and pricing, or to view the trailer, click here.

To read a full profile on Vazquez, access the ASU Magazine article on him here.