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Class of 2000
Miranda A. Elkins saved Hedilberto Martinez, Jr., and attempted to save Robert Diaz from drowning, South Padre Island, Texas, August 20, 2004. Martinez, 18, was swimming in the Gulf of Mexico when he was carried away from shore by a strong current. Unable to return against the current to shore, he called for help. On the beach in that vicinity, Diaz, 46, and Elkins, 22, college student, were among those alerted to his plight. Diaz entered the water and waded and swam to Martinez, then grasped him. Elkins also swam out to him. After Martinez grasped Elkins and submerged her, Elkins surfaced and talked to him, to calm him. On her direction, he then held to her as she swam toward shore. As it was a windy day, their progress was hampered by rough water and the current. They reached shore safely. Diaz, meanwhile, also encountered difficulty in the water. After delivering Martinez safely onto the beach, Elkins called on the help of three bystanders and then swam back out to Diaz, finding him floating face down. They returned him to shore and Elkins attempted to revive him through CPR. He was removed to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Neither Martinez nor Elkins was injured. The Carnegie Hero Fund Commission contacted Elkins shortly after the ordeal. After an extensive interview process and fact-checking, the Commission awarded Elkins the Carnegie Medal for Heroism in December 2005. Diaz was posthumously awarded as well. Along with a cash award, the Commission also granted Elkins a full college scholarship. The scholarship made it possible for Elkins to complete her undergraduate education. In addition, Elkins was awarded her Master's degree in December 2009. The scholarship will allow her to pursue doctoral study in the future.