Coachella Valley teen defies odds with acceptance to Harvard University with full-ride scholarship

COACHELLA, Calif. (KABC) -- A Coachella Valley student, who is the daughter of Mexican immigrants, defied the odds after being accepted into one of the most esteemed universities in the country.

Elizabeth Esteban has accomplished a dream that many young Latinos aspire to achieve: getting a full-ride scholarship to Harvard University.

"No one in this community has been able to accomplish this and I feel very proud and very thankful and very happy because no one here thinks someone from here...can accomplish something like this," she said.

Esteban lives in a mobile home in the Coachella Valley. Her parents are indigenous people of Purepecha descent from Michoacán, Mexico and they work in the agriculture fields.

Despite having little resources, they have fought to give her and her siblings a better life.

"Yes, it was worth it because my daughter now has accomplished what she always wanted, her dream of an education and now with more reason, I am very proud that she is completing her goals," her mother said.

Watch Univision's report in Spanish
EMBED More News Videos

A Coachella Valley student, who is the daughter of Mexican immigrants, defied the odds after being accepted into one of the most esteemed universities in the country. Press play to watch Univision's report in Spanish.



Esteban says the fear of being a low-income Latina almost caused her to not apply to the prestigious university. According to Harvard's most recent data, 40% of students accepted are white and only 5% are Latinos.

"Well, at first, I was not going to apply to Harvard because I didn't feel like my accomplishments earned me the right to attend such a prestigious university," she said.

But being a member of a low-income family was not her only obstacle. Her high school was forced to close due to the pandemic, like all others across the nation, creating another roadblock in her learning.

2 Santa Ana High School students accepted to number of Ivy League schools, including Harvard

EMBED More News Videos

Congratulations are in order for two Santa Ana High School students, who have been accepted to a number of Ivy League schools, including Harvard!



"I am one of the students that also has problems with the internet because I use the internet that was given to us by the district," Esteban said.

Because of the low connectivity in the rural area that she lives in, she missed some of her admissions interview with Harvard. But through it all, her hard work paid off.

"But after, I thought about myself and how I needed to keep fighting and the pandemic was another obstacle I needed to overcome," Esteban said.

Copyright © 2021 KABC Television, LLC. All rights reserved.