MORENO VALLEY, Calif. (KABC) -- A Moreno Valley teen is realizing her childhood dream.
Nicole Zuno was not only accepted to Harvard but 16 other universities - and earned a prestigious full scholarship from the Gates Foundation.
At one point, the daughter of two immigrant parents didn't know how she would pay for college.
Zuno's acceptance to the Ivy League school is the realization of her parents' sacrifice and her own years of hard work.
"It has definitely been my childhood dream," she says. "I was probably 9 years old when I knew I wanted to go to Harvard."
Zuno, a Valley View High School senior, had plenty of prestigious schools to choose from. She was accepted to Dartmouth, Cornell, Princeton and Brown, among others.
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"It is definitely exciting and it was completely unexpected for me, I think, just applying to all these universities. I am a first-generation college student so for me it was like this big deal."
Zuno is also one of just 300 students across the country to receive full funding from The Gates Scholarship, provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
She plans to study human development in the hopes of one day becoming a researcher, a career inspired by her younger sister's disability.
"I think there are so many genetic disorders out there. We don't know that much about each and every single disorder. So that's something I hope to pursue and I want to research and learn more about those diseases."
As the daughter of two immigrant parents who wasn't sure how to pay for college, she has this advice for others:
"I'd say if you are out there and you want to apply for school or maybe you think you can't afford to go to college, definitely go for it. I think there's a lot of opportunities financially to go to college."