San Bernardino senior set to attend Harvard after 30+ college acceptances

Rob McMillan Image
Friday, May 31, 2024
IE senior to attend Harvard on full-ride after 30+ college acceptances
San Gorgonio High School valedictorian Silvana Vazquez, who was born and raised in San Bernardino, is headed to Harvard University in the fall.

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (KABC) -- As the high school journey ends for hundreds of graduating seniors at San Gorgonio High School, one student is preparing to follow her college dreams across the country.

Senior Silvana Vasquez, named valedictorian at San Gorgonio High, was accepted to more than 30 different universities all across the U.S. She ultimately chose to attend one of the best schools in the nation, which also happens to be her dream school.

Vasquez, who was born and raised in San Bernardino, is headed to Harvard University in the fall.

"Especially coming from an impoverished community that rarely sees anyone get accepted, I mean I never thought I would get in.," she said.

Vasquez has certainly come a long way - when she started kindergarten, she hardly spoke any English. Even though she is now graduating with a 4.87 GPA, she often struggled.

"In fifth grade, I did not pass my state exams. I got 2s on both my math and English, and at that moment, I didn't care much about school," Vazquez said.

If she was ever short on work ethic, she said she got what she needed from her parents.

Her mother stays home to support the bright student and her siblings while her father works at a gas station. Now, she'll be the first in her family to attend college - a future first-generation college graduate.

"My mom would wake up at 5 in the morning, bring me here for my cross country practices, then she'd bring me back home, then she'd take me to school, then she'd take me to my board meetings. She'd be all over the place," Vazquez said. "Whereas my dad wakes up at 4 a.m., and comes back at 4, sometimes 5 p.m., sometimes he has to come out late at night to work."

Growing up in the social media generation presents a unique challenge for students who may struggle with mental health and online distractions, and Vazquez was not immune to these factors.

"I will say there were moments when I got really distracted with social media, as well as comparing myself with others which really brought me down a lot," Vazquez said. "One thing that helped me stay focused is knowing if I feel confident in what I'm doing, and I feel like I'll make my parents proud - that was motivation enough for me, as well as discipline. Because there were those days when I didn't want to do anything, and I had to tell myself this is for my future."

Those future dreams became a reality on a computer screen just two months ago when the senior received her Harvard acceptance letter.

"But when I got that letter, I couldn't believe it, I knew I had to go there," she said.

Vazquez is going to Harvard on a full-ride scholarship to pursue her dreams of becoming a lawyer and go into politics, all for a greater purpose beyond herself.

"We see a lot of what's going on here in San Bernardino as well, and so being a politician for me is being able to advocate for impoverished communities, especially where I grew up," she said.

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