BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - A local Delano girl will attend Harvard University this fall on a full ride scholarship.
Xochitl Morales graduated from Wonderful College Prep Academy in Delano in June with a 4.4 GPA, setting her up as a Harvard Gates Scholar.
"They called me a month early and they told me that I got in," Morales said. "I was in the living room with my mom and my dad, with the phone on speaker and I just started crying. Harvard has been my dream school since I was in sixth grade."
Morales credits her teachers for pushing her to succeed in the classroom.
"Those teachers were the ones who tell me that my works and my ideas were worthy of being present at these prestigious institutions," Morales said.
This year, 90 percent of last years graduating seniors at Wonderful Prep will attend a 4-year university.
Morales is the first from the school to attend Harvard.
"Xochitl represents the best of Delano and the best of Wonderful Prep Academy," senior vice president of Wonderful Education Noemi Donoso said. "She's talented, hard working, cares deeply about her community and incredibly tenacious."
Morales said her family is her biggest cheer section and inspiration.
"The sacrifices that my parents made and their ability to be hard working and tenacious and just their incredible perseverance have completely contributed to the way I have approached my academics and just the way I approach life in general," Morales said.
Morales received 21 college acceptances, including Harvard, Yale, Columbia and Princeton, but it's her long time involvement in mariachi she said makes her stand out.
"I think it was the most important part for me," Morales said. "It meant being in touch with my culture. It meant representing our la raza and just the people of our community. It meant just preserving that culture for the new generations."
Morales said she plans to continue her passion with Harvard's mariachi group.
"It's really contributing to the comfortability I already have towards the school," Morales said. "That feeling of anxiousness or just anxiety or just kind of fear is completely over showed by excitement."
Morales said she is still deciding on what she will study, but knows at some point she wants to go to law school.
Morales leaves for Harvard August 21.
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