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South Bay high school senior has to choose between Ivy League schools

Parents sacrifice led to student's success
Posted at 7:05 PM, Apr 12, 2017

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - A Southwest High School senior had the honor of picking between the best universities in the country. On top of that, Karen Fernandez may be the only South Bay student accepted into Harvard this year. She got the letter recently from the Ivy League school.

“And it said, ‘Congratulations!’ in big words and my mom and I started crying,” she said.

Fernandez, who is graduating as the school’s salutatorian by a hundredth of a point, said she owed her success to her parents.

“They left everything behind to become field workers, picking fruit and vegetables,” Fernandez explained. 

Her father was a doctor and her mother was a teacher in their native Mexico. They came to America to have a better life for their family.

“They have sacrificed so much for me,” she said.

Fernandez said her secret was simply working hard and staying focused. However, she said her family never had a lot of money. Fernandez said she has worked for her father selling second-hand clothes at swap meets since she was 10.

“On the weekends, we pack up at three in the morning and we got to the swap meet and sell," she said.

Her parents sacrifice inspired her to work hard in school. It paid off.

“I was accepted to UC San Diego, UCLA, UC Berkley, Stanford, Yale, Princeton, and Harvard,” she said.  “I think it’s breaking my heart to have to say, ‘No’ to a school like Princeton and a school like Yale.”

Fernandez said she wants to become a pediatrician and pay her community back.

“Even when you’re a Latina, when you’re a minority here in the United States it is possible to achieve your dreams.”