A local student is getting a full-ride scholarship to Harvard University.
Elizabeth Esteban currently attends Desert Mirage High School in Thermal. She told News Channel 3 last January that she wanted to be the first generation in her family to achieve higher education. Now she's going to do that at one of the most prestigious universities in the country.
Esteban told Telemundo 15's Marco Revuelta that she never imagined that would attend Harvard, much less on a full-ride scholarship. She says even hesitated to apply to Harvard.
It hasn't been an easy road to Cambridge, Massachusetts for Esteban.
Esteban lives in the underserved, farm working community of Thermal, where environmental and connectivity issues cause many problems for its residents and students.
"Since I live in a community that does not have many resources I felt like I was not going to be accepted," Esteban said.
Esteban has stepped up to serve as an activist for her community. Last year, she got the attention of Congressman Dr. Raul Ruiz. Esteban wrote him a letter bringing light to these issues. The letter led to her being Ruiz's guest at the 2020 State of the Union address.
Her community's issues and hardships couldn't stop Esteban, and earlier this year, she got an email letting her know she is going to Harvard.
"I started to cry and I ran to the kitchen to my parents," Esteban said. "My parents at first did not understand the importance of how great this achievement was, then after what they understood they hugged me and said how proud they were of me."
Esteban is set to graduate from Desert Mirage High School with high honors.
"It is incredible that a student is so outstanding during this time that we have not had all the necessary resources for all students," said Alma Gonzales, principal at DMHS.
Esteban said she wants to study law and hopes to become an immigration attorney. She also hopes to one day serve in Congress.
The newest chapter of Esteban's life is still a few months away, and while she recognizes that she is a good example for her community, she hopes her story won't be so unique.
"In a nation that is made of possibilities and that our parents came to give us a better life, we must at least try for them and for our community," Esteban said.
Esteban's scholarship covers all classes, but not some daily expenses. If you would like to help, you can visit a GoFundMe page set up for her.