North High School Senior Channels Her Struggles for Success

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- Everyone has a story, each one with riddled with challenging and successful moments.

The story of North High School senior Mayte Gomez-Cruz is no different.

“I have a 4.12 GPA and I got a 30 on my ACT.  I'm very proud of my accomplishments,” she smiled.

Besides excelling in the classroom, the 17-year-old is heavily involved in extracurricular activities: theater, choir, National Honor Society, Science Bound and varsity tennis -- just to name a few.

“She knew what she wanted. She started applying for schools and then scholarships, and it was every day and it was all the time,” said North High School counselor Julie Charikov.

Her success caught the eyes of several colleges, universities and ivy league schools. She accepted a full-ride academic scholarship to the University of Iowa, however, she’s on the waiting list to get into Harvard.

“Learning and school have always come easy to me, so getting good grades wasn’t that hard. But more than that, I just like learning everything,” Gomez–Cruz said.

It’s important to know the teenager's back story to understand where she’s headed.

It started 18 years ago when her family immigrated to the United States from Mexico in search for a better life, but that's when things got tough. Her father was diagnosed with terminal bone cancer a few years ago. She says that as she watches her father fight for his life, it’s also what is keeping her fighting for every possible opportunity.

“Everything is out in front of me, and I can do whatever I set my mind too,” Gomez–Cruz said.

She hopes her story of difficulty and success will inspire other minorities to reach for their goals. Gomez–Cruz will find out sometime in June if she was accepted to Harvard.

North High School's graduation is Saturday at 9 p.m. at Drake University’s Knapp Center.