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First Austin High School student accepted into Ivy League School in 33 years

HOUSTON – A student at Houston Independent School District made history with her recent acceptance into Cornell University.

“I was shaking and I read, ‘Congratulations’ and I yelled! I screamed,” said Abigail Calva.

Abigail Calva said she screamed in excitement as she read her long-awaited acceptance letter.

“I just felt relief, because all of my hard work paid off for being accepted into Cornell,” Calva said.

The 17-year-old salutatorian became the first student from Austin High School to get into an Ivy League University in 33 years.

“He didn’t have a high school education so he helped me as much as he could,” Calva said about her father.

The first-generation college student said her motivation started in her home, where Spanish is the primary language.

“He would always give me 20 problems each day and I would solve them,” Calva said.

“Instead of telling her, ‘Oh we’re poor. We’re from Mexico. I don’t speak English,’ her dad never made excuses,” said school counselor Victoria Salinas.

Salinas said it was Calvas’ family foundation that has gotten her so far and admired that she was able to help Calva during the admission process.

Salinas and Calva have gotten so close, they even started training for a half marathon together.

“When she looks at challenges, she doesn’t see them as challenges, she sees them as an opportunity,” Salinas said.

Salinas said her acceptance is Calvas’ opportunity to share a message that no matter what your circumstances are, they shouldn't limit your expectations.

“I like how it’ll serve as motivation for other students, knowing someone from their school applied to an Ivy League school or a top-tier school and was accepted,” Calva said.

After graduating from Austin High School, Calva plans to study architecture at Cornell.