Top Valley grad rises from humble roots

FRESNO, Calif.

Dozens of honored scholars were at the Fresno Chaffee Zoo on Thursday. Each year, Action News recognizes the valedictorians who have proven themselves academically with a series of promotions.

Among these bright and happy faces: is a South Valley teenager who has graduated at the top of her class, even with challenges at home.

Both of her parents as farm workers, so she had to stay at home taking care of her siblings, and even spent some time picking fruit as well.

"I realized I didn't want to do that. I realize they didn't want to do that for their whole life. So if I could do something so much better once I'm better off I can help my parents as well and give them a better life -- a better home," said Yovana Cortez, Monache High School senior.

Yovana Cortez has earned a scholarship worth close to a quarter of a million dollars to Brown University. She plans on studying political science and is considering becoming a civil rights lawyer.

Copyright © 2021 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.