16-year-old graduates high school with 2 Associate's degrees, headed to Ivy League

A Valley student is going on to big things after graduating from Tranquility High School.
TRANQUILITY, Calif. (KFSN) -- A Valley student is going on to big things after graduating from Tranquility High School.

Kimberly Valadez said she will never forget the moment she received her acceptance letter to Cornell University.

"I started shaking immediately," Valadez said. "I couldn't believe it. I read it over and over again."

At just 16 years old, Kimberly has a high school diploma and two Associate's degrees, but the road to get here wasn't easy.

Born in Fresno, Kimberly moved to Mexico as a child. That's when her teachers first noticed her work ethic.

"She had to go to Mexico, and she actually took her classes back to Mexico," said Espi Sandoval, Kimberly's teacher.

Kimberly said her years spent in Mexico shaped her career goals.

"There was violence, there's violence everywhere, but in Mexico, it's a little more apparent than in the U.S.," she said.

She set her sights on forensic pathology to help bring families closure.

"Maybe being able to tell the story their family member wasn't able to tell could help them bring peace through the justice system," Valadez said.

She moved back to the states as a teen, attending Tranquility High School and setting her sites on attending an Ivy League university.

"I was curious, I wanted to see what it would be like applying there even if I didn't get to attend the school, taking away that regret of I should have applied," she said.

Kimberly finished high school in three years while getting her Associate's degree. This year the hard work paid off with an acceptance letter from Cornell.

"I tell my students three things, show up, work hard and have a vision," Sandoval said. "Kim showed up to take college classes, she worked really hard, and she had a vision to go to New York since she was a freshman."

She'll head to the university this fall and has already started taking summer courses.
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