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Heading to Harvard: Two Santa Maria students’ dreams become reality

More than 40,000 of the brightest high schoolers from across the country, and across the world, applied to Harvard University this year.

The prestigious school will only admit a little over 2,000 students for the class of 2021, and two of them are from the Central Coast.

Pioneer Valley High School senior Erik Ruiz and Santa Maria High School’s Mariana de Leon applied to Harvard not knowing if they would be accepted, but their dream became a reality.

Ruiz is the first student from Pioneer Valley High School to get accepted into Harvard. “You know, my family immigrated from Mexico, and they’ve been working hard their entire lives, so for me it makes me really proud that I’m making my family proud, and not only my family, but the whole community,” said Ruiz.

De Leon’s dreams of attending Harvard began a long time ago–with a movie. “If you’ve ever seen ‘Legally Blonde’, you’ll know she goes to Harvard, becomes a lawyer, so I was like that’s what I’m going to do.

De Leon says she has not had a weekend off since her Freshman year, and is part of after school programs and volunteers across town, but says it’s all been well worth it.

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