Six years ago, Danica Gutierrez couldn’t speak English. Today, the Paul W. Bryant High valedictorian announced she’s going to Harvard.

Danica came to America with her family, settling at Tuscaloosa’s Eastwood Middle School when she was 11 years old. But once she got the language down, everything else was easy.

“I always thought that the sky is the limit, and if you are determined you can accomplish everything,” she said. “My parents have given everything to me and my sister, their support, their energy, their everything.”

But Danica didn’t just get in to Harvard — she’s a recipient of the Gates Millennium Scholarship, which pays for winners to go to any college they choose through the doctoral level. But that’s not all, she’s also picked up more than $1.4 million in other scholarships.

And it’s all thanks to her family, her teachers, her friends and her school counselor, she said.

“(Counselor Andrea Markham) was one of the main supporters that I had,” Danica said. “She was always behind me and always encouraging me to do my best and try my hardest. This is all because of her.”

Danica will join her older sister Magaly — Bryant High’s 2014 valedictorian — at Harvard.


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