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MOTT HAVEN, the Bronx (PIX11) — KIPP NYC College Prep High School in the Bronx celebrated 292 seniors. Some of them are heading to college for the first time.

Four years of hard work is paying off for the students. Many of them are set to be the first in their families to go to college.

Valedictorian Carla de la Cruz told PIX11 News she learned English at the age of 12 after moving to America from the Dominican Republic. Columbia University was her first-choice school, and she made it her mission to get in for early decision — a goal she accomplished. She credits her family for instilling a work ethic.

“I come from a low-income family … They’ve always taught me the way out is through my education,” she said. “I’m doing it all for them.”

Her goal is to become a lawyer so she can “empower and represent” her community and fix the criminal justice system.

Darwin Restrepo, another senior, is headed to Yale on a full scholarship. He told PIX11 News he used his single, working mother as motivation to better his family’s life.

He said his goal is to be a climate scientist and save the earth.