Ivy League bound: Central Texas high school senior accepted into Harvard

High school senior Noel Mendez at Del Valle High School is the first person in his family to go to college. He says reading his acceptance letter into Harvard University was such a proud moment for him and his family. 

"It was just like a heartwarming feeling, you know, to have my family here," Mendez said.

Mendez says he will be attending Harvard in the fall on a full-ride scholarship. He plans to study computer science, and possibly business, to work for a major company like Apple, Google, or Netflix, or even start his own technology company. He also received over $60,000 in scholarships. 

"I have the Amazon scholarship, and then I have a guaranteed paid internship with them next summer," Mendez said.

RELATED: Del Valle student accepted into Harvard with full ride, receives $60K in scholarships

Mendez is ranked in the top 10 percent at Del Valle High School. To get that spot, he participated in a long list of extracurricular activities. 

Mendez has participated in debate, the National Honor Society, Red Cross, and various volunteer opportunities, and he is currently the student council president. 

"I've seen him work so hard," said Maria Zapata, Noel's mom. "I was just happy for him. I don't have words to explain it."

While this has been a special moment for Mendez, he can’t stop thinking about two important people he lost over the years. 

"He lost his father," Zapata said. "But I'm here, and I'm always going to be here for him, and his sister, and he also lost a pretty good friend."

Mendez’s father won’t be able to see him walk across the stage, but he knows he will have all the love and support for his mom and sisters.


"We're here to support him," Zapata said. "Nothing is going to stop him."

Being the first in his family to go to Harvard, his older sister had to record the special moment and share it on TikTok. The video went viral with over 800,000 likes and many comments saying they are proud to see a Latino attend an Ivy League. 

"It makes you feel very proud to be Mexican," Mendez said. "Even when I went to go visit, like you don't see that many students like yourself."

Since a young age Mendez's mom has always told him "echale ganjas." Give it your all. 

"You know, all the hard work these last four years was for my family and my time," Mendez said.

Mendez says he is the first in his family to go to college, but certainly not the last.