‘Latino girls can do it!’ Milwaukee high school grad headed to Harvard

MILWAUKEE — Click below to see the life-changing moment when this Milwaukee student learned, she is going to Harvard!

Milwaukee high school grad headed to Harvard

As you will learn, the prestigious school was not only impressed with her grades, but her activism as well.

18-year-old Katherine Villanueva just graduated from Milwaukee School of Languages as the school’s class of 2022 valedictorian. She shared with TMJ4 News her acceptance letter, “Welcome to the class of 2026. I think when I opened it was like ‘Oh my gosh, I have it in my hands.'”


Katherine Villanueva

Also in her grasp is a bright future. She hopes to help others fight for immigration rights with a law degree.

“One thing I’d like to work on is immigration reform. I definitely had a lot of anxieties when I was in elementary school. I’m like, ‘Oh, what if I’m next?’ ‘What if my family is hit because of this next?’ ‘What if my family is separated?'” said Villanueva.

Those anxieties spurred her into action to get good grades to one day take care of her Mexican-American family. She says she discovered her passion to fight for social change through organizations like Voces de la Frontera.

“I think it really helped me understand that I have a voice, and really push the boundaries that I have or what other people think I should have. A lot of my activism comes from immigrant parents,” she shared.


Katherine Villanueva

Her mother is very proud saying, “I think shes a leader and a lot of Latino girls can do it. They can get there and be leaders in their schools.”

A message the valedictorian of Milwaukee School of Language left with her classmates during their graduation ceremony, “Don’t forget that your voice has power. Use it to make change when you see injustices.”

In case you are wondering, only about 4.7 percent of all students who apply to attend Harvard each year are accepted. Of those who are accepted, Harvard University’s website reports just 12.5 percent are of Hispanic descent.

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