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DENVER — A recent Denver Graduate has a earned a scholarship that promises a very bright future, but she says it wouldn’t be possible without her dark, emotional past.

Denver North High School valedictorian Aracely Navarro overcame poverty, a legacy of dropouts, disciplinary issues, her mother’s cancer and even an improbable birth to rise to the top of her class and earn the prestigious Gates Millennium Scholarship.

The scholarship, awarded to only 1,000 students nationwide, offers a full scholarship for all levels of school that a student pursues, from undergraduate to graduate school.

“I started crying,” Aracely said. “I sobbed and fell to my knees. I was like, ‘Wow, this is so surreal.’”

Fox 31 Denver’s Kent Erdahl explains in his video report above how Aracely put her emotional journey into words and essays that helped earn her national recognition and unlimited potential.