Friday night marks a major milestone for Mansfield High School students and their parents. More than 500 will walk across the stage at the Mansfield Performing Arts Center to receive their diplomas.
For at least one of them - it’s a big step toward graduating with a bachelor’s degree by 18.
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At just 17-years-old, Melody Delatorre is well on her way to achieving her dream.
"I want to become a cardiothoracic surgeon, like to the top, and then hopefully own my own hospital,” said the ambitious new graduate.
Big dreams, including med school at 18 and surgical residency by 22.
"Some people go into intern year at 25 or 26 and I saw time being wasted,” she said.
Her mother said she has no doubt Melody will follow through.
"I knew she was going to do it, I knew it. It was her idea but I helped her research and plan out what she was going to do to meet her goal,” said Carmen Delatorre.
The Mansfield teen finished her high school classes last December and picked up her associate degree two weeks ago through dual enrollment -- 60 credit hours down, 60 more to go.
"I'm taking 12 this summer and maxing out on 18 in the fall. Some in the winter, 18 again in the spring. Some in May and again in the summer,” said Melody Delatorre.
It’s a balancing act, that, to her, just comes natural, even though she kept it from her friends.
"I didn't tell anyone that I was doing this,” she said.
"She definitely sets her own goals and achieves them,” said her father, Julio Delatorre.
Her proud father said her younger brother and sister better follow her lead!
"We do have that expectation now that we know that it's very possible to do,” he said with a laugh.
"We're very, very proud of her. Everyone is,” said Carmen Delatorre.
No time to waste. She starts her final year of college this summer at UT Arlington, then it's off to (most likely) Baylor Medical School next year -- where she'll still be only 18.