Despite the challenges Sarah Delgado and her family faced throughout the years, the 18-year-old Donna High School senior achieved her goal of becoming the 2016-2017 valedictorian of her class.

Coming from a family with two older sisters, Delgado never had a chance to enjoy their sibling relationships because they were more than 20 years older than her. Both sisters were married with children when Delgado was born. Her mother was 45 years old when she was born.

“A lot of people call me a miracle baby because my mom had me at such a delicate age,” Delgado said. “Some people even told her that I would be born with a birth defect. She took it to heart but thanks to the grace of God, I was a perfectly healthy baby when I was born and here I am today, the DHS valedictorian.”

Delgado said that it meant a lot to her to make her parents proud. “I like the fact that I was able to prove those people wrong and make my parents proud,” Delgado said. “That’s all I’ve ever wanted to do since I was young, I wanted to make them proud.”

Delgado’s young life had its trials and tribulations. At the age of six, she was diagnosed with epilepsy. “I was referred to a neurologist and had to visit him monthly,” Delgado said. “I was scared because I didn’t know what I had and what was happening to me. I didn’t know why I had to see this doctor every month when other kids didn’t.”

DSC_0213She said her attitude about seeing the doctor changed over time. “I started loving to visit him so I went from being scared to happy to go see him,” Delgado said. “I would be in the waiting room with a lot of other kids who had other neurological disabilities and they weren’t scared at all either. There were happy to be there because of the way he treated us. He really cared for us and assured us that everything would be okay eventually.”

The senior said that her fond memories at the doctor’s office impacted her decision to choose neurology as her future career. She plans to attend The University of Texas at Austin. “I love learning about the brain, the way it works and how these disorders and conditions can affect people. That, and the fact that my doctor was so caring with us and playful toward children, really made me realize that I wanted to learn more about neuroscience. I wanted to help care for people and reassure them that they’ll be okay.”

After six years of treatment, Delgado got better and no longer had to see the doctor. She eventually learned that her mother had been battling cancer at the same time. Her mother is now cancer free. “My mom didn’t tell me back then that she had cancer,” Delgado said. “She just told me a couple of years ago but the fact that she had to endure that while I was enduring epilepsy really showed me that she was so strong during that time. It motivated me more.”

She said that her motivation to do well started at a very young age. “When I was in elementary school the students were ranked,” Delgado said. “I was under the impression that I was going to be first because I worked my little brain out but I came in second and that tore me apart. I really wanted it. So when I went to middle school I pushed myself even harder. I still came in second. Then in high school I pushed myself from day one and when my counselor told me that I was ranked number one in my sophomore year I was so happy. I tried my best to hold on to it and, thanks to God, I held the rank for four years.”

Delgado credits her parents for molding her into the person she is today. “They raised me with strong values and morals and taught me right from wrong,” Delgado said. “They taught me that education is super important.”