Four Long Island first-generation graduates heading to the Ivy League

Four high school students from Long Island are making history by becoming the first members of their family to go to college. 

And all four students aren't just heading to any college, but to the Ivy League!

"I didn’t know what was happening. It was kind of like a breathless excitement and then I started jumping around in my room," said Melanie Acosta. 

That’s was the Hempstead teen’s reaction when she found out she got accepted into Cornell University this fall. It’s a dream the Valedictorian at The Academy Charter High School always hoped to achieve but never knew if she would. 

"To actually have it happen, I haven’t fully processed it, but it’s really exciting," said Acosta. 

Acosta is the daughter of immigrant parents and she’s the first in her family to attend college. It’s a similar story for Jason Alvarez and Salutatorian Bianca Estrada, who are also both attending Cornell in the fall.

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"They gave up a lot of things, they came from their home countries Mexico and Ecuador so they could come here and give me a better life, and they worked hard hours, long nights just so I can be in school and be where I am," said Estrada. 

They and their peers graduate this week, proving themselves in a low-income community, where 75% of the students here qualify for free and reduced lunch. 

"I don’t think I would have made it to Cornell if I didn’t come to the Academy because I did grow way more when I did come to this school," said Alvarez. 

89 students at The Academy Charter High School are getting their diplomas this week. All of them are going to college in the fall, and one is joining the U.S. Army. The school’s Chief Academic Officer says his goal is to make the impossible - possible - and let students achieve their dreams, despite any economic struggles.

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