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Young Latino with Perfect AP Computer Science Score Wants to Inspire Others

A Mexican American high school senior is one of 10 people in the world to earn a perfect score on the AP Computer Science A exam.
Harmony School of Innovation-Fort Worth, Texas senior, Miguel Padilla and his teacher Angela Garcia.
Harmony School of Innovation-Fort Worth, Texas senior, Miguel Padilla and his teacher Angela Garcia. Harmony School of Innovation-Fort Worth, Texas Facebook

A Latino high school senior from Texas has achieved what very few people have done, and he's really proud to be an example to his community.

Miguel Padilla is one of 10 people in the world who earned a perfect score on the Advanced Placement Computer Science A exam. Advanced placement courses are rigorous college-level classes offered in high school. If a student does well on the test — the material is tough — they may be able to place out of some introductory courses in college. A total of 58,141 students took the exam.

"It shows others within the community that people are capable of something more and should aspire to do more," said Padilla, who attends the Harmony School of Innovation in Fort Worth, Texas, a public charter school.

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Padilla's parents immigrated from Mexico; his dad works for the city and his mom owns a cleaning service.

Padilla's mother Maria said she has always known Miguel would be successful. She said from a young age he has shown a knack for computers and learning.

"I remember when he was in first grade a teacher approached me one day and told me that Miguel was so smart and was teaching him to use power point," Maria said to NBC Latino.

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Angélica Garcia, Padilla's computer science and mathematics teacher, said she assigns him work that he can complete faster than her — even though she has a masters degree in digital mathematics and worked as a programmer in Silicon Valley for 20 years.

"He is not only a very bright student, very talented, hard-working and dedicated, he has a big heart that distinguishes him from others," Garcia said. "He wants to help everyone like his classmates. He is always willing to help others with a big smile on his face, and he is humble with his abilities."

The family hopes this remarkable achievement will help the young student get into the highly competitive Massachusetts Institute of Technology, his top choice and one of the world's most prestigious universities.

Padilla told NBC Latino he dreams to one day work in artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Maria said she has worked hard to instill strong Latino and Mexican pride in her son by taking him frequently to Mexico to visit family. "I want my children to know our culture and spend time with my family," she said.

The proud mamá said she can't wait to see what her son will be able to do in the future with his skills and his hard work.

"My son can give so much to our Latino community!" she said.

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