LAKELAND, Fla. — 17-year-old Sergio Perez has spent the last two years working on both his high school diploma and his Associates degree. The hard work is already paying off.

  • Sergio also teaches children, seniors about computers and coding
  • Plans to study artificial intelligence
  • More Good News stories

Perez says his life changed completely the moment he learned he'd been accepted to Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

"I read through [the acceptance letter] and I couldn't believe that I got accepted, so I read through it again," he said.

The teen spent the last two years at Lakeland Collegiate High School while at the same time completing an associate's degree from Polk State College.

"I think the rigor here has definitely been a huge factor in my preparation to be able to go to MIT," Perez explained.

Somehow, though, in the midst of all that rigorous study, Perez found the time to start his high school's first Spanish Club, which focuses on community service.

"We're the only cultural club, so we just wanted to go back and help our community, the Hispanic community in Lakeland," he said.

Oh, and did we mention he also takes time to teach children and seniors about computers and coding?

"Making a schedule and sticking to it is definitely something I had to learn to do," Perez said.

Perez is the first member of his family to go to college. When his mother, Belkis Porro, emigrated from Cuba 20 years ago, she never imagined the heights of success her son has reached.

"For me, it was always an obligation to help him get ahead," Porro told us. "But this has been something beyond my wildest dreams."

Perez hopes to turn his passion for computers into a career in software development. He plans to study artificial intelligence at MIT.

And for other first-generation college students, he has some advice.

"Dream big," he said.