LA JOYA, Texas (ValleyCentral) – Amanda Ranae Chapa will never forget the moment she was notified of her acceptance to Columbia University. Chapa told ValleyCentral her plan to get into the Ivy League school was seven years in the making.

“When I applied I knew that if I got in I would be going no matter what,” Chapa said. “Having my internet be slow, having to get a mobile hot spot and all these things. But clicking that email and having the Alma Mater start playing on my screen that was just the moment of me saying I got in!”

Chapa is graduating Salutatorian at La Joya High School and is the only student in the district to get accepted to an Ivy League school. But Chapa endured some challenges along the way.

“There was obstacles, there were upsets that I just didn’t see in my plan,” Chapa said. “But having that plan listed out and having my goals set so securely, of course, Columbia, and that I wanted it so bad, it just became a reality.”

Becoming a first-generation college student, Chapa told ValleyCentral that her family also drove her to achieve her goals. However, Chapa is also crediting her family at school.

“She had her interview, and she was able to do it in my classroom,” said Genesis Flores, a Teacher at La Joya High School. “I was able to hear everything and I got excited for her and as soon as she came in, we were like we knew it.”

While Amanda’s acceptance into Columbia University was no surprise to her teachers, they said Amanda has a unique motivation.

“She sets the example, she is always there to help and offer help to students that she doesn’t even know,” said Lisa Sullivan, a Teacher at La Joya High School.

As Amanda prepares to start the next chapter in her life, she also has words of encouragement to her fellow classmates.

“ It’s easy to get overwhelmed but as long as you have your drive set and as long as you have your goals set before you, you can genuinely accomplish anything,” Chapa said.