SAN ANTONIO – Loretta Nieto has had a busy senior year at Southside High School.
Nieto is on the soccer and cross country teams, but she's also a star when it comes to academics.
"My first year I enrolled in the early college program. I wanted to get a headstart on my education for outside of school," she said.
When Nieto graduates, she will not only be the class salutatorian, she will also earn an associate degree in liberal arts from Palo Alto College.
She plans to further her college education to study to be a pediatrician.
"I want to be able help children that also went through similar cases as mine. I want to be able to spread my arms out and be able to make a difference in other children's lives. The same that other people did for me.
"My mom had been addicted to drugs for a long time before I was actually born. It had been a rough path, with my mom and my father actually had rough upbringings, as well," Nieto said.
Nieto said she doesn't remember her mother being addicted to drugs.
"I stayed living with my mom a while. We lived in Austin. That's when she started going to meetings to AA (Alcoholics Anonymous). She had me up until 13, is when she lost her rights over me again. That's when I started
permanently living with my grandparents here in San Antonio."
Nieto's grandparents are extremely proud of her for all that she has accomplished despite her struggles.
Nieto said she wants to better herself and her younger siblings, who are now living in different homes.
"It was heart-wrenching to see those first few months of getting here, because she missed her siblings so much," said Irene Nieto, her grandmother.
Loretta Nieto said her next goal is to finish the prerequisites for her nursing degree so she can apply to UT Health San Antonio to get a bachelor's degree in science and nursing.
She would like to be a nurse practitioner and focus on pediatrics.