RENO, Nev. (KRNV & MyNews4.com) - At one time, Hug High school senior, Jose Solario, didn't believe he or his twin brother, Antonio, could go to a four-year university. Even after grants, he'd still need to pay $27,000 each year for his school of choice.
"That's more than what my parents make a year,” says Jose. “So I was like, I can't do that."
But one phone call changed his outlook forever.
"My mom called me in class and she doesn't really know how to read English,” says Jose. “So when she read the letter, she was like, ‘Jose you got some letter.’”
The letter was a congratulations for winning the coveted Gates Millennium Scholarship, which is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Only a thousand students receive the honor every year, four of them are from Nevada.
Winning the scholarship means a full-ride for Jose. It’s rewarded to low-income minority students with great financial hardship.
His teachers say the brothers who started as English language learners in the district, have a bright future.
"[They’re] hardworking, determined, fearless,” says teacher, Jason Aytes. “These guys take on anything "
Between school and extracurricular activities, the Solario brothers worked with their parents after losing their home twice.
"We started a little stand at the local swap meet and that's where we made money,” says Jose. “I remember in 4th grade, because I really felt like I really needed to help my parents out; I would sell little pencils and toys out of my backpack in elementary school.”
As they got older, the brothers took an hour and half bus ride to work at the family store after school.
“I'd get out at 9’o clock at night and then go home, and do my homework at 11 and go to sleep at one. It's hard. It’s been a hard process these last two years. "
That hard work paid off. The brothers say working alongside their parents built character and taught them the value of education.
"We didn't want to be low-income for the rest of our lives,” says Antonio. “We didn't want to keep the cycle going. We wanted to get out of it. We wanted to do something with our lives. "
Their proud principal says they've proven every stereotype wrong.
"With determination, no matter where you grew up, whatever you set your dreams to do, and that's what he did- accomplished it,” says principal, Lauren Ford.
With the financial worries erased, Jose can focus on his future as an engineer.
"The doors are open to go anywhere,” he says. “The sky is the only limit that I have right now."
Jose will attend UC Davis this fall to study civil engineering. Antonio will attend UC Berkeley and has been named a finalist for the Questbridge Scholars program.