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Top Student - First in Math, and Third in Spanish - Lives in a Trash Dump

Sara Ines Calderon - Mas Wired
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October 11, 2012
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Even though Paloma lives in a trash dump, she scored first in math, and third in Spanish, in a national test.

Eleven year-old Paloma Noyola Martínez is the top math student in Mexico, according to the national Enlace test, and the kicker is that she lives in a community of people who survive from scavenging a dump in Matamoros, Tamaulipas.

Incidentally, she placed third overall in Spanish. Paloma attends a school with other children whose families depend on the dump, which is located across the Rio Grande from Brownsville, Texas.

“I’m happy and very proud and I’m going to continue to study,” she told local media, adding that her family and friends pleaded with her to “continue to keep trying her hardest.”

Paloma’s mother, Guadalupe Martínez, asked the state secretary of education to help her continue to send her daughter to school, since she is a widow and cannot afford to send her daughter to middle school. None of Paloma’s eight siblings were ever able to finish middle school because they couldn’t afford it, but her mother said the girl always studied hard — even after her father’s death six months ago.

The school principal has arranged to give Paloma a laptop — it has always been her dream, she said. But, he noted it would be difficult to use it, since sometimes there’s not even power available for her to be able to turn it on.

Sara Inés Calderón is a journalist and writer who lives between Texas and California. Follow her on Twitter @SaraChicaD.

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