LIBERTY, Mo. -- She calls herself a dreamer. We call her beyond exceptional.
Typically, our Reaching for Excellence reports feature high school students, but in this special report, we head to William Jewell College to introduce you to senior Thais Quiroga.
Quiroga is one of 11 students in the world named a finalist for the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship.
"Knowing that there's always room to grow." That's the key to Quiroga's success.
The dreamer turned doer from La Paz, Bolivia, has worked tirelessly to achieve paramount success.
“I was actually top of the whole high school," the 22-year-old said.
She was number one in her South American class of 800 students, and she was chosen to attend the highly selective Piksi Philosophy Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Now, she's part of the Oxbridge Honors Program at William Jewell.
Quiroga spent a summer taking classes in Germany thanks to a grant from the Hall Family Foundation, but her biggest feat to date is being named one of 11 finalists in the world for a Rhodes Scholarship, one of the oldest and most-celebrated international fellowship awards in the world.
"A very prestigious opportunity to have gotten to go through," Quiroga said.
She stands out not only for her academic achievement, but for her drive to better her community.
"I grew up seeing children working in the streets, and I've had friends that were victims of trafficking," she said.
Child laboring, child trafficking -- Quiroga said it's a social reality that everywhere.
"I know very personal stories about this happening,” she said.
The 22-year-old is studying human rights and international development and plans to move back to Boliva and build a career in children's rights.
“She is helping human beings. She is concerned about human rights," philosophy professor Ken Alpern said.
Alpern is the Oxbridge Honors Program senior tutor, and he said Quiroga is the real deal.
“Twice as smart as we are, works three times as hard and she cares five times more," Alpern said.
Quiroga credits a poem as her motto in life.
"It's the need to know you've exhausted everything you can get out of life, and you've exhausted everything you can give to life and other others,” Quiroga said.
Here's a fun fact: Quiroga also holds the distinction of receiving the vIsiting Student of the Year Award at Oxford University in England.
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