Cathedral Catholic High School's Mallorie Maranda graduated June 5 in the top 2 percent of her class with a 4.5 GPA.
While Mallorie said she is very content and grateful with the opportunities she has been given, it hasn't always been an easy road. At age 15, she was diagnosed with diabetes.
Physically, she said it was a big change for her, having to take responsibility for her health by monitoring her blood sugar and giving herself insulin shots.
"It was emotionally challenging as well, the change in my lifestyle," Mallorie said. "My friends and family helped a lot."
After her diagnosis, she got more involved in the diabetic community, which led to a $5,000 scholarship that will assist the 17-year-old as she heads for the University of Southern California on a $20,000 scholarship. She plans to study political science and psychology.
At Cathedral, Mallorie was president of the World Link Club, which sought to help students be more educated in global affairs and get involved in politics. She was also involved with Campus Ministry, helping plan and lead retreats for fellow students.
Before her schedule became too hectic, she also danced ballet at Solana Beach's Ballet Art for 13 years.
Mallorie said spending time in the hospital for diabetes gave her new perspective for the volunteer work she does at Scripps Memorial Hospital in Encinitas, which awarded her with a $1,000 Martin Luther King Jr. scholarship. She had even briefly considered a career in medicine.
"I love helping patients and want to make people smile, but the blood and guts of the medical field wasn't my thing," Mallorie said.
Instead, after graduating from USC, she hopes to go to law school to become a criminal lawyer.
On top of all of her academic accolades, Mallorie recently found out that she was referred to compete in the National American Miss pageant. She will vie for the title of Miss California Teen in August with the hopes of making nationals.
"I like the idea of the pageant because it stresses a positive attitude, confidence and public speaking," Mallorie said. "And those are things all girls need to know."
As she moves on, Mallorie looks back with extreme appreciation for the education she received from Cathedral Catholic.
"The teachers were excellent. They were so passionate about their work, it made me passionate about classes I didn't even think I liked," Mallorie said. "It's a really close community, and the teachers are really good about making everyone reach their full potential."