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Heights High School senior wins scholarship after overcoming car crash, traumatic brain injury

Cathrenia De Mendoza underwent eight months of rehab but still made honor roll. She's one of 35 HISD seniors to receive the Superintendent Scholar Award.

HOUSTON — Ten Houston ISD seniors who overcame extraordinary obstacles were surprised with scholarships Wednesday from Superintendent Millard House II. 

We met Cathrenia De Mendoza, a Heights High School senior, who has a remarkable story of determination and perseverance. 

Cathrenia was critically injured in a car accident in North Texas last year. She suffered a traumatic brain injury and spent months undergoing rehab at TIRR Memorial Hermann.

There were hours of long, painful physical therapy and speech therapy and Cathrenia even had to re-learn how to write her name. 

"She overcame a lot, eight months of rehab, and now she's honor roll," proud mom Diana De Mendoza told us. "She's been admitted to several universities and she's chosen University of Houston Downtown."

Cathrenia, whose friends call her Cat, has decided to study biomedical engineering. 

"I'm so excited. I want to help people who are in the same situation I was in," she said. "And it was a really hard time for me, but I persevered with God."

She and nine other seniors were given $2,600 Superintendent Scholars Award and new laptops.

Twenty-five other seniors were awarded $1,200 scholarships by the superintendent.

Every HISD high school principal nominated one senior for this award.  

The award is for high school seniors who have exemplified outstanding character and resilience by facing and overcoming obstacles in their lives, including navigating the foster care system, homelessness, and other unique challenges.

Congratulations to all of them!

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