Sitting in the back row of a Plant City High classroom is a high school standout.
Dhara Patel is a senior unlike any other Hillsborough County has ever seen.
"It's not really registered in my mind yet, but I'm graduating with a 10.03 GPA," Patel said Tuesday.
That's right -- a 10.03.
"I found out that was the final number, I was kind of in shock...in awe. I was like, 'Is this really possible? Did this really happen?" she laughed.
Reality sets in with one look at Dhara Patel's Plant City High schedule. She's taken 17 Advanced Placement classes and juggled night, summer, and online classes at Hillsborough Community College. She earned her Associates degree long before her high school diploma.
It didn't come easy, but Dhara doesn't regret a single moment of studying.
"I think, why not? High school's a great opportunity to do that. When I found out I could get college credit for just studying a little more, I thought, why not?" she said.
Her enthusiasm for education is contagious.
"She sits back there and she has the brightest eyes. Her smile makes me feel like the greatest teacher in the world. And she didn't ever cut corners," English teacher Alan Schism said Tuesday.
It's a work ethic earning her the role of valedictorian and a spot in Hillsborough County history.
"It's really flattering in a way but it's also really humbling, too," Patel said.
Dhara plans to attend the University of Florida in the fall and major in microbiology. She hopes to go on to dental school to become an orthodontist.