MESA, AZ — At just 11 years old, calculus homework is no match for Monty Hernandez.
While other kids his age are hoping to make the middle school basketball team, Monty is preparing to enter his freshman year of college.
“It’s very important to study because without studying you won’t make it far,” said Monty.
Monty studies a lot.
Whether in the car or in the stands of his sister's softball game, the Mensa society member puts in the work morning and night.
“I didn’t have any idea that at 9 years old, he’d ace a high school chemistry class,” said Danielle Hernandez, Monty’s mom.
Danielle says it’s been quite the journey for her son.
He didn’t speak until he was four, was diagnosed with autism, and began his schooling in special education.
Testing would soon send him on a meteoric rise through academic levels.
“At first when I was with people that were older than me it was weird but over time it gradually got, become the norm,” said Monty.
After years of difficulty with strength, agility, and fine motor skills, Monty was diagnosed with a connective tissue syndrome.
The condition requires him to need special accommodations for his learning.
“It explains his low muscle tone, his joint pain, needing a scribe sometimes to write especially in these math classes where the problems are getting so long, he has to write so much,” said Danielle.
He continues to push through at every turn.
Sadly, doctors also discovered an ascending aortic aneurism.
Until it’s replaced with a prosthetic aorta, it’s a condition that can lead to sudden death.
“At any point in time I have to be there to say it’s time to go to Phoenix Children’s, call his cardiologist,” said Danielle through tears.
But for this determined Mesa Skyline senior, the prospect of death doesn’t phase him. Maybe even emboldens him, especially with so much left to achieve.
“If I’m gonna die, I at least try my hardest to do my life goal, I don’t want to go out without a bang,” said Monty. “I want to become a pediatric neurologist so I can help kids who aren’t as fortunate and who need help from doctors to reach their goals.”
Paying for his college will be difficult. His mother has helped him apply for many scholarships, but most require the student to be 18 years of age or older.
They’re asking for the public to help Monty make his dreams come true by donating to his future education costs.