A sixth form student from Bargoed has earned a scholarship at a college in the United States.
Naomi Gauden, who is head girl at Heolddu Comprehensive School, will be enrolling at Trinity College in Connecticut on August 21.
Naomi, 18, earned the scholarship because of her high GCSE grades of six A* grades, six A grades and one B grade.
A Welsh Government scheme then put her in touch with social mobility charity the Sutton Trust, which helped Naomi get the scholarship.
Naomi said: “It’s honestly the most amazing experience I think I’ll ever have in my life.
“I’m nervous but it’s such a great opportunity and I’m looking forward to my family seeing what I can achieve out there.
“When I first had my acceptance into the college I was worried about the costs, being from a low-income household, but I worked towards the scholarship for a year and got accepted.”
Naomi will be studying a variety of subjects during her first two years at college, with the option to specialise in a particular topic in her third year.
She added: “It’s funny because a year ago I was worried about going to London on my own and now I’m moving to the US.
“The Sutton Trust helped me build confidence and I want to show my 13-year-old brother that there’s so much he can achieve too.”
Naomi’s mother, Lisa Gauden, said: “I’m amazed at her. I’m so proud. I’m a bit scared about her moving to America but she’s worked so hard. She deserves it.
“I’ll be going out there with her to get her settled in, but I’ll be coming straight back.”
Ms Gauden added: “Since she was young, Naomi has always wanted to move to America. When the opportunity came up, there wasn’t a second thought in her mind.”
Naomi’s grandfather, Stephen Gauden, said: “It shows that anything in our valley is possible with hard work and a little bit of luck. A girl from a one-horse town, with a single parent upbringing, going to an American university.”
Naomi will be flying to New York City on August 18 to begin her American dream.
Lukman Arsalan, Trinity College’s senior associate director of international admissions and student success, said: “Naomi Gauden competed with other students in the UK to be part of the Sutton Trust programme, met with our admissions counsellors who travelled to the UK, and applied to Trinity College.
“We’re delighted that Naomi will be joining us for Fall 2019.”
Sir Peter Lampl, Founder and Chairman of the Sutton Trust and Chairman of the Education Endowment Foundation, said: “America’s leading universities are welcoming places for international students, whatever country or social background they come from.
“I’m delighted that Naomi and dozens of other British state school students have won places to study in the States. They will benefit from a broad and varied curriculum as well as in-depth study and generous funding for both tuition and living costs.
“I hope more young people will look to their success and realise that a university education in the States is well within their grasp.”