Ernesto Gaxha defines artistic and academic excellence. At Ruben Cirillo High School in Walworth, he is literally at the top of his class with a perfect GPA and a 2,400 on his SAT's.
A growing portfolio of award winning drawings, paintings and photographs.
"I do work really really hard to do all this. It's not something i was born with. There's a lot of devotion. I'm very passionate about this, i think that's clear," said Ernesto.
His story is rich in other ways. When Ernesto was 5 years old, his family moved to the U.S. from their native Albania. He, his sister and their parents started over, studied English, and saved enough money to create a new life for themselves. It informs some of his favorite pieces of artwork.
"I can point out a few. I mean, I definitely like that one," said Ernesto. "It's not a painting, but it's my dad, and it really hits home for me."
"A lot of my drive is to make my parents proud of me, because the main reason they came to the us was for the education and opportunities that are available here," said Ernesto. "If I were still in Albania, I know this for a fact, I would not be as successful as I am here, and so I want to make the most of the opportunity that they gave me and not let them down."
"A lot of what makes him such a good artist is that he has this intelligence and that his work so thoughful and the dedication that he puts into everything," said art teacher Christine DeTurck.
Ernesto's academic credentials helped get him into Harvard. An outstanding achievement in its own right, but he says his portfolio of artwork also paved the way.
"I sent them a portfolio of my art and they actually sent me ahandwirten note that they liked it and that was pretty nice of them," said Ernesto.