Throughout her childhood, every time she sat down to do homework, MaHogany Matthews dreamed of what it might be like to study at Harvard University.
"Every elementary school student has a dream," said Matthews, a junior at Heritage High School in Lynchburg. "Some kids want to be a doctor. Some want to be a nurse. Harvard was my dream."
As she got older, adults pushed her to think of other schools. They told her Harvard might be out of reach, until she met a Lynchburg teacher named Brandon Fleming.
"I encourage my students to shoot for the best," said Fleming, a social studies teacher at E.C. Glass High School. "I encourage them not to compromise and not to settle."
Outside of work Fleming runs a program called "S.Y. Scholars," which gives accelerated students tutoring and mentoring on the weekends.
When Matthews joined last year, she was earning "B's" and "C's."
"I wasn't struggling," Matthews said. "A lot of my teachers would say I had a lot of potential."
Fleming and S.Y. scholars helped her unlock the potential.
"She would share with me that she wanted to attend Harvard University," said Fleming. "I said okay if you want to go to Harvard, you have to become a Harvard student before you get there."
By working hard at night and on weekends, Matthews became a straight "A" student.
Her efforts caught the attention of Harvard University's prestigious "secondary school program. This summer she'll take two college classes.
When she graduates from Heritage next year, she won't be automatically accepted to Harvard as a full-time student, but she's hoping that part of her dream will come true.
"I want to be a lawyer," explained Matthews. "I want to do criminal law or family law, so Harvard and their law school will really help me."
It will cost Matthews $11,000 to attend the Harvard program this summer. Her parents are trying to raise money to pay her tuition.
Donations to Matthews can be made at any Suntrust Bank in Virginia. Checks should be made payable to MaHogany Matthews Harvard Account #3547.