Luis Fernandez has big dreams, and the John Tyler High School senior is on his way to achieving them.

As he walks the stage on Saturday, Fernandez will graduate in the top 10% of his class and become a first-generation high school graduate.

"Never listen to those people who tell you something cannot be done," said Fernandez.

Though he has lived in Tyler his entire life, Spanish is Luis' native language. His mom and teachers encouraged him to learn English in middle school.

"They gave me that push, they motivated me," he said.

Fernandez aspires to become a neurosurgeon and became one step closer Thursday as he was was pinned a Certified Nurse's Aide.

He passed the certification test after completing the CNA program at Tyler ISD's Career and Technology Center.

"I feel compassion for those who are sick," he said.

When Luis was a freshman, his dad had spinal surgery.

"He was unable to work for about six months and someone had to pay the bills and I helped support the family," Luis said.

He sacrificed sports and sleep to work part-time jobs over the next four years. However, Luis remained focused on school.

"I think it paid off," he said.

Not only will he find proof of that in a diploma, Luis will start work on his nursing degree at Tyler Junior College this fall, without paying a penny.

"No money is going to come out of my pocket is one of the best things," he said.

Luis plans to earn an associate's in nursing from TJC before getting his bachelor's at UT Tyler. Ultimately, he hopes to attend medical school in Dallas.

"Life has given me everything, and I think I should use those resources to my advantage and get everything I can," he said.

Luis said much of his success comes from God, family and the Tyler ISD teachers who helped mold him.