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For Stephan Perez, attending the prestigious Columbia University was more than just a dream; it was a goal he set his sights on when he was only 13 years old and a goal he willed himself to achieve.

"I enrolled into all A.P. and honors classes.  And that was my vision.  I had only one goal.  I woke up in the morning, it was Columbia.  I went to sleep at night and it was Columbia," said Perez in an interview set to air Thursday at 10pm/9c on NBC's Rock Center with Brian Williams.

The Georgia-bred teenager worked tirelessly over the next few years and even stopped playing sports in order to focus all of his attention on his academics.  His hard work finally paid off when he learned not only had he been accepted to his dream school, he received a Gates Millennium Scholarship that would pay for his tuition expenses.