NORWALK - A high school valedictorian from Norwalk says she decided to announce she is an undocumented immigrant during her graduation speech because being undocumented was part of the reason she was at the top of her class.

Laura Veira, a recent Brien McMahon High School graduate, is heading to Harvard University next fall.

Veira says she worked hard because she knew she had to in order to get into a college that would give her financial aid.

She says most colleges require proof of residency to apply for financial aid, but the Ivy League universities and select liberal arts colleges don't need that.

Veira says while she grew up ashamed of her status, she decided it should no longer be a secret.

She says she told her friends in September but wanted to go public with it at graduation.

"I was surprised by the immediate reaction because everyone was cheering," Verira says. "It made me more confident in continuing my speech knowing that I had that support."