High school senior supports family with 15-hour school/work days

It typically isn't good news when Mary Solis calls a student into her office at Veterans Memorial High School in Brownsville.

"Do you know why you've been called to the principal's office today?" she asked a student. "No," Monica Venegas responded.

But this is a Pay it 4Ward surprise, and the high school senior has no idea she's been nominated for the $400 prize.

"Well hello there...I'm Ryan Wolf with Action 4 News," he said after sneaking into the office from behind Monica.

Monica is one of the hardest working seniors at school, according to some.

The 17-year-old hits the books from 8:45 am to 4 pm and then immediately goes to work where she's a shift manager at a fast food restaurant.

Her hours are from 5pm to midnight.

She puts in 15 hour days, several days a week, without ever complaining, to help support her family.

But the money she earns for her mom and 3 siblings goes fast and leaves little left for her own back to school needs.

A neighbor wants to change that.

Ryan Wolf lets Monica in on the surprise.

"I want the person who nominated you to tell you how special you are," he said. "Do you know who it is?" he asked her.

"No," she said with a puzzled look on her face.

Nancy Torres is next to walk into the principal's office.

"You're an awesome girl," she told Monica while holding her hands. "You know your mom depends on you. You're a very, very strong 17-year-old. You know you come out of here and you go in to work to provide for your mom and siblings. It's very admirable because you know 17-year-old's now-a-days are out and about. Don't give up mija... Don't give up. I'd like to Pay it 4Ward because you deserve it."

Karen Gonzalez is standing by with the Pay it 4Ward prize.

"I'm Karen Gonzalez with FNB Insurance Agency," she said. "It's been incredible hearing about all of the things that you do for your family. And with it being back to school, who couldn't use a little extra hand. So on behalf of FNB Insurance and Action 4 News here is $100, $200, $300, $400."

Monica says her mother has sacrificed a lot for the family.

"She's held back things that she wanted for us," she explained. "How does that make you feel knowing that she did?" Ryan asked.

"Well, special," she said.

Monica hopes her work ethic rubs off on her brothers and sisters.

"I want them to grow up and help my mom too," she said.

The school's principal says all students can learn something from Monica's positive attitude.

"She is proof that there is power in our youth today and that they can make a difference, not only in their households but in our community by Paying it 4Ward," Mary Solis said.

All Monica says she wants to do is make her family proud.

She likely has the entire community behind her.

"Pay it 4Ward!" Monica said.

Click here to join Ryan Wolf TMs Facebook Page Click here to follow Ryan Wolf on Twitter Click here to nominate somebody for the Pay it 4Ward prize