Best friends from Compton make good on pact to succeed

COMPTON, Calif. -- They are daughters of immigrant parents.

Most of their parents didn't finish high school, so there was plenty of pride as diplomas were handed out to Nancy Rivas, Yenifer Espitia, Daina Espinoza, Kimberly Fernandez, Jannet Gomez and Elizabeth Perez Gayosso.

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Nancy Rivas, Yenifer Espitia, Daina Espinoza, Kimberly Fernandez, Jannet Gomez, and Elizabeth Perez Gayosso. CBS News

It began with a pact made in middle school: for each to succeed, they all had to. It included several AP courses and intensive study sessions.

"Because we are so connected, there's no one like competing against each other. We're all sort of helping each other," Jannet said.

The girls defied the odds, and a harsh reality: their school district ranks among the bottom ten percent in the country. And Compton is among the country's most violent cities.

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Nancy Rivas finished first in her class and spoke at graduation. CBS News

When they would meet students from other schools, this would be the reaction: "Are you okay in Compton? Like do you hear shootings every time?" Daina said.

"They make you seem like you're inferior to them," Yenifer continued. "I feel like we're able to prove all the stereotypes about us wrong," Nancy said.

Their GPAs range from 4.3 to 4.5.

"If I was to get lower than an A right now, I'd be devastated," Nancy told CBS News.

Counselor Cynthia Washington has a name for the group: "I call them the Super Six. These girls need to be acknowledged," she said

"It's historic for Dominguez, it's historic for Compton. Yeah, you might see that, say, in a more affluent community. But it's a rarity here."

All the girls have now been accepted to top universities, and will leave Compton. But Compton will never leave them.

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The "Super Six" at graduation. CBS News

"I want to come and help my community, counsel juveniles and try to get them an education and make them see that their lives are not over," Nancy said.

On campus, they relished their roles as celebrities.

"You just go around and these kids in class are like, 'Oh, you are part of the Super Six," and we're like, 'Yeah!" Daina said.

"I'm like 'Mom, I'm graduating. I'm number one!" Nancy told us.

They're lifting up not just each other, but also their troubled town.