Oak Creek One high school senior wasted no time in making a decision to pursue her interests halfway around the world.
Sierra Montoya, 17, said she intends to complete her remaining requirements for an early graduation from Soroco High School in time to leave for Spain Thursday.
She will take a semester of college classes in Salamanca and Granada, Spain, through the Center for Academic Programs Abroad.
Colorado Mountain College's Alpine Campus works with CAPA to send traditional and nontraditional students overseas every year, said Bob Baker, CMC professor of philosophy and history.
Montoya's mother, Pam, learned about the trip the night before the November deadline to enroll in the semester abroad.
Sierra Montoya, who plans to pursue a career in linguistics, had no trouble giving her answer.
"My parents brought it up and I just knew right away what I wanted to do," she said.
The next 24 hours were a blur, she said, as they tried to make arrangements in time and cover the expense of the $5,500 trip.
Dinty Moore's Pizza in Oak Creek will host a fund-raiser at 6 p.m. Tuesday to help the senior with the cost of her trip.
Pam Montoya said she would prepare a Mexican dinner for guests who wish to donate to her daughter's trip.
"We're pretty proud of her," she said. "We just wanted to help her out."
It made sense to feature Mexican food at a fund-raiser geared toward a three-month experience in Spain, she said.
The Montoya family is currently trying to pay back the loan they took out on the trip.
Thirteen college-age and older adults from Steamboat Springs, Leadville and Glenwood Springs will accompany Baker to Spain.
The students will study three hours of Spanish five days a week at the Don Quixote Institute and take several college courses in American history, philosophy, ethics and Western civilization that Baker will teach.
Their background in Spanish varies from a basic to an extensive understanding of the language, he said. Families host the students during their stay in Spain.
The group will return in mid-April, so Montoya can still graduate with the Soroco senior class in May. Leaving behind all that is familiar and going to a new place scares and excites her, Montoya said.
"I'm going to miss my classmates," she said.
But the experience promises her the opportunity to study another language in another country an opportunity she didn't want to pass her by, she said.
Montoya said she would like to see more high school students appreciate languages that are not their own.