Carolyn Johnson spent the day with one smart, determined young man who's truly an inspiration.
Nathan Galicia lives in San Carlos and attends Carlmont High School. He'll be attending UC Davis in the fall for biomedical engineering.
The top three priorities for Galicia? Music, martial arts and medical research.
Doctors diagnosed Galicia with non-Hodgkins lymphoma just before his sophomore year. Chemotherapy treatment suppressed his immune system, forcing him to be home-schooled the following semester.
Galicia said he was in shock when he was diagnosed with cancer but that he decided he wasn't going to let it hold him back.
"I just wanted to keep up everything and keep going and it actually motivated me to do a lot of these things. It was a big source of strength for me," he said.
Despite the intensity of his cancer treatments, Galicia was back on the Carlmont High School campus the second semester of his sophomore year and resumed his position as first tenor in the jazz ensemble.
"I played in our spring concert and kind of bounced back like nothing ever happened," he said.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation surprised Galicia with a brand new, handmade saxophone from France that night.
"I was so excited I had to open it up right there on stage and I made everybody wait like five minutes so I could put it together and I ended up playing with it for the rest of the concert," Galicia said.
For Galicia, music offered a therapeutic diversion from the side effects of cancer. He says training in martial arts like tai chi and qigong helped him recover.
"It's nice and slow instead of the fast like tumbling and flipping that I was used to, but I still continue a little bit today and it's really relaxing."
Galicia was voted prom king by his peers -- a testament to what his friends think of him on campus, said Raul Zamora, principal of Carlmont High School. "I think he's a role model that says, 'I can do anything.'"
Galicia is paying it forward by sharing his story and raising funds for the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
"I really want to as a career do something that can help give back -- cancer research, medical research, anything to benefit medicine," he said.
Congratulations to Nathan Galicia for his amazing accomplishments!
Join ABC7 News on Sunday, June 17 at 10 a.m. for a half-hour special on all seven of this year's top scholars.