MEXICO CITY - Mexico has found a new heroine: A 12-year-old math whiz from a state plagued by drug violence who was dubbed "The Next Steve Jobs" by a US magazine.
The youngest of eight children from a modest family, Paloma Noyola was thrown under the media spotlight since Wired magazine featured the black-haired girl on its cover two weeks ago.
She has appeared in national newspapers and on cable news, redubbed "La Nina Jobs" - "The Jobs Girl" - with photographers and cameramen chasing the girl nicknamed after Apple's late founder.
This week, she travelled from her hometown of Matamoros, in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas, to the hustle and bustle of Mexico City for a mental math competition.
"I'm very happy. If you want it, you can do it," said Noyola.
With so much attention on the girl, Tamaulipas state officials who flew in with her shielded Noyola from the press pack.
She sat alone at a large table and was whisked away after the contest organised by the Tecnologico de Monterrey university ended. But she did not win the contest.
Last year, the girl whose school lies next to a dump across the US border wowed the country when she scored the maximum 921 in the national standardized exam, the best in Mexico.
Her father died of lung cancer last year and her family earns an income from selling scrap metal and food in Matamoros, a city tormented for years by a turf war between the Zetas and Gulf drug cartels.