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On May 28, more than 100 members of the Breakthrough community gathered at Headliners Club in downtown Austin to celebrate a group of 2016 Breakthrough graduates whose college dreams have been realized.

“The degree you earned is just the symbol that lets the world know you have Joseline Monroy Breakthrough Central Texas Studentmade it this far and have some great skills to bring to a job. It matters. But what matters even more is the lesson you take from the journey you just completed to the next journey of the rest of your life,” said Michael Griffith, Breakthrough’s Executive Director, as he addressed a room full of new engineers, fashion designers, entrepreneurs and teachers – Breakthrough graduates who have broke down every barrier to achieve their college dreams and are now launching their own careers.

Each graduate present has a hero’s story, like Jocelyn Monroy. Jocelyn is the first in her family to graduate from college, but it wasn’t easy. Her parents moved to Austin with an 8th grade education and a dream for a better life for their children. Working 7 days a week, up to 16 hours a day, they were not able to be as active in Jocelyn’s academic life as she would have liked. But their commitment to her education was evident, as they would often tell her, “We’re not rich and we don’t have much money. That’s why we work so hard. So that you can focus on school and your education can be your inheritance.”

It was not until Jocelyn joined Breakthrough that she fully understood the power that education had to change her life. “Breakthrough made me believe I could become a college graduate. I am proud to graduate from UT Austin and pass on a new legacy to my own daughter. I am the first in my family to graduate college. I won’t be the last.”