“Students – the entire Breakthrough family is so absolutely proud of you. Your success matters. You matter. You are what this whole thing is about. You are that dream come true. Congratulations!” said Daniel Jackson, Director of College Completion as he raised his glass at the 5th Annual Graduates Banquet.

Last Saturday, more than 200 members of the Breakthrough community gathered at Headliner’s Club in downtown Austin to commemorate the graduation of 36 additional Breakthrough students who are the first in their families to earn a college degree. The Breakthrough Graduates Banquet, held annually, is an intimate gathering for our most recent college graduates and their families. This life-changing achievement of becoming a first-generation college graduate marks the realization of a 12-year journey and commitment each of these students made in 6th grade. 

Special thanks to 2019 graduates DeAndralyn Dorsey (Stephen F. Austin University) and Joe Anthony Cruz (Ithaca College), who served as our wonderful masters of ceremony for the evening. They welcomed a number of special guest speakers including graduates and parents from the class of 2019.

Breakthrough staff, past and present, asked each graduate to stand to be recognized by sharing special memories and words of recognition. Additionally, the floor opened for graduates and family members to have the opportunity to share memories from their 12-year Breakthrough experience.

“I remember being in middle school, brand new to the Breakthrough program, and hearing about these older students who were onthe path to receiving their degrees. Everyone celebrated them grandly. I could only imagine the day that I too would be celebrated. In my vivid imagination, I had this vision of being picked up in my own personal limo and getting dropped off at the venue in style.  Now that I am actually here, I realize something.  Being a college graduate is SO MUCH more rewarding than being dropped off in a limo!” said Erika Carbajal Ramos, Our Lady of the Lake University Graduate.

Erika is one of nearly 150 Breakthrough students who have now walked the stage to earn a college degree, and 2,000 more are following in their footsteps.