“In 7th grade, I and others took the monumental decision to sign a 12-year contract with an unknown non-profit that started in a small shack. I have never been so sure of that decision to sign that required contract so long ago.”

Q & A

How does it feel to have become a first-generation college graduate?

In short, it is nice to be part of such a prestigious club! I think for many of us, the feeling comes and goes. Graduating, to me, didn’t feel like the culmination of the many years I had worked towards this moment. I didn’t realize all the nights and days I had spent working towards the guarantee I would graduate nor the feeling of eventually fulfilling a childhood dream of my own and intentionally realizing something I held so dearly. I pay homage to all the parents who continue to be role models for a tireless work ethic role. A work ethic that undoubtedly gave first-generation students the foundation for all of us to succeed. Graduating, to me, was more akin to a special moment in time – a rush of adrenaline – and the subsequent feeling of wanting to achieve it again! For a moment in time, you experience three emotions, sometimes all at once. Sentimental, as we walk through the campus for the last time as an undergraduate. Speechless, as you look around and head to the seat reserved with your name. Triumphant, as you take a step forward across the stage in a public evolution that signifies the end of an era and the beginning of a new one! How does it feel to be a first-generation college graduate? It feels like coming in first, in a race you were never supposed to win!

 

What are your future plans – after graduation and longer term career goals?

After graduating from St. Mary’s University with a B.A. in Political Science, I accepted a full-time offer with Accenture as a Business Management Consultant. However, since 7th grade, I’ve wanted to have the opportunity to argue before the Supreme Court of The United States. This is why I have the long-term career goal of attending Law School in the northeast or UT Law School. In the hope of concentrating my focus on Constitutional Law! In the meantime, I will use all my skills, knowledge, and motivation to help other Breakthrough Students that go through the Skills to Succeed program at Accenture. In college, my fascination to the political process and government itself grew. I graduated from the Texas Legislative Program, where I worked with State Representative Justin Rodriguez for District 125 (now Commissioner Rodriguez for D2). I continued working for his office in the same district my university was a part of. Gabrien Gregory and I were President and Vice President respectively of the St. Mary’s College Democrats, who were vital in some of the improvements current students enjoy today. I enjoyed the growth that I experienced in college; it gave me a glimpse into our state government which I fell in love with fixing.

Tell us about the impact your Breakthrough experience has had on your life? What impact has it had on your family?

Breakthrough has impacted my life by giving me one of the strongest bonds one can ask for; the bond of shared experiences. If the person next to you understands the amount of work you had to overcome to get to where you are, they immediately know; your work ethic, commitment, and passion for achieving a long-term goal. If nothing at all, we share the same lived experiences, which is hard to come by. Having the guarantee of saying, “remember when,” and both simultaneously knowing what both of you are talking about is hard to develop. Breakthrough gave me long-lasting relationships and the financial and emotional support to get to and through college, all to create a robust network of talented students who know it is not a privilege but a duty to continue paying it forward to other students who go through it today. Joseph Ramirez, my childhood friend, and I have been the epitome of the dynamic duo! We have been friends even before Breakthrough (since elementary school); we went to the same high school, worked on setting up a scholarship that allowed students to receive financial aid, and promoted the importance of voting as a civic duty. Recently, we both studied, interviewed, and were placed in the same Accenture Austin office, and now we are both working on doing the same for other Breakthrough students. So, it comes as no surprise that we also shared the sad fate of losing our houses and our entire southeast Onion Creek neighborhood to the 2013 Onion Creek Halloween flood. For most of our Junior year and Senior year, our families spent time rebuilding our homes only to suffer the same fate 2 years later in 2015. We both have overcome many things, but in any job, project, or mission we participate in, I can wholeheartedly tell you that I can always count on Joseph to showcase our strengths and complement our weaknesses!

In addition to your Breakthrough advisors, there is a whole community of Breakthrough fans, friends, and supporters who have been rooting for you. Is there anything you would like to share?

In 7th grade, I and others took the monumental decision to sign a 12-year “contract” with an unfamiliar non-profit that started in a small house on the east side. I have never been so sure of that decision to sign that required contract so long ago. My summer teachers: Elliot, Umair, Bridget, Savannah, Zöe [the summer teacher who taught me my writing style], and others who I am forgetting have been role models that harnessed my ability to do great things and to always do them for the benefit of others. With the help of others, they have always taught me to never make a change one person at a time but spark an idea capable of motivating an entire community! My Breakthrough Advisors: Maya Rivarola, Andrea Guengerich, Constance Alexandra, Charlie Gagen, Jonathan Esteban, Dorothy Vasquez, Ivanna Crippa-Angeleri – who all repeated and inculcated me with the same powerful statement. “You are already underestimated, and that is the best advantage in any situation because you have the ability to easily persevere THEIR idea of who you represent. If you are able to change that perception, you are able to change the pathways for so many that come after you!” In essence, be the change you want to be!