“I joined different organizations like NAACP and Men of Honor that were focused on improving the perception of African-American people and also African-American males on campus. I wanted to be a voice and a leader on my college campus for marginalized communities like ourselves and promote change. To take it a step further, I helped revitalize the prestigious Epsilon Sigma Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated. It took me being in multiple uncomfortable situations to grow and succeed. After all my efforts, I am a proud graduate of the University of Texas at San Antonio.”
My name is Jabrell Scott, and I am proud to say that I am a Breakthrough first-generation college graduate. I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in Communication with a minor in Public Administration from the University of Texas San Antonio in December of 2019. I am going to keep this short and simple: “WE DID IT.” I want to send my deepest congratulations to all of the college graduates! These graduating classes are built differently! We did it through an entire pandemic! Also, I want to send a huge thank you to the parents/families who have supported us through this journey.
I have been involved with Breakthrough for more than 10 years and there are many memories that come to mind: From waking up at 6:30am to catch Bus 18 for it to take me to UT, to the Saturday sessions at St. Stephens, to even those endless afternoon tutoring sessions, each memory plays a significant role in who I am today. I had learned that I am not a morning person, but also I wanted to challenge myself and grow and develop as a student. I was put into situations where I was able to self-reflect and develop new ways to approach different situations. While we can all agree that some of those summers were a bit frustrating, we can all say that they were very rewarding.
While describing my road to graduating from college, it’s honestly hard to describe it and that’s one thing that I’ve learned about life in general. Some moments you may just never understand why it happens or why it happened to you, but it just is what it is.
One of my most intense memories during my Breakthrough experience was the college application process. The summer of 2014, which was the summer before my senior year of high school, was an eye opening experience. I had many things to juggle, and I realized I only had approximately 10 months to figure out my next move. I was so anxious on how to produce the best college application and describe the type of student I am and why that specific university should have me: a young African-American male from LBJ High School, on their campus. In my mind wIth applying to the schools that were in my top ten list, I thought that I was green and in the clear and would have my acceptance letters within a month after the deadline and not worry about it for the rest of the year.
However, that wasn’t the case. I was accepted into my dream school, the University of Kansas, but reality kicked in once I took a gaze at the out-of-state expenses and it wasn’t pretty. So onto plan B, but I didn’t have a clue what that was, because I received a no to my second dream school. I wondered what I was doing wrong and why I was getting those results. I would be the world’s biggest liar if I didn’t feel a bit discouraged because all of the time and work being put into perfecting these applications. I received other acceptance letters but struggled to decide what the perfect match would be. It wasn’t until I took my first visit to the University of Texas at San Antonio where I fell in love with the campus and was sold immediately. It checked off all of the criteria in regards to tuition, size of campus, diversity, campus resources, and the distance from home.
After making it through my first year at UTSA, I had the most amazing summer ever working as a Breakthrough AmeriCorps Summer Teaching Fellow. During that summer, I served as an AmeriCorps Member and spent my summer as a Breakthrough teaching fellow at St. Andrew’s. To be honest, every day at work I would ask myself why I signed up for this. I had been reluctant to apply for this position when my Breakthrough Advisor, Daniel, would bring it up during our meetings when he visited me at UTSA. He would always try to convince me to apply for this experience. I eventually gave in, and I cannot thank him enough. I felt that I found myself through daily self-reflection that summer; I was able to interact with so many different people and I gained a different perspective on how to approach college and life in general.
From that summer, I felt that I had gained a different level of finesse and swagger, and I carried that momentum to year two of college. And from there, I was destined to take initiative in my learning and actually make an impact on my community! I started to excel in my courses and stuck with a major after changing it three times and everything began to click.
I joined different organizations like NAACP and Men of Honor that were focused on improving the perception of African-American people and also African-American males on campus. I wanted to be a voice and a leader on my college campus for marginalized communities like ourselves and promote change. To take it a step further, I helped revitalize the prestigious Epsilon Sigma Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated. It took me being in multiple uncomfortable situations to grow and succeed. After all my efforts, I am a proud graduate of the University of Texas at San Antonio.
Just looking back at my journey, the advice that I can give to you all is to apply the same level of energy and pressure to everything you want to do and create your own legacy. We have already taken that first step and accomplished something that seemed so far away. Now I know that it will take some time to get adjusted to the “new normal,” but continue to develop healthy habits to push you towards your future goal.
We have overcome generational barriers and have accomplished a huge milestone that will be something that no one can take from you!