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Jeremiah Thompson is a recent graduate of Manor New Tech High School Class of 2020, and has been part of the Breakthrough program since he was in 6th grade. This coming fall, Jeremiah will attend the McCombs School of Business at University of Texas at Austin.

To say being a high school senior in 2020 is a unique experience is a shocking understatement.  I am one of thousands of first-generation college aspirants in Central Texas navigating my high school senior year in the age of Coronavirus. This is my story.


I’m proud to be a 2020 graduate of Manor New Technology High School. This fall I will start my college journey at McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas. Believe it or not, I’ve always wanted to be an auditor. I’m a good student, but I didn’t think I would be able to get into McCombs. Thankfully, my Breakthrough advisor Joe pushed me to apply.


Together, my mom and I had always set our sights on a common goal: I will become the first person in our family to graduate college. And, Breakthrough was there to help us make it happen


My Breakthrough team and I have worked hard to zero in on my goals since sixth grade. We celebrated achievements along the way and embraced the balance of my academics and activities. I was Student Council Vice President, a member of the National Honor Society and was in drumline and choir all four years of high school. But when COVID-19 broke out, I had to learn a new balancing act.


During the transition,  Breakthrough’s virutal programming offered a window into my worries. As a high school senior, there are so many checklists to mark. From SAT and ACT tests to FAFSA and individual school applications, senior year can seem like an academic laundry list. As a “first-generation college student,” sifting through the information can be tricky at best.


My Breakthrough advisors, Dorothy and Joe, helped me and my mom break down the costs for my top three schools. This helped us see what was possible and make a smart decision when finances on the national level seemed rocky.


Planning for college is a big deal, especially when no one around you has ever done it before. I work at H-E-B to help save and I really like it. I work with a lot of other students from Manor and Austin, and even UT. Because grocery stores were declared “essential businesses” during the pandemic, I picked up extra shifts and started working more as my classes all transitioned online. I still completed my high school classes and a few ACC courses to help reduce some costs for the fall. Getting a new routine down was a little tricky, but over time and with Joe’s help, I established a new routine.


Without Breakthrough, this time would have been much different for me. Ultimately, I’m not sure where I would be going to school or how I would be planning to afford it without those senior decision meetings. Now, I can look forward to a time when social distancing restrictions aren’t so strict and I can meet more people and start life as a college student: A Breakthrough Central Texas student at a Top 20 Business School in the U.S.


Although we won’t have a “normal” graduation, we are the Class of 2020 – we will be remembered by this and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Our resilience shines and is just an indication of what our future holds. We still have lots to look forward to.