My name is Jordan Olea and I am a 7th grader at Paredes Middle School.  Like all students in Breakthrough, I will be the first generation in my family to graduate from college. I remember years ago when my older sister Maria brought home a brochure about this program that would help her go to college. She wasn’t sure she wanted to join because she didn’t want to give up her summer vacations.  Who does? My parents pushed her to apply, knowing it was best for her future.  And after her first summer at UT, she was hooked.  Maria would come home doing cheers about bananas and she taught me songs like the “Princess Pat.”

I knew I wanted to be part of it all. My parents graduated from high school but didn’t go to college. My mom works in my school cafeteria and my dad is a painter – a fancy one who does “faux finishes” on walls. It seems like every day they tell me and my sister they want us to go to college so we can have a better life.

Last year was my first summer at Breakthrough.  I was nervous about not knowing anyone, but I was lucky. My older sister was accepted as a Breakthrough summer teacher.  It was a little weird having my sister there!  But it was also great.  Each morning we took the bus across town from William Cannon to UT.  In the afternoons I kept busy when she had to stay late to plan for her classes. It made for long days but we also had a lot of fun. I learned a lot and made friends from all over Austin.  The program gave me a huge advantage by preparing me for everything I would learn this year in 7th grade. If I weren’t at Breakthrough I would probably just be at home playing video games or experimenting with food in the kitchen, like my favorite, mixing doritos and ketchup.

I get to see my Breakthrough friends throughout the school year at Saturday events too. Last fall we worked with high school mentors from St. Stephen’s who helped us put on a Career Fair. We got to interview amazing professionals with all sorts of different careers. I want to be a veterinarian or computer engineer.

Breakthrough has helped me and my family SO much.  Next month, my sister Maria will graduate from Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders and she will begin her college career at Tarleton State University.   She wants to be a pediatric nurse.  I am excited to follow in her footsteps and for my baby sister Sophia to join when she is old enough.

Before Breakthrough, my grades weren’t as good and I didn’t really want to go to college.  I was very shy, and look at me now, speaking to all of you. Breakthrough has given me the confidence to know I will go to college, achieve my goals and help my family.  My mom and dad and sisters are all here today [acknowledge family].  We are thankful every day that we have Breakthrough as our guide and our second family. I have BIG DREAMS and I know that they will help me get there.