I was aware of just how tough my neighborhood was. As much as people cared for each other there were real challenges with violence and drugs. Certainly, education was not the primary focus of life. My mom, though, always supported and pushed me and I saw the struggles she faced, working long hours with a 10th grade education to provide for her family. One day I brought home a flyer about a program that promised to help me for up to 12 years until I graduate college. Guess who was the biggest Breakthrough fan in the world in 2008? Yep, my mom!
Hello everyone. My name is Shelly Rhymes. I am the proud mother of a Breakthrough college graduate. It is a pleasure to be here withyou all. How did I become one of Breakthrough’s biggest fans? That’s simple: It changed my daughter’s life and it changed my...
It was during my sixth grade year that two Breakthrough staff members, Ana and Brian, came to my school during Social Studies class. They explained how Breakthrough would help me for 12 years until I graduated from college. That got my attention.
Hello everyone my name is Mercedes Moore and I am a rising 6th grader. I live with my Aunt Joyce, and next year I will attend Del Valle Middle School. My goals in middle school are to join more extracurricular activities like dance and cheer, and to continue to make...
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?
I remember my teacher telling me about an information session for this thing called Breakthrough. And since there was going to be food and all of my friends were going, I went. I had no idea that day would change my life. It was the first time anyone had ever talked...
When I was young, all I ever wanted to do was play sports. I started when I was 3 playing baseball. By the time I was 6 years old, I also played basketball and football. I wanted to be a sports star and a professional athlete. Even when I started middle school, I still only thought about going to the NFL and making lots of money for me and for my mom. The thing about my mom is, she always told me that I would go to college one day but, at the time, I didn’t want to think about it.
My parents come from very humble beginnings. They did not speak English when they came to this country, but they learned it. They did not have citizenship, but they obtained it. They did not go to college, but they found Breakthrough and now their children will. My parents have always pushed me to do my best. Although I didn’t always appreciate how they constantly nagged me about my grades, “Haz la tarea, Daniel!” I’m grateful for it now!
My story begins when I was only 3 years old. My mom moved my sister and me away from an unsupportive family in Massachusetts to live in Austin. We had no contacts, no money, and no place to live. My mom was so strong! After moving between shelters and housing projects, she built a house for us in East Austin with the help of Habitat for Humanity. Our home was christened with songs, cheers and love by future neighbors and new friends.
I first moved to Austin from Mexico with my parents and my younger sister when I was in first grade. The four of us and eventually my brother too, shared one room of my aunt’s house for three years, until we could finally afford our own place nearby. Up until that point, I’d always been a really lively, outgoing child, but the adjustment to school in Austin was much more difficult than I expected. I had always been a good student, eager to learn, but my English was choppy at first and because of the differences in school systems, I repeated a grade.
Ten years ago, I didn’t even believe I’d make it to college, much less be up here receiving this award. It was really rough growing up, just trying to make ends meet. I am the youngest of four sisters, so I relied a lot on my sisters. Both of my parents were unstable and my sisters basically raised me, even though they were teenagers themselves and single parents.
My family lived pay check to pay check and I observed my mother’s struggle. We never had the opportunity to enjoy the luxuries in life but she made sure always had food on the table. I also saw that not everyone’s life was like that. There were others – in my school and in the world around me – that didn’t have to struggle day to day. I made up my mind at the age of 11 that I would do whatever it takes to make a better life for me and for my mom.