First-Generation College Students in Austin Share Journeys to High School Graduation

Jun 20, 2016

These stories were produced in partnership with PRI's Global Nation project.

For many first-generation college students, high school graduation is seen as a major milestone for them and their families.

Many of those students in Austin say they wouldn’t have graduated or been accepted to college without the help of Breakthrough Austin. It’s a non-profit that helps first generation college students get their degree.

Many immigrant parents who did not graduate high school or college struggle to navigate the education system in the United States. 

Breakthrough meets these students in middle school, pairs the students with a counselor and help them get into good high schools in Austin and succeed academically.

They also help them understand the college application and the financial aid processes.

This week, some of those graduating students and their families share their stories. 

Lucy Saucedo

Lucy Saucedo(left) with her family. Lucy's parents immigrated to the United States from Mexico. As a child of immigrants, Lucy says she doesn't think people expect her to go to college. Her father, Marco(second from right), says when Lucy was born his entire focus became getting his children through college.
Credit Miguel Gutierrez Jr./ KUT News

High School: Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders

College: Texas Tech 

Wants to study: Computer engineering 

Odalis Cartagena

Odalis Cartagena graduated from the Liberal Arts and Science Academy and plans to attend UT Dallas to study biomedical engineering. She was raised by her mother after her father was deported back to Honduras when she was in elementary school.
Credit Miguel Gutierrez Jr./ KUT News

High School: Liberal Arts and Science Academy

College: University of Texas at Dallas

Wants to study: Biomedical engineering 

Santiago Santana

Santiago Santana graduated from Anderson High School and plans to attend St. Edward's University this fall.
Credit Miguel Gutierrez Jr./ KUT News

High School: Anderson High School

College: St. Edward's University

Wants to study: Secondary education

Pablo Villafuerte
Pablo Villafuerte and his mother. They moved to the US from Mexico when he was in second grade.
Credit Miguel Gutierrez Jr./ KUT News

High School: Liberal Arts and Science Academy

College: Texas State University

Wants to study: Construction science