Reliably Austin
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

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

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

Credit Miguel Gutierrez Jr./ KUT News
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.

High School: Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders

College: Texas Tech 

Wants to study: Computer engineering 

Lucy's father, Marco Saucedo, describes working long hours, raising his family and the importance of earning a degree.

Odalis Cartagena

Credit Miguel Gutierrez Jr./ KUT News
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.

Odalis Cartagena talks about her father's deportation and how it affected her path to a high school diploma.

High School: Liberal Arts and Science Academy

College: University of Texas at Dallas

Wants to study: Biomedical engineering 

Santiago Santana

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

Santiago Santana talks about the sacrifices his parents made so he could get an education.

High School: Anderson High School

College: St. Edward's University

Wants to study: Secondary education

Pablo Villafuerte

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

Pablo Villafuerte talks about coming to the US from Mexico when he was in second grade.

High School: Liberal Arts and Science Academy

College: Texas State University

Wants to study: Construction science 

Related Content