Our Stories

Graduate Spotlight: From Aspiring To Accomplished

This is a transcript of the speech given by Alicia at the 2022 Whitlow Ice Cream Social Event | SEPTEMBER 14, 2022 Good afternoon, everyone. My name is Alicia Rodriguez. A few years ago, I was one of the featured families in the Austin American Statesman’s Season for Caring campaign. At the time, they called […]

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Graduate Spotlight: Finding Her Way Back

By Jeff Sanchez | AUGUST 29, 2022 When Rebecca Meneses’ life got off track, her road back was anything but easy. “Being a single mom without any formal education was so challenging.” She was lost and needed to find her way back, if not for herself, to provide for her son and the big family […]

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Graduate Spotlight: Choices Big And Small

Pictured Top left: Michael with daughters, Andrea and Sofia and grandson Dakota Lee; top right: Michael with son Kevin; bottom left: Michael accepting check on behalf of Dream Come True Foundation; bottom right: Michael at work By Jeff Sanchez | JULY 8, 2022 Michael Rayos has made many choices in his life, both big and […]

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Graduate Spotlight: I Never Thought I Could Learn

By Jeff Sanchez | JUNE 1, 2022 You never know what you’re capable of until your back is against the wall. That’s what it took for Stephanie Berman to realize her full potential. In her thirties, Stephanie fled an abusive marriage with her life and her three children. Thrust into the role of sole provider, […]

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Graduate Spotlight: The Resilience To Keep Going

Pictured left: Estrella Saldana; top right: Estrella and her parents; bottom right: Estrella and her Career Navigator, Tonia Gooden By Jeff Sanchez | MAY 19, 2022 One of Estrella Saldana’s earliest memories is of bringing in groceries from the car. Her mom would place one small item in a grocery bag and let her drag […]

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Graduate Spotlight: My Destiny Was Forever Changed

APRIL 8, 2022 Below is a transcript of Gabrielle’s Aurora Alworth Award acceptance speech at the 2022 Celebration of Achievements held virtually on March 1, 2022. Watch the slide presentation and listen to her speech here: YouTube Event Recording » Good afternoon, friends: My name is Gabrielle Michelle Shepherd, and I am a Registered Nurse […]

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Graduate Spotlight: There’s Always a Way

Hammurabi (left) sits down with Capital IDEA alum Heriberto Gonzales (right). By Jeff Sanchez | MARCH 15, 2022 Hammurabi Bueno doesn’t like sitting still. Landing a desk job was never a dream of his. “I’m a person that likes to be hands-on and build things.” Of the many careers sponsored by Capital IDEA, power technology […]

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Graduate Spotlight: She’s Here To Help

“Capital IDEA makes individuals stronger so that they can do the work that makes our community stronger.” – Stephanie Mbulu By Jeff Sanchez | DECEMBER 7, 2021 From early on, Stephanie Mbulu had the heart to help others. “My mother would joke that I came out of the womb wanting to help people,” but it wasn’t until […]

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Graduate Spotlight: The Strength To Start Over

By Jeff Sanchez | NOVEMBER 3, 2021 It takes incredible strength to start over and build a new life. Khaibar Rahimy and his family emigrated from Afghanistan about four and a half years ago. In Afghanistan, he was a degreed professional, a civil engineer. His skills allowed him to work with the United States Army […]

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Graduate Spotlight: I Was Supported The Whole Way

By Jeff Sanchez | JULY 1, 2021 College isn’t for everybody, right? Some people should go, but others just aren’t cut out for it. That’s the conclusion Skyler Coffman arrived at when his first attempt at college didn’t pan out. But Skyler is now a college graduate with a great job. As a Senior Ops […]

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Graduate Spotlight: Be Your Own Hero

MAY 27, 2021 Alumnus, Jason Lopez, shared the following remarks with Capital IDEA’s long-time supporter, the Sooch Foundation, during a virtual site visit on April 28, 2021. Jason was also featured in an episode of KLRU Austin PBS’s docu-series American Graduate: Getting To Work that aired in November 2019. Click here to watch »  Hello, […]

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Graduate Spotlight: His Next Big Goal

By Jeff Sanchez | APRIL 8, 2021 Alpha Diallo’s life has been shaped by goals. Some he set for himself and others his parents set for the family. When he was 13, Alpha’s parents emigrated with him and his siblings from Guinea West Africa to France. Their primary goal was to escape dangerous circumstances and […]

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Graduate Spotlight: One Family, Three Degrees and Counting

By Jeff Sanchez | DECEMBER 9, 2020 When Juana Patino decided to go to college, she had no idea the kind of ripple effect it would have on her family. As of this post, three of the Patino siblings, Juana, Araceli, and Maria Laura, have all graduated from college with degrees in healthcare and IT. […]

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Graduate Spotlight: I Was Called To This

By Jeff Sanchez | NOVEMBER 12, 2020 Vision. Perseverance. Support. For Shirlet Oriakhi, these were the things that helped her achieve great things in her life. Inspired by her mother who had a gift for passing on wisdom and knowledge, Shirlet, from an early age, cultivated a vision for herself that included helping others through […]

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Graduate Spotlight: From Struggling Student To Professor

By Jeff Sanchez | OCTOBER 29, 2020 “The only limits are the ones I create in my mind.” Teresa Garza proclaims these words as she remembers the long journey that brought her to where she is today. From academic probation to a college professor, she never imagined her career would lead her to academics. “I […]

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Graduate Spotlight: Nursing Shoes Are A Big Deal

By Jeff Sanchez | OCTOBER 14, 2020 The start of the 2020-21 school year is unlike anything we could have imagined. The classroom has been replaced by a computer screen, and schools are faced with new challenges as they try to create the best learning environment for their students. For teachers like Lori Lucas, adapting […]

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Graduate Spotlight: She Just Needed An Opportunity

By Jeff Sanchez | JUNE 22, 2020 Tania Santiago-Kelly will do whatever it takes, going to extraordinary lengths to reach her goals and provide for her family. Over 14 years ago, Tania was living in Mexico with her son. In order to make ends meet, she worked three jobs. One of which paid her five […]

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Graduate Spotlight: This Is My Opportunity To Step Up

By Jeff Sanchez | APRIL 29, 2020 “If I have the skills, what am I doing sitting back?” There is a sense of purpose and conviction in Irene’s voice as she expresses that sentiment from her hotel room in New Jersey. Irene Reyna, Capital IDEA alumnae, just spent the day settling into what will be […]

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Graduate Spotlight: If You Want to Be a Nurse — This Is the Time!

By Jeff Sanchez | APRIL 3, 2020 While many of us are sheltering-in-place at home, Ytzayana Macias puts on her scrubs and goes to work. She is a Medical Surgical Nurse at St. David’s South Austin Medical Center. “Feels a bit eerie. There are no visitors allowed in the hospital. We have been very intensely […]

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Graduate Spotlight: Alondra Rodriguez, Aurora Alworth Spirit Award

MARCH 13, 2020 This year’s Aurora Alworth Spirit award was given to Alondra Rodriguez. Although Alondra couldn’t be there in person to accept the award on March 5, 2020, she prepared and shared her story ahead of our event. About the Aurora Alworth Award:    skip to Alondra’s story The Aurora Alworth Spirit Award was […]

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OFFICE CLOSED SEPT 5 | Our offices will be closed Monday, September 5th, for Labor Day.