Author Archive

Graduate Spotlight: Something Bigger Than Herself

By Jeff Sanchez | OCTOBER 26, 2022 “I did this for my daughters. I started this journey to take care of them.” When Dr. Debra Utpadel was asked what she was most proud of, she did not hesitate to mention her daughters, “The best thing to come out of all this is that I have […]

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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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Partner Spotlight: Topfer Family Foundation

By Jeff Sanchez | AUGUST 5, 2022 When the Topfer family set out to start a foundation, they had two goals in mind—to help their neighbors and leave a legacy of giving for their family. “The family has a heart for people, and they genuinely care about the health and well-being of Austin,” said Melanie […]

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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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Support Spotlight: Career Placement

By Jeff Sanchez | OCTOBER 4, 2021 Support Spotlight Series In this final installment of the Support Spotlight Series, we feature the career placement services at Capital IDEA. Many of the adults who come through Capital IDEA have, at one point or another, had their doubts about getting a college education. It can feel risky […]

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Support Spotlight: Career Navigators

By Jeff Sanchez | SEPTEMBER 27, 2021 Support Spotlight Series For the second installment in our Support Spotlight Series, we are highlighting our Career Navigators. It is one of the most important and unique forms of support that a student receives in the Career Expressway program. Keep reading to learn more about the role the […]

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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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Top 5 Advanced Manufacturing Companies

By Jeff Sanchez | JUNE 10, 2021 Is getting a degree in Advanced Manufacturing (AM) worth the next two years of your life? The short answer is YES! Capital IDEA has done the research. Every degree program we sponsor has to meet several criteria before we can add them to the Career Expressway and offer […]

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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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Partner Spotlight: Our Nurses Aren’t Just Tired — They’re Exhausted

By Jeff Sanchez | FEBRUARY 3, 2021 “There’s a real problem here. Why aren’t we solving it?” When she agreed to take on the project, research fellow Sherry Sybesma had no idea there was a problem at all. But after a year spent digging into the complex issues surrounding our region’s nursing shortage, she couldn’t […]

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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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