Graduate Spotlights

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 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 the second grade, when […]

View More

Graduate Spotlight: The Strength To Start Over

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 Corps of Engineers, and […]

View More

Graduate Spotlight: I Was Supported The Whole Way

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 Technical Support Specialist at […]

View More

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, […]

View More

Graduate Spotlight: His Next Big Goal

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 reach safety, but their […]

View More

Graduate Spotlight: One Family, Three Degrees and Counting

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. A fourth sister, Maria […]

View More

Graduate Spotlight: I Was Called To This

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 nursing or teaching. When […]

View More

Graduate Spotlight: From Struggling Student To Professor

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 didn’t plan to be […]

View More

Graduate Spotlight: Nursing Shoes Are A Big Deal

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 to a new mode […]

View More

Graduate Spotlight: She Just Needed An Opportunity

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 dollars per day, with […]

View More

Graduate Spotlight: This Is My Opportunity To Step Up

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 her new home for […]

View More

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

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 trained in personal protective […]

View More

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 […]

View More

Graduate Spotlight: Aida Nacro, Mark Melliar-Smith Leadership Award

MARCH 11, 2020 This spotlight is a transcript of the acceptance speech given by Aida Nacro at the Capital IDEA Celebration of Achievements luncheon on March 5, 2020. Aida received the Mark Melliar-Smith Leadership Award, presented by Alyssia Palacio-Woods. AWARD PRESENTATION   skip to Aida’s speech Hello, My name is Alyssia Palacio-Woods. I am President & […]

View More

Graduate Spotlight: Hard Work Pays Off

MARCH 11, 2020 This spotlight is a transcript of the keynote speech Jaime Martinez gave on March 5, 2020 at Capital IDEA’s Celebration of Achievements luncheon. When you look back at your life, who are the people that believed in you the most? My name is Jaime Martinez, and I have been fortunate enough to […]

View More

Graduate Spotlight: Representing in Every Field

FEBRUARY 19, 2020 Caprice Boxton is an Austinite through and through. Her family has lived here for generations, dating back to the late 1800s. Caprice says she “grew up in Austin living a normal life.”  She graduated from LBJ High School, and like a lot of people, she struggled to figure out what she wanted […]

View More

Graduate Spotlight: They Found A Better Way

JANUARY 17, 2020 Student loan debt is a real problem. According to a 2019 article in Forbes magazine, student loan debt in America has hit 1.5 trillion dollars.[1] Saddling new graduates with debt can have serious consequences for their futures. New graduates often have to settle for lower-paying jobs so they can start paying their […]

View More

Graduate Spotlight: Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

DECEMBER 18, 2019 It was a long road for Lud Guerrero to get where she is now. In a society that values instant results, such as free 2-day shipping, and drive-thru windows, it takes a special kind of courage to keep fighting when things take longer than expected. Lud never expected to take such a […]

View More

Graduate Spotlight: Just Keep Showing Up

PUBLISHED OCTOBER 2, 2019 Amber Bothne’s journey through nursing school was anything but easy. “I felt like I was challenged every step of the way.” Her experiences during nursing school would have kept most people from finishing. Yet, while the obstacles kept piling on, Amber believed that if she just kept showing up, and did […]

View More

Graduate Spotlight: Giving Up Is Not An Option

PUBLISHED AUGUST 21, 2019 “You can’t give up.” Jessica Jaimes holds this motto close to her heart and strives to live it out on a daily basis. It would have been easy for her to give up, and after enduring what she described as a “horrible and abusive” relationship, and the added responsibility of raising […]

View More