JUNE 9, 2022

We’re Hiring an Outreach Specialist!
Capital IDEA is looking to hire a bilingual Outreach Specialist to join our growing Outreach Team. We’re on a mission to help thousands of our low-income, Central Texas neighbors reach their full potential and move into great careers, and we need your help to do it! If you’re a people person with a passion for helping others succeed, read on. This might be the perfect job for you. Applicants should have a demonstrated ability to reach out effectively to low-income populations with one to two years of relevant experience preferred. You’ll work 28 hours a week for a guaranteed 12 months with some possibility of extending beyond 12 months. You can read the full job description and qualifications here: Outreach Specialist Job Posting (PDF)

What’s it like to work at Capital IDEA?
At Capital IDEA, we aim to empower our income-eligible neighbors with training and education so that they can reach their full potential and fill a critical need in our community for caring, skilled, and highly motivated workers. Since our founding in 1998, more than 2,000 Central Texans have launched new careers and secured a brighter future for themselves and their families. Capital IDEA has built a diverse and dedicated team that shares a passion for our mission. When you join our team, you’ll have high expectations to meet and big goals to work towards. You’ll also have a team who supports you, and you’ll know you’re making a difference.

To Apply
Email resume to Intake & Placement Manager, Larry Cummings at lcummings@capitalidea.org.
Closing date: Open until filled. Job will close no later than Friday, August 5, 2022
Hourly Pay: $20/hour
Schedule: 28 hours per week
Duration: 12 months

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, she knew she had to do something to support herself and her kids, and through the invitation of a neighbor, she went back to school, where a whole new world opened up to her. She discovered that she was capable of learning new things and succeeding at a professional level.

Stephanie has come a long way from that time in her life. If you met her today, you’d meet Stephanie Berman the proud business owner and advocate for workplace learning, and might never guess how tumultuous her journey has been. Since graduating from Capital IDEA, she has gone on to earn a master’s degree and start her own consulting business, Engagement Through Education, which helps train and prepare caregivers and nurses to be successful in the workforce. She’s confident and passionate about helping others who struggle as she did because she knows how easy it is for people to underestimate their own capabilities. I had the chance to sit down with Stephanie to hear more about her story. Below is the recorded interview broken into eight segments with condensed and edited transcripts under each video.

1. Meet Stephanie Berman, Capital IDEA Graduate

Hi, my name is Stephanie Berman and I got my associate degree in nursing at Austin Community College through the Capital IDEA program and then from there, I went on to get my bachelor’s degree and my master’s degree with University of Texas at Arlington via the online version of the program. And currently, right now I am running my own company called Engagement Through Education which offers all different types of engagement for healthcare along with RN delegation that we do, and I also do many things consulting out in the industry for companies such as hospices or leadership teams running assisted livings or nursing homes or anyone who needs any kind of input from the RN perspective for what they’re doing.

2. What was your life like before Capital IDEA?

I was a newly single mom, which happened, unfortunately, due to domestic violence. I had 3 very small kids. At the time, my twins were one, about to turn two, and I had a six-year old. I was a stay-at-home mom at that point, and I knew I had to do something to support them, and I had to figure it out. My life had just fallen apart and turned upside down, and fortunately, my neighbor came to me and told me she was going to nursing school, and through teary eyes, I was like, ok.

3. What obstacles prevented you from going to college?

For myself, and for many other single moms I’ve talked to who are going to nursing school, I had no idea I could actually, learn. I really didn’t. I knew I wasn’t dumb, I was smart, but to actually, formally, learn something, and to become licensed at something and become an actual expert in it, I didn’t know I had the ability in me to do that. I knew I was a great mom. I knew I could figure out how to navigate that, and how to do things for them, but to actually, formally do something, I didn’t know. And then the thought of going back to school and back to work, what was I going to do with my kids? That played a big role in any choices I was making.

4. What was it like getting started?

Honestly, when that neighbor came and said, go with me to nursing school. I like to tell the funniest story. When I went to Austin Community College, and I was sitting there, there was a young guy at the registration desk, and I didn’t know what I was doing but I knew I needed to do something. When I’m sitting there and doing the registration, I’m sobbing and telling him my whole life story, and he just looked at me with this stare like, “uh, yeah, ma’am,” and he just pushed the paperwork at me, “I just need you to fill this out here.” So, I thought, ok, it was like a shock. And it made me think, ok, you can either be a victim your whole life, or you can change the story of what’s happened to you. You are going to be the only person who is able to do that. So, while there are people to help you along the way, you are going to have to take the steps.

5. What was it like going back to school?

So I had to fill out the forms, and then there were all the entrance tests I had to take, like reading and math. I thought to myself, oh this isn’t going to be good. When I went to high school I was just there for my friends. We had a great time, we only had to have a D to pass and graduate, and there was no expectation beyond that. So I met the minimum expectation. That’s why I knew taking those placement tests, it wasn’t going to be good. I was ok with reading and writing, but for math, they were expecting a lot, and I was nowhere near that. I had to start at the bottom when it came to math. One of the first classes I took was Anatomy and Physiology. In that class, the professor gave a test every day, and I remember when I got back the results of the first test I took. I’ll never forget it. I looked at it and it said, A+. I had no idea I could learn! I thought to myself, I just did this with three small kids, I was in the middle of a nasty divorce, I was trying to survive, and somehow I was able to get a 100 on a test! That was my moment where I realized I could actually do this.

6. What was the most meaningful support service you received?

The most meaningful support I received from Capital IDEA was everything. And when I say everything, I mean absolutely everything. There were the books, the scrubs, the stethoscope, the shoes, the scissors. I was better equipped than those who had the resources that they needed. There was not a study guide, or a test class, or anything additional that I needed, that Capital IDEA didn’t meet with a resource. The practical stuff from food to a Thanksgiving dinner, to helping me find resources outside even of what Capital IDEA could do, in order to keep me going. Like removing every obstacle so I could keep going on my journey to becoming a nurse.

7. What advice would you give prospective students?

Here’s the advice I would give to somebody hesitant to go back to school. Is it because you think you can’t learn or you can’t do it? This is the time to take the chance. With the support of someone or something like Capital IDEA, because there is going to be someone at Capital IDEA who will make an impact and then that something is that machine at Capital IDEA behind you to be able to use all the resources. So, if there’s a time to be successful, this is the time to be successful. Don’t doubt yourself. You can do more than you’ve ever thought possible. You can do more for yourself and for your family. And in a year from now, you’ll be so happy that you’re a year closer to whatever goal it is that you want to be. Whether it’s a nurse, mechanic, CNA, electrician. It doesn’t matter what it is. You’ll be happy you took that step. For me, this has been very true. In education, whether it’s a formal education or somebody just inputting into my life. Knowledge, it gave me options, and everybody does better when you have options and when you have choices. And that’s what you want to create for yourself. A life where you have options and choices of what you can do.

8. What advice would you give to graduate nurses entering the workforce?

There is not going to be a perfect place to take care of people. That’s the bottom line. There are going to be a lot of great places to go and care for them. Whether you’re doing it in the hospital or you’re doing it in the post-acute, you’re doing it at home. You could be doing it in all types of services to take care of people. The most impactful thing that you’re going to be able to do is to care for people. And to input into their lives. Because you’re not just going to be able to touch their lives, you’re going to be able to reach everyone’s life around them. Don’t lose sight of that because that’s really easy to do. The other thing I would say is that complaining about anything when it comes to taking care of people, even if it’s the situation of the environment where you’re taking care of them, doing any kind of complaining, don’t be the complainer be the problem solver. When I wanted to do this company it’s because I saw a problem and I knew I could fix it. Even if you’re not the type of person to start a business, you don’t have to be that person, but you can talk to people about solutions. That’s what everybody wants. They want solutions. How can we make this better, and what can we do? If you get frustrated, that’s just sitting down with a fellow nurse with a good cup of coffee, maybe a little glass of wine, and being able to talk that out, and talk about how you can fix and solve that. There are so many people just right here, in Texas alone, there are so many people who are vested in helping you all do the very best job you can as nurses. You’ve got this!


At Capital IDEA, we provide services and support to remove obstacles keeping individuals from realizing their potential and career goals. If you are feeling held back due to circumstances in your life, let’s talk. You can email our team at outreach@capitalidea.org, or sign up for an information session: LEARN MORE »

To apply, sign up for an info session: CareerUp »
For questions: 512-457-8610 | outreach@capitalidea.org | Ask a Question »
Quick links: Qualifications | Career Directory | FAQs


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MAY 31, 2022

We’re Hiring a Grants Manager!
Capital IDEA is looking to hire an experienced Grants Manager (3+ years experience) to manage a portfolio of 20-25 public and private grants. At Capital IDEA, we aim to empower our income-eligible neighbors with training and education so that they can reach their full potential and fill a critical need in our community for caring, skilled, and highly motivated workers. Since our founding in 1998, more than 2,000 Central Texans have launched new careers and secured a brighter future for themselves and their families. You can help us continue our important work. If you’re known for your attention to detail, you’re passionate about Capital IDEA’s mission, and you consistently write clear and compelling prose, we’d love to hear from you! Read through the full job description and qualifications here: Grants Manager Job Description (PDF)

What’s it like to work at Capital IDEA?
Capital IDEA has built a diverse and dedicated team that shares a passion for our mission. We reward performance through competitive salaries and merit-based raises. While we expect our team to go above and beyond in service to our community, we also believe that you must take care of yourself to take care of others. When you join our team, you’ll have high expectations to meet and big goals to work towards. You’ll also have a team who supports you, and you’ll know you’re making a difference.

To Apply
Email a letter of interest, resume, and two relevant writing samples to Amy Silvey at hiring@capitalidea.org.
OPEN UNTIL FILLED
Salary Range: $60,000 – $68,000
Estimated Start Date: August 2022

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 it into the house (she was too little to carry it). She absolutely loved it. From that young age, Estrella knew that helping others made her happy. As she grew, Estrella’s desire to help grew too, and by the time she graduated high school, she knew exactly what she wanted to do with her life. “Nursing was a great way to give back and help. My heart was calling me to nursing.”

No one in Estrella’s family had experience with going to college. This meant no one in her family could help her navigate the complexities of college enrollment, and she didn’t know anything about grants, scholarships, or where to get help financially. So, she enrolled in classes at Austin Community College (ACC) and planned to work a full-time job to pay for tuition and her expenses. Unfortunately, the program she wanted to get into had a two-year waiting list. Estrella did not want to wait, so, she searched for an alternative.

She thought she had found the perfect solution, but little did she know the trouble ahead. She enrolled in a for-profit school whose class schedule worked with her work schedule, and they promised her she would be able to complete the program faster. It was expensive, but through the student loans they helped her apply for and a full-time job, she could pay for the program. Unfortunately, the school went bankrupt, lost its accreditation, and closed shop before Estrella could complete the program. Not only was she on the hook for her loans, but the credits she earned at this school wouldn’t transfer anywhere. She was left with no credentials, a mountain of debt, and her dream of becoming a nurse seemed to be slipping away.

“Nursing was a great way to give back and help. My heart was calling me to nursing.”

She felt defeated. The long drives to the campus and the sleep-deprived days of balancing work and school had left her with nothing to show for it. Chasing her dream was becoming increasingly difficult. So, if she couldn’t become a nurse, Estrella figured she would get a job in the healthcare industry. She was a hard worker and worked her way up from a research technician to a project manager assistant at a pharmaceutical company. She earned a decent wage and was able to take ownership of her childhood home that her parents passed down to her. Life was coming together, but her dream of becoming a nurse was still tugging at her, and she began saving up for college once more.

Then, in a twist of fate, Estrella came home after working a late-night shift to a shocking discovery. A tornado had come through and destroyed her house! “Everything was wet, and I lost everything. I lost my house. I felt like all my dreams, and everything I worked for was gone.” As she slowly figured out how to recover from this devastating loss, she realized, “I can’t go to school right now. I’ll have to put my dreams to the side again.”

But Estrella just couldn’t shake the desire to become a nurse. “I wanted to be a role model. I wanted to help people. I knew I wanted more, and I wanted my parents to be proud.” She tried going back to school on her own dime again, but she came to a crossroads. “Unfortunately, I couldn’t afford to go to school and continue working full time, so I had to pick one, and that’s when Capital IDEA came and rescued me.”

“Unfortunately, I couldn’t afford to go to school and continue working full time, so I had to pick one, and that’s when Capital IDEA came and rescued me.”

It just so happened one of her co-workers was a nursing student at ACC. She told Estrella that Capital IDEA was paying for her tuition, textbooks, and other school expenses. This sounded too good to be true, but Estrella took the chance, applied, and got accepted, and it turned out to be one of her best decisions. “Going back to school with Capital IDEA supporting me was amazing! I finally felt like I had the resources I needed.” The financial support was a huge weight lifted off Estrella’s shoulders, and her Career Navigator, Tonia, was nothing short of amazing. “She would check up on me, making sure I was doing ok. Just having someone that understood, having someone to relate to and talk to about things like deadlines and credits was so helpful.”

As graduation approached, Estrella worked with Capital IDEA Senior Employment Coordinator Ron Modesty, who reviewed her resume, prepared her for interviews, guided her job search, and even helped her with negotiating! “When I was getting multiple job offers, I didn’t know what to do, so I called Ron! He advised me on how to handle negotiations with them and get the best deal possible.”

On November 1, 2021, Estrella started her dream job as a Licensed Vocational Nurse at Dell Seton Medical Center at the University of Texas in the Digestive Health department. “It’s been so much fun. I love to learn, and I’m learning so many new things.” And now, she’s looking to expand her dream. “I want to work towards becoming a Physician’s Assistant, and who knows, if things work out, maybe become an MD someday.”

“I hope you find the resilience to keep going. You are capable of everything, even though it feels overwhelming. You are worthy of a bright future.”

Estrella went through a lot on her way to getting her dream job. She encourages aspiring students to take a leap of faith, believe in themselves, and dream big. “I hope you find the resilience to keep going. You are capable of everything, even though it feels overwhelming. You are worthy of a bright future.”

At Capital IDEA, we share Estrella’s belief that everyone is worthy of a bright future, and we’d like to help you achieve yours. If you are feeling held back due to a lack of guidance and resources, let’s talk. You can email our team at outreach@capitalidea.org, or sign up for an information session: LEARN MORE »

To apply, sign up for an info session: CareerUp »
For questions: 512-457-8610 or outreach@capitalidea.org
Quick links: Qualifications | Career Directory | FAQs


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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 and a 2021 Austin Community College graduate. I am so excited to receive the Aurora Alworth Spirit award because it reminds me of how much I have overcome and achieved. I know that none of that would have been possible without the support of my family, Austin Can Academy, Capital IDEA, and most importantly, my faith in my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

By the Grace of God, I overcame abuse and an addiction to drugs and alcohol. Growing up was a traumatic experience. My childhood included an unstable home environment filled with arguing and neglect. I experienced many forms of abuse at the hands of other family members, and all of this led to a lack of self-respect for myself and any sort of hope for a happy life. Then things got even more difficult.

At age 15, I took a pregnancy test, and it was positive. Add to that, my boyfriend of two years, the father of my child, split, and it was time for me to grow up. My mother enrolled me in Austin Can Academy to get my life together. Even though I was technically a sophomore going in, I had only earned two credits from my previous school because I was skipping school, getting high with my friends, and dealing dope with my ex-boyfriend. At Austin Can Academy, I had no choice but to get my crap together.

That first year as a pregnant teenager, I had little to no friends and pretty much stayed to myself and did my work. I was doing well, and about two years later, my old ways sucked me back in. I was about 17 when my addiction to marijuana and other hard substances, coupled with the stress of being a single mom, led to me dropping out of school. This was not the life I had hoped for. I wanted more for myself and my daughter. I wanted to graduate high school, and I wanted to make my parents proud.

“This was not the life I had hoped for. I wanted more for myself and my daughter. I wanted to graduate high school, and I wanted to make my parents proud.”

A few months after I dropped out, I resolved that I would make it. I had to, not only for me but for my daughter. My mother took me back to Austin Can Academy, and to my surprise, I had 16 credits! I only needed eight credits to graduate, and even though I wasn’t a perfect student, I tried my best. The good news was that I wasn’t alone. Through programs offered at Navarro High School for teen moms and after-school evening classes, I earned my high school diploma at 19!

At this point in the story, I wish I could say that after receiving my diploma, my fairy Godmother appeared, and everything fell into place, but that would be a lie. That same year, I met my future husband. We moved in together, and I started working at a cell phone store. Unfortunately, we both had baggage and pain from our childhood and struggled with our own addictions. He drank, I smoked, and we fought all the time. It was abusive and toxic, and as a result, we also had two miscarriages.

In 2012, two years after I graduated high school, my sister invited me to a church program called Celebrate Recovery. This is a free program available to anyone seeking recovery from addiction. I attended their meetings, and I learned more about addiction and how it affects people in all areas of their lives. I was now pregnant with my second child, and I decided to try and get sober with the help of a CR support group and their 12-step program.

Years later, in 2015, while I was still in the CR program, I met a young woman at my church, and we began to talk. I shared with her my dream of becoming a nurse, and she recommended that I look up a program called Capital IDEA. She said they were currently paying for her education at Austin Community College! It sounded too good to be true. I thought to myself, how am I going to go back to school after all these years, and now I have three kids?

“I thought to myself, how am I going to go back to school after all these years, and now I have three kids?”

Following this encounter, I remember attending a women’s conference, and the guest speaker spoke about living in “the land of milk and honey.” She said that before we could make it to our own “land of milk and honey,” we must first face our fears. Then she posed these questions: what is your land of milk and honey, and what are you afraid of?

I realized that the first step to getting to my “land of milk and honey” was attending an orientation session at Capital IDEA and learning more about their programs. Much to my dismay, they did not have funding that year for childcare, and they recommended that I try again in the future. I admit that I was discouraged, but I didn’t lose hope! I had a relationship with the Lord and a support system that continued to spur me on. I thought to myself, “that’s ok, maybe it’s not the right season…” but I had a resolve within me; I will go back to school, and I will be a nurse! Of course, I had other thoughts, like “but what if I fail? But what if I don’t make it? But what if I’m not smart enough? What if I’m not good enough? The list goes on and on.

Despite all my fears, I thought, “I must try. If I don’t try and reach my dreams, I will not die in peace!!” It sounds funny (and a bit dramatic looking back at it now), but it’s true! The thought of becoming old and gray and not even trying to reach my goal in life made me so sad.

In 2016, I attended another Capital IDEA info session, and by the Grace of God, they had funding for childcare! At this point in my life, I lived in my mom’s house with my husband, our three kids, my sister, her husband, and their four kids (it was crazy and chaotic, literally). I spoke to my husband and my mom, and they encouraged me to give it a go. I applied and qualified for their program and began school after seven long years in the Spring of 2017.

I was not alone on this journey. I had a Career Navigator that held my hand every step of the way. They believed in me. They told me what to do, who to speak with, which classes to apply for, and more. Since Capital IDEA was paying for mostly everything, I could keep the money I got through financial aid. It really did seem too good to be true, but it wasn’t, and my dream of being a college student was coming true. And as much as I’d love to tell you that now my fairy Godmother came and finally made life easy, that would be a lie too.

“I was not alone on this journey. I had a Career Navigator that held my hand every step of the way. They believed in me.”

College wasn’t easy. I was never a great high school student, and college was even more challenging. I didn’t pass every semester, and I didn’t get straight A’s. I had many setbacks: I lost my beloved dog, Cha-Cha, I had another kid, and I was diagnosed with PTSD from all of my childhood trauma. With obstacles piling up, it was hard not to get discouraged, so it became more and more important for me to prioritize. I had to be intentional every single day about making the right decisions for myself and my future. I attended church and my Celebrate Recovery groups, focused on my studies, stayed true to my sobriety, and built up my support system. And it paid off.

On December 13, 2021, I graduated with my Associate’s Degree in Nursing. On February 7th, I started my dream job as a Medical Surgical Nurse on the 5th floor of Seton Main, one of the Largest Hospitals in Austin, TX! My dream had come true! As I sit back and reflect on my life, I can remember when I was a student in high school, and I never dreamed that I would ever make it this far. I used to be a troubled teen who couldn’t seem to get it together, and my parents were far from proud. And now, my entire family is proud of me.

I am so grateful to everyone who supported me along the way because I know that I couldn’t have done this alone. I want to thank my family, especially my mom, my husband, Santiago Valle, and my kids, Abigail, Joshua, Katherine, and Santiago Santamaria. They all had to sacrifice so much for me to get where I am, and without their support at home, I don’t know how I would’ve done this.

I’m also so grateful for Austin Can Academy, which gave me a second chance at getting a high school diploma. Then my Celebrate Recovery family ultimately gave me the strength and courage to participate in the beautiful and life-giving program of Capital IDEA. Capital IDEA provided me with financial and emotional support as I continued this long and arduous journey. They gave me an opportunity to step out of poverty and transform my future and the lives of my family forever.

Think about that for a moment, my destiny was forever changed because of the opportunity they provided!

“Capital IDEA provided me with financial and emotional support as I continued this long and arduous journey. They gave me an opportunity to step out of poverty and transform my future and the lives of my family forever.”

And it’s because of that opportunity I can do something I love and am passionate about, which is helping others. As a nurse, I’ll have the chance to help others at the hospital. I was also recently invited to speak at my old school, Austin Can Academy, where I shared my story with other students, hopefully inspiring them to pursue their dreams. And I want to do more! In the future, I’d like to be a part of a program or help create programs for individuals who need assistance with affording healthcare and also programs for behavioral health issues like recovering from addiction. I’m not sure what it will all look like, but my goal is to use everything I have learned, and will learn, in the nursing field to help others, just like so many have helped me.

I’m receiving this award not because I did anything by myself. It’s because of all the people who helped me get here. If I could go back and speak to myself at a young age, I would say, “Hey you, you are doing the best you can. Hold your head up high and never give up. Don’t be afraid to own your mistakes and take responsibility for your own actions. Then, find a group of people who are willing to do life with you and support you.” That’s the message I want to leave you with today. Thank you.


Going to college can be a challenge, but you don’t have to do it alone. Sign up for an info session to learn more about the extensive support you can receive through the Career Expressway program. LEARN MORE »

To apply, sign up for an info session: CareerUp »
For questions: 512-457-8610 or outreach@capitalidea.org
Quick links: Qualifications | Career Directory | FAQs


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From Left: Alyssia Palacios-Woods, Eva Rios-Lleverino, and Steve Jackobs.

MARCH 30, 2022

Contact: Amy Silvey, Director of Development and Communications
512-485-9353, asilvey@capitalidea.org

Upcoming Transitions at Capital IDEA

  • Capital IDEA announces Alyssia Palacios-Woods as its new Executive Director, effective July 1.
  • Founding Executive Director, Steve Jackobs, is stepping down on March 31 to devote himself to running for Austin Community College’s Board of Trustees.
  • Eva Rios-Lleverino, who has been with Capital IDEA for 23 years, will serve as the Interim Executive Director from April 1 to June 30, 2022.

AUSTIN, TEXAS – March 30, 2022

Capital IDEA has named Alyssia Palacios-Woods its new Executive Director, effective July 1, 2022. Ms. Palacios-Woods has more than a decade of experience in nonprofit leadership, including her two current roles as President & CEO of Austin Young Chamber and Vice-Chair of Capital IDEA’s Board of Directors. In her five years at Austin Young Chamber, Ms. Palacios-Woods forged strategic partnerships across the region, connecting businesses, government entities, institutions of higher education, and nonprofits to drive significant workforce impact. She is currently an ex-officio member of the Austin Chamber’s Board of Directors. In 2020, she was an Inaugural Mentee of Color with The New Philanthropists and served on the Opening Central Texas for Business Task Force. Her years of highly relevant experience, her track record of effectiveness, and her commitment to innovation and diversity earned her unanimous approval from Capital IDEA’s Board of Directors in a formal vote on March 25.

Ms. Palacios-Woods will assume leadership from founding Executive Director Steve Jackobs, who has been with Capital IDEA since its inception in 1998. Mr. Jackobs, who announced his retirement in January, is leaving the organization three months earlier than planned to devote himself to running for Austin Community College’s Board of Trustees. Under his leadership, Capital IDEA has helped more than 2,000 low-income Central Texans to obtain an education in the fastest-growing fields, such as healthcare, information technology, and skilled trades.

Eva Rios-Lleverino has been with Capital IDEA since its launch in 1998. As Capital IDEA’s Deputy Executive Director, she plays an instrumental role in leading the organization’s programmatic operations and administration and is poised to support Capital IDEA through this transition.

About Capital IDEA

Capital IDEA serves the community by acting as a bridge, connecting committed yet underemployed people to employers in need of highly skilled workers. Capital IDEA funds participants’ tuition, books, and childcare and works with them to find employment with good salaries, benefits, and career growth opportunities.

Established in 1998 through the efforts of Central Texas Interfaith (formerly Austin Interfaith) and the local business community, Capital IDEA lifts working families out of poverty by sponsoring educational services that lead to life-long financial stability.

To date, more than 2,000 participants have entered career employment in high-demand occupations, including nursing and other healthcare occupations, high tech, and professional trades. The average starting earnings of participants entering employment in the last 12 months is $25.00/hr. More than 900 participants are currently in training or are receiving post-placement services. Half aspire to careers in nursing.

Download: Press Release – ED Announcements – 3-2022 (PDF)


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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 seemed like the natural fit for someone like him. “I have always been interested in electrical things and putting things together.” As a power technician, he could be traveling around, physically active, working in the electronics field that captured his interest, and still earning a great salary, provided he had the right degree.  But even knowing that opportunities existed, Hammurabi still hesitated to go directly to college out of high school.

Hammurabi was the middle child. He grew up in a household with a single mother and two sisters and placed a high value on helping his family financially. That led to him working at a local grocery store as a stocker in high school. After graduating from Lanier High School in 2016, he continued to work at the store not knowing if or when college would be in his future. His mom always believed in the value of education but knew it would be difficult. “My mom was a single mom with three kids. It would be costly to send the three of us to college.” So, Hammurabi chose to keep working.

“I’m a person that likes to be hands-on and build things.”

Six months later, things changed. Hammurabi knew he had to try to go to college if he wanted to make enough money for himself and his family. Thankfully, he remembered a presentation at his high school about a program called Capital IDEA. This program would help him go to college for free, which was exactly what he needed. He attended an information session, applied, and got accepted into Capital IDEA’s Career Expressway program.

Hammurabi continued helping his family by keeping his full-time job at the grocery store while enrolling in college full-time as well. Even though he’d done well in high school, college proved to be more stressful. Between a full-time job and demanding courses, balancing everything became too much. “Halfway through my degree, keeping up with my studies and work became an issue. I didn’t have any time to myself.” He had a tough choice to make, should he prioritize school or work? Hammurabi chose school, left his job, and flew through the rest of his degree program, graduating with his associate of applied science in Power Electric Utility Technologies in two years.

“Having free tuition really helped my mom, and I am grateful for that.”

After graduation, Hammurabi set out on his first professional job hunt. He was qualified and ready but finding an entry-level position in the power technology field proved difficult. Thankfully, the Career Expressway program included job placement assistance. Capital IDEA’s Employment Coordinator, Ron Modesty helped Hammurabi with resume building and finding leads, and Suzanne Baker, Capital IDEA Alumni and Student Engagement Coordinator, connected him with alum, Heriberto Gonzalez. Heriberto was coming up on two decades of experience in the power technology field, and he sat down with Hammurabi (pictured above) to offer him advice and encouragement including tips on where to look for jobs and which ones to take. A few months later, Hammurabi landed a job with Lonestar Communications.

Today, Hammurabi is moving up at Lonestar. After two years at the company, he is now a Lead Technician responsible for training others to pull cable in hospitals and schools for their PA and intercom systems. He is also a part of a career ladder program the company just started that offers classes for individuals who want to move up the ranks. His goal is to “grow as much as I can and move up within the company,” but if his opportunities dry up there, “I’ll find a company where I can advance further,” he says. Because, again, Hammurabi is not one to sit still.

“At least try it out because if you want a good career, college is there to help you get it. There’s always a way to fix any issues that come up.”

As Hammurabi continues to move forward in his career, he’s still thinking of his family. When asked what was most meaningful about the support he got from Capital IDEA, he notes. “Having free tuition really helped my mom, and I am grateful for that.” The degree he earned has opened doors, and he can see that it’s leading him towards a brighter future, which is why he advises anyone unsure or hesitant about going to college to “at least try it out because if you want a good career, college is there to help you get it. There’s always a way to fix any issues that come up.”

Are you someone who is hesitant about going to college? Sometimes you just need to try it out. You have nothing to lose and an excellent career to gain. Sign up for an info session to learn more about our career offerings. LEARN MORE »

To apply, sign up for an info session: CareerUp »
For questions: 512-457-8610 or outreach@capitalidea.org
Quick links: Qualifications | Career Directory | FAQs


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FEBRUARY 21, 2022

BIG NEWS — Residents of Travis County and/or City of Austin have until September 2022 to qualify under our NEW income guidelines and secure their seats in our Career Expressway program. The Career Expressway offers full tuition assistance, textbooks, and more. Residents who apply and get accepted during this temporary extension period will continue to be eligible even after it expires. Once enrolled, you will not need to reapply or reconfirm your eligibility. You will get to choose from a number of excellent degree programs and your entire college education will be completely FREE to you. Capital IDEA will provide career guidance and financial assistance every semester through to your graduation and job placement:

● We will pay your full tuition each semester, purchase your textbooks, and pay for miscellaneous fees including required tools and uniforms.

● We’ll also offer childcare assistance to parents.

● Once you’ve earned your degree, we’ll guide you in your job search and help you land your dream job. It’s our mission is to get you into a new career, and we’ll be with you until you’ve accepted a good job offer!

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How much have our income guidelines changed?

Previously, the maximum income an applicant could make was based on 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. For a family of four, monthly income was capped at $4,625 a month. Under our expanded income guidelines, the income cap is 250% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. A family of four can now earn up to $5,781 a month. Use the chart below to find out what your maximum income is based on your household size. Once you’ve confirmed your eligibility,  Sign up for a CareerUp information session. We’ll cover everything you need to know about how to get your FREE degree through our Career Expressway program!

CHART: Expanded Income Eligibility for Travis County by Household Size

Household Size Monthly Household Income
Travis County / City of Austin Max Income 250% of
Federal Poverty Guidelines
1 $2,831
2 $3,815
3 $4,798
4 $5,781
5 $6,765
6 $7,748
7 $8,731
8 $9,715


For a full list of qualifications, please visit: Qualifications »
To get started, sign up for a CareerUp information session:


FAQ: Why is this program FREE?
We’re a nonprofit with a mission to get our Central Texas neighbors into great careers. Each year, Capital IDEA raises enough money to pay for tuition and textbooks for over 800 adults, like you! If you’re eligible for our program, your tuition and textbooks are already paid for by the generous support of our funders, including the City of Austin, Travis County, and St. David’s Foundation. Get started with your FREE education —

To apply, sign up for an info session: CareerUp »
For questions: 512-457-8610 or outreach@capitalidea.org
Quick links: Qualifications | Career Directory | FAQs


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JANUARY 28, 2022

BIG NEWS — Capital IDEA is excited to announce that we have temporarily expanded the number of careers available to applicants from Hays and Bastrop counties! This change will stay in effect through September 2022. This means residents who apply now can choose from the same full list of careers available to Travis and Williamson County residents. Your college degree is FREE to you, just pick your new career and receive all of the benefits of our Career Expressway program:

● We will pay your full tuition each semester, purchase your textbooks, and pay for miscellaneous fees including required tools and uniforms.

● We’ll also offer childcare assistance to parents.

● Once you’ve earned your degree, we’ll guide you in your job search and help you land your dream job. It’s our mission is to get you into a new career, and we’ll be with you from start to HIRED!

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Which Careers Are New?

Previously, Hays and Bastrop residents had a short list of nine or fewer healthcare careers to choose from. On our expanded list, the number of careers has more than doubled! Choose from three additional Healthcare careers, three Technology (IT) careers, and nine Trades & Other careers. See below. These added careers include several exciting options. Advanced Manufacturing was added to our list less than a year ago. Automotive Technician includes a professional toolset purchased for each student. And LAN Systems Network Administrator is our most popular IT degree. Each career on our list offers great pay and growth opportunities, which means the hard work you put in now will pay off for the rest of your working life. Follow the links in the list below for information on the career you want to learn more about, or visit our Career Directory »

Once you’ve found your future career,  Sign up for a CareerUp information session. We’ll cover everything you need to know about how to get your FREE degree through our Career Expressway program, sign up!

Careers Open to Hays & Bastrop

*Newly added for Hays and Bastrop

Field Career Options
Registered Nurse (RN, ADN)
Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN)
* Biotechnology
Dental Hygienist
Diagnostic Medical Imaging — Radiology
Emergency Medical Services (EMS)
* Health Information Technology (Medical Coder)
Medical Laboratory Technician
Occupational Therapy Assistant
Physical Therapy Assistant
* Respiratory Therapist
Surgical Technician
Info Tech * LAN Systems Network Administrator
* IT User & Computer Support Specialist
* Computer Programming: Web Development
Reliability Icon * Advanced Manufacturing Technician
* Automotive Technician
* CAD – Computer Aided Design
* Electronics Technician
* Heating, Ventilation & Air Conditioning (HVAC)
* Land Surveying Technology & Geomatics
* Power Technology
* Renewable Energy Technician
* Utility Lineworker


For a full list of qualifications, please visit: Qualifications »
To get started, sign up for a CareerUp information session:


FAQ: Why is this program FREE?
We’re a nonprofit with a mission to get our Central Texas neighbors into great careers. Each year, Capital IDEA raises enough money to pay for tuition and textbooks for over 800 adults, like you! If you’re eligible for our program, your tuition and textbooks are already paid for by the generous support of our funders, including the City of Austin, Travis County, and St. David’s Foundation. Get started with your FREE education —

To apply, sign up for an info session: CareerUp »
For questions: 512-457-8610 or outreach@capitalidea.org
Quick links: Qualifications | Career Directory | FAQs


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JANUARY 13, 2022

Contact: Amy Silvey, Director of Development and Communications
512-485-9353, asilvey@capitalidea.org

Capital IDEA announces the retirement of founding Executive Director, Steve Jackobs

AUSTIN, TEXAS – JANUARY 13, 2022 – After serving as Capital IDEA’s Executive Director since 1998, Steve Jackobs announced his plan to retire in August of this year.

“After more than 23 years, and as I turn 65 in August, 2022 is the right time for me to pass on the leadership of Capital IDEA. I am proud and honored to have served as Capital IDEA’s Executive Director since its founding. It is my bedrock faith that we solve problems with win-win solutions. Capital IDEA proves that bringing together businesses that need skilled workers and our neighbors who need good careers is a win-win. Moreover, I stand in awe of our students’ grit and resolve as they work and study hard to create better lives for themselves and their families. I am inspired to see our graduates’ children follow their parents’ examples and succeed in their own education.”

“Capital IDEA has been fortunate to have such a committed, passionate, and steadfast servant leader since its inception.”

During his stewardship, Capital IDEA has so far placed 2,000 low-income Central Texans into new high-paying careers, primarily in nursing, other health care careers, tech, and the trades. Capital IDEA and Steve have received numerous awards over the years, including multiple Greater Austin Chamber Business Awards, First Tee Austin Robert T. Hughes Philanthropic Leader, Liveable City Vision Award, Ethics in Business, Bank of America Neighborhood Builder, Greenlights for NonProfit Success Collaboration Award, CommunityTechKnowledge, Ernst & Young Social Entrepreneur of the Year, and the Dream Come True Foundation Lifetime Achievement. Capital IDEA will be featured in an upcoming book, Growing Fairly/How to Build Opportunity and Equity in Workforce Development, by former Indianapolis Mayor Stephen Goldsmith and Kate Coleman.

Board Chair, Rev Paul Skeith, shared, “Central Texas invests local funds in the careers and futures of its low-income neighbors. Capital IDEA has been fortunate to have such a committed, passionate, and steadfast servant leader since its inception. We thank Steve for his legacy, and the board aims to find someone of equal passion and inspiration to continue to help families and local businesses flourish.”

About Capital IDEA
Capital IDEA serves the community by acting as a bridge, connecting committed, yet underemployed people to employers in need of highly skilled workers. Capital IDEA funds participants’ tuition, books, and childcare and works with them to find employment with good salaries, benefits, and career growth opportunities.

Established in 1998 through the efforts of Central Texas Interfaith (formerly Austin Interfaith) and the local business community, Capital IDEA lifts working families out of poverty by sponsoring educational services that lead to life-long financial stability.

To date, more than 2,000 participants have entered career employment in high-demand occupations, including nursing and other healthcare occupations, high tech, and professional trades. The average starting earnings of participants entering employment in the last 12 months is $25.00/hr. More than 900 participants are currently in training or are receiving post-placement services. Half aspire to careers in nursing.

Download Press Release (PDF)

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“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 the second grade, when her mother was in a car accident, that her desire to help would become a calling. That experience, and the care her family received from the nurses, was imprinted on her heart, and “I knew then that God had instilled in me this desire to be a nurse,” but the road to get there took many twists and turns.

Right after high school, Stephanie enrolled in college with her sights set on nursing school. In her first semester, she started dating someone and found out she was pregnant shortly before the relationship turned sour. It escalated into a physically abusive relationship, and she realized she had to get out before it was too late. When she turned to her family, the bedrock of support she thought she could always rely on, they gave her an ultimatum.

“I’m Nigerian. I grew up in an African household with immigrant parents who came to this country to get an education and work hard for their family.” Stephanie’s family is steeped in cultural values. One of these values is a priority for women to get married. Having a child out of wedlock was considered hugely disrespectful to her mother and the family. She had a choice. Give up her child before he was born or lose the support of her family. She chose her child, a son she named Kamani, and mother and son were left alone to fend for themselves.

“My mother would joke that I came out of the womb wanting to help people.”

Stephanie left community college to earn her credentials as a Medical Assistant, which was as close to her dream of being a nurse as she could get under the circumstances. In her new job, she worked tirelessly to provide for her child, making the best of the unexpected twists her life had taken. Little did she know, an opportunity was about to present itself that would change her life.

“I was working at an OBGYN clinic when I met a nurse who was a Capital IDEA graduate. She knew I wanted to pursue nursing and told me to check out the program. To be honest, Capital IDEA sounded too good to be true, but after attending an information meeting, I realized that they were the real deal.” After going through the application process, Stephanie was accepted into the Career Expressway program. She now had the support system she needed to make her dreams come true. “When I got accepted, it was such a big sigh of relief. And now I believed I could do this. Now I believed I could go all the way and get my nursing degree.”

Even with Capital IDEA’s support, Stephanie knew it would take a lot of hard work and sacrifice to finish nursing school. Without family to rely on, Stephanie had to get creative with childcare. “For single moms, you have to come up with a plan. Without the help of my family, I relied a lot on my friends. One would say they could only watch him till 11:00 am, and another would say they could pick him up and watch them until 3:00 pm. So I would pick him up at 3:30 after clinicals. And each day of the week, I had to make a different plan, but I was determined to do this.”

“To be honest, Capital IDEA sounded too good to be true, but after attending an information meeting, I realized that they were the real deal.”

Little to no sleep became routine for Stephanie during this time. After putting her son to bed, she would stay up late to finish her studying and schoolwork. But all that sacrifice and hard work paid off when she graduated with her Associate’s Degree. She even managed to pass the NCLEX,  the notoriously difficult nurse licensing exam, on the first try! And shortly thereafter, “it was like a dream come true” when she was hired at Ascension Seton Medical Center Main as an Operating Room Circulating Nurse.

Graduation meant more for Stephanie than just a degree. It meant a better job and a better life for her and her son, who is now eleven years old. And it presented an opportunity for reconciliation with some of her family when they saw everything she had accomplished. Just as life was heading in the right direction, Stephanie’s faith and resolve were tested once again.

About a year into her new job, a pandemic swept across the globe, upending life in a way most people had never experienced. By March of 2020, COVID-19 had become so widespread in the United States it was shutting down businesses and overwhelming hospitals. “It was frightening, especially being a new nurse. It felt like the world was on my shoulders, a very trying time. I worked more hours and days than normal, and in a very short time, I got burned out.” Her front-line work meant she had to distance herself from her son. “Kamani has asthma. I didn’t get to see him except through FaceTime. Being away from your child for almost two months is not a very good feeling at all.” As testing improved and vaccines became available, Stephanie reunited with her son, still maintaining strict cleaning protocols. “I used the same type of wipes we use at work to wipe down everything! I wiped shoes, the car, the shower, everything! The entire year he managed to be safe, and all of that couldn’t have been done without God.”

“I worked hard to make my dreams come true, and I want to be a guide to others. I gave my brother the motivation to go to medical school, and I have set a different standard with my family.”

Through it all, helping others continued to be a hallmark of who Stephanie is, whether she’s serving as a nurse or a role model. “I worked hard to make my dreams come true, and I want to be a guide to others. I gave my brother the motivation to go to medical school, and I have set a different standard with my family.”

Today, Stephanie continues to love her career as a nurse, and despite the pandemic, she knows she’s in the right career. “This was a very trying time, but in retrospect, it has been very rewarding. We got to be there and help people feel better and reassure people who had to come in for essential surgeries that they would be safe and taken care of.” And even though conditions continue to improve, nurses are still feeling the strain. “It’s so vital that we get more nurses trained and out in the field. Currently, nurses are working overtime, switching shifts, floated to other units, and are getting burned out. We need help!” This help cannot arrive soon enough for nurses like Stephanie. “New nurses coming in are going to be nervous and scared, but we’re here to support them.”

TIP: You can graduate two years earlier if you don’t wait two years to start.

Capital IDEA is currently supporting hundreds of future nurses just like we supported Stephanie, and we have room for even more. From acceptance to graduation, we guide students through training and education in essential fields like healthcare, technology, and trades, so that they can fill a critical need in our community for caring and skilled professionals. If you’re ready for a new career and could make good use of a FREE education, we invite you to LEARN MORE »

To apply, sign up for an info session: CareerUp »
For questions: 512-457-8610 or outreach@capitalidea.org
Quick links: Qualifications | Career Directory | FAQs


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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 Corps of Engineers, and his work as an ally gave him the opportunity to move to the U.S. on a special visa with his family.

Moving to the U.S. was a bit of a mixed bag for Khaibar. On the one hand, the move provided safety and security for his family and better opportunities for his kids. On the other, it wasn’t easy to start over. Even though he had the experience and a degree as an engineer, the U.S. does not fully recognize degrees and credentials from many other countries. This meant Khaibar was technically not qualified to be an engineer in his new home country. If he wanted to re-enter his field, he’d have to re-earn his credentials.

“I was living with no purpose and no aim. I was just passing the time feeling like I had lost something.”

Starting over can be a debilitating endeavor for many people. Khaibar was used to the work and title of a civil engineer. His expertise was once considered valuable by the United States Army and others in his home country. And now, without the validation of his credentials, he had to take a low-paying job as a security guard to make ends meet for his family. This brought Khaibar to a low point in his life. “I was living with no purpose and no aim. I was just passing the time feeling like I had lost something.”

Fortunately for Khaibar, through Caritas of Austin, the organization that helped his family resettle in the United States, he was introduced to Capital IDEA. “When I heard about Capital IDEA, I found the motivation to get my degree because I knew it would give me more opportunities in life not only to support my family but also to improve my education.” Working full-time as a security guard provided barely enough for his family, so paying for college was out of the question. Capital IDEA paid for Khaibar’s tuition and textbooks so he could earn his degree. But Khaibar needed more than financial support.

“It was hard at first going to school. My English was weak,” Khaibar says, but his Career Navigator, Suzanne Baker, helped to enroll him in the English as a Second Language classes (ESL). “Suzanne gave me the motivation I needed. She gave me hope with ESL classes and helping me take care of all the forms I needed.” With Capital IDEA’s support in place, the rest was up to Khaibar.

It wasn’t easy. “For a long time, I was very sleepless.” He worked an overnight, eight-hour shift as a security guard, getting off at 7 am. He got about two to three hours of sleep, and then he woke up to help his family get their day started, driving them to appointments and running errands. On a good day, he would catch an extra hour or two of sleep before heading off to class, and somewhere in between, he managed to stay caught up with his homework.

“If I were by myself, I wouldn’t have been able to complete my goal. Capital IDEA advisors gave me the hope that I wasn’t alone.”

The sleeplessness paid off. Khaibar graduated with his Associate’s Degree in Computer Aided Design(CAD) – Civil Specialization, from Austin Community College. “Now I sleep eight hours every night!” He landed a job at Bleyl Engineering and is working towards his Master’s Degree at the University of Texas in San Antonio. His new job affords him the ability to provide for his family financially, and his new sleep schedule allows him to be less tired and more present for them.

Starting over wasn’t easy for Khaibar. When asked what was most meaningful about the support he received from Capital IDEA, he responded: “If I were by myself, I wouldn’t have been able to complete my goal. Capital IDEA advisors gave me the hope that I wasn’t alone. They helped me, and they called to check on me. No matter how difficult it got, I knew I wasn’t alone.”

Are you starting over? You don’t need to do it alone. With the support from Capital IDEA you can overcome the obstacles preventing you from earning your degree and getting the job you’ve always wanted. Sign up for an info session today.

To apply, sign up for an info session: CareerUp »
For questions: 512-457-8610 or outreach@capitalidea.org
Quick links: Qualifications | Career Directory | FAQs


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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 to invest so much time and money in education when there’s a big question hanging in the air – will this degree get me a job? This is why Capital IDEA is incredibly particular about the degree programs we support. A new career only makes it onto our list when we know who the employers are, we’ve verified there is demand across the Central Texas region, and we’ve confirmed which degree programs or training options most reliably lead to employment. And to further increase the odds of our students finding a living wage job, we offer career placement services.

“I am grateful for the two internships I did while I was with Capital IDEA. It exposed me to professional work environments, and I had a job offer before I even graduated.”

– Jason Lopez
Graduate Spotlight: Be Your Own Hero

Career Placement Support

Career placement services at Capital IDEA provide an advantage to our students. Senior Employment Coordinator, Ron Modesty, assists graduates and soon-to-be graduates by developing their job search skills and creating a winning strategy. These skills include sharpening their resumes and cover letters, preparing for interviews, and knowing where to look for jobs. Ron also follows up with graduates to see if they’ve secured work, and if they haven’t, he provides important feedback to increase their chances of landing the job at their next interview.

In addition to the job search process, our career placement services also help our Information Technology (IT) students secure internships with valuable employer partners. Ron establishes partnerships with companies in the area, like Travis County and VISA, and secures internship slots for Capital IDEA IT students. These internships provide a tremendous advantage to students as it gives them on-the-job experience, and some are offered to stay on as full-time employees with those companies after their internship is over.

Our mission is to get our Central Texas neighbors into great careers. For us, getting a degree is only part of the process. That’s why our support extends past graduation all the way to their first placement and the start of an exciting career.

Meet The Staff

Ron Modesty, Sr. Employer Coordinator


Q: What is your role at Capital IDEA?
A: I perform all of the Career Placement services offered by Capital IDEA, including placing interns and forming partnerships with employers, but most of my time is spent preparing graduates to conduct professional job searches. I usually meet with our students between their last two semesters, and during their last semester, I have them complete a checklist of crucial items to find the job they want. I then help them to get started with their job searches. I like to think that I am not just preparing our graduates for their first job search but giving them the tools to do job searches for the rest of their working careers.

Q: What is your favorite quote?
A: The great Ann Landers once said: “Opportunities are usually disguised as hard work, so most people don’t recognize them.”

Q: What is a fun fact your students usually learn about you in the first semester or year?
A: I love my job and have been with Capital IDEA for 22 years. And when I need to relax, you’ll find me on the greens, because I also love to golf. My favorite golf quote is: “They call it golf because all the other four-letter words were taken!”

Our support doesn’t end when you get the degree. We want you to find the job you’ve worked so hard for. If this is the type of support you want, sign up for an info session to get started.

To apply, sign up for an info session: CareerUp »
For questions: 512-457-8610 or outreach@capitalidea.org
Quick links: Qualifications | Career Directory | FAQs


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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 support they provide.

“My Navigator never gave up on me. She kept calling me. At one point, I was out for a whole year, and if it weren’t for her, I probably would have never come back.”

– Juana Patino
Graduate Spotlight: One Family, Three Degrees, and Counting

Career Navigators

Every student in the Career Expressway has a unique set of challenges that they must overcome to get their degree and enter the professional workforce. For all, there is a financial barrier. For others, that’s combined with being a parent, or having a language barrier. And for some, it may be a confidence issue. To help them face their challenges, every student gets assigned a Career Navigator.

Similar to school counselors, Career Navigators advise students on coursework and provide resources to help with academic struggles. But our Career Navigators also go beyond the academic. Personal struggles can affect a student’s performance in school. That’s why a Career Navigator’s role in the Career Expressway program is so important. When a student informs their Navigator about a personal issue that could affect their academic goals, they search for ways to help that student. By providing support in this manner, they are able to help a student overcome obstacles that could prevent that student from getting their degree.

Career Navigators have helped so many of our students keep up with their classes and push through to graduation. Even when a student must step away from college due to personal reasons, Navigators stay the course and encourage individuals to come back to finish their degree. With this type of support, we’ve had tremendous success in helping individuals achieve their academic dreams.

Meet The Navigators

Theresa Soto, Career Navigator


Q: What is your role at Capital IDEA?
A: I am a Career Navigator who assists students in IT, CAD, and Trades (A/C, Heating, Automotive, Electronics Technician, Advanced Manufacturing, Solar, and the unions).

Q: What is your favorite quote?
A: I have a personal philosophy that I strive to live by: Carpe Diem, Seize the Day!

Q: What is a fun fact your students usually learn about you in the first semester or year?
A: I am a huge sports fan! My favorite time of year is football season in Fall and baseball season in the Spring! Oh, and I also love boxing and UFC.

Elida Guardia Bonet, Career Navigator


Q: What is your role at Capital IDEA?
A: I am a Career Navigator who assists students in College Prep and various Healthcare career tracks.

Q: What is your favorite quote?
A: I tell all my students to believe in themselves and be persistent. To take one day at a time. And then I share this quote with them: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” -Lao Tzu

Q: What is a fun fact your students usually learn about you in the first semester or year?
A: I am a storyteller and a writer. And most recently I managed to take advantage of this COVID situation to get into mosaics! It’s something I had been wanting to do just never found the time to do it. And I love it!

Sara Hernandez, Career Navigator


Q: What is your role at Capital IDEA?
A: I am a Career Navigator who assists students in all of the Healthcare careers we support.

Q: What is your favorite quote?
A: I like to tell students that when difficult times arise you have the NO with you, now go for the YES! Ask for, look for, work for, and imagine the YES with you. Then GO and make it happen.

Q: What is a fun fact your students usually learn about you in the first semester or year?
A: My accent is usually one of the first things students notice, so I tell them: I do not think with an accent. It is a part of me, and you will get used to it.

Lia Paschal, Career Navigator


Q: What is your role at Capital IDEA?
A: I am a Career Navigator who assists students in Healthcare careers.

Q: What is your favorite quote?
A: I usually tell students: Don’t try to control the uncontrollable.

Sister Ane Nguyen, Career Navigator


Q: What is your role at Capital IDEA?
A: I am a Career Navigator who assists students in the ADN, ADN Mobility Track, and LVN Programs. Currently, I have 60 students I am responsible for.

Q: What is your favorite quote?
A: It’s not so much a quote but a motto: Be open to learning new things and take a risk. Never give up and seek help when needed. None of us is an island.

Q: What is a fun fact your students usually learn about you in the first semester or year?
A: I believe you have to love your career and be strong and steady to build a foundation under it. I have been with Capital IDEA for over 22 years and am dedicated to my students. I remember a student of mine that was with me for over 7 years! He just completed this summer, and he is so grateful that I did not give up on him. This is the same dedication that I promise to all my students.

We’re here for you! If you or someone you know has always dreamed of earning a degree but needs support to get there contact us today! We’re ready to help you reach your goals.

To apply, sign up for an info session: CareerUp »
For questions: 512-457-8610 or outreach@capitalidea.org
Quick links: Qualifications | Career Directory | FAQs


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By Jeff Sanchez | SEPTEMBER 17, 2021

Support Spotlight Series

For over 20 years, Capital IDEA has supported thousands of students on their journey toward a college degree and a better job. Every student accepted into the Career Expressway program is supported financially and offered personal guidance because often, money isn’t the only obstacle keeping someone from earning a degree.

In our Support Spotlight series, we are highlighting the different types of support we offer and introducing you to the dedicated staff who provide these vital supports. Today we are highlighting our childcare services and introducing you to our Program Specialist, Rosemary Cavazos.

“To be honest if it wasn’t for Capital IDEA, I wouldn’t be in school right now. There would be no way that I could afford going to school and work part-time, to get a new career. It would be almost impossible on my own to do that. Childcare was a huge factor.”

– Melinda Sertuche
Student Journey: Child Care Doesn’t Need to Hold You Back

Childcare Support

Capital IDEA understands the challenges of going to school as a parent, and that’s why childcare support is a vital component of the Career Expressway program. When a student has childcare in place, they are less likely to miss class and more likely to graduate on time. With over 40% of our students having children under 18 years of age, our commitment to this type of support is crucial to the mission.

Because their children will always come first, setting up childcare support is one of the first steps a new student takes once accepted into our program. We partner with two local Child Care Services (CCS) programs, Workforce Solutions CCS Capital Area and Workforce Solutions CCS Rural Area, to provide support across the ten-county region. We also help our students find the right care for their situation through programs like YMCA’s Extend-a-Care or Boys and Girls Club. And for those that qualify we search out free options like Austin ISD Pre-K or Head Start programs, and Austin Community College’s student childcare scholarship program.

Childcare support has helped so many of our parent students keep up with their classmates and avoid graduation delays. And thanks to our extensive partner network, we are confident we can find a solution for every parent ready to pick up a backpack and become a Career Expressway student.

Meet The Staff

Rosemary Cavazos, Program Specialist


Q: What is your role at Capital IDEA?
A: I assist all Capital IDEA participants with childcare needs. I have a passion for helping families who struggle with the current providers because their children require additional or specialized care to assist with diagnosis or delays in development.

Q: What is your favorite quote?
A: “The place in which I’ll fit will not exist until I make it.” – James Baldwin

Q: What is a fun fact your students usually learn about you in the first semester or year?
A: I know childcare centers very well! I spent almost 20 years working in both private and corporate centers as a director for the facilities, helping them qualify to receive state certifications. I can also relate to our students personally, having started my bachelor’s degree program with four kids, one of them being a newborn. This year I finished my master’s degree while managing a household of five kids, a goat, a pig, two bunnies, and two dogs! I understand what my students are going through, and I’m all in to help them achieve their goals.

We’re here for you! If you or someone you know has aspirations of earning a degree and moving up into a great career, but are concerned about childcare, contact us today! We’re ready to help you reach your goals.

To apply, sign up for an info session: CareerUp »
For questions: 512-457-8610 or outreach@capitalidea.org
Quick links: Qualifications | Career Directory | FAQs


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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 Technical Support Specialist at VISA, he earns enough to cover all of his own living expenses and pay for his upcoming wedding and honeymoon. Once he’s married, his next goal will be to buy a home. So, what changed? How did Skyler go from counting himself out to having the confidence to give college another try?

After high school, Skyler enrolled in college. He knew it was the proverbial next step, but he wasn’t sure what he wanted to study. He’d been a C student at best in high school, and it carried over into his first year in college where poor grades just won’t cut it. “It got to the point where the dean called me in and informed me that if my grades didn’t improve, I would have to leave. So at that point, I thought, ok, well, I guess college isn’t for me.”

For Skyler, it felt like his options were shrinking. If college wasn’t for him, he would have to find the best job open to him without a college degree. Then, hopefully, he’d still be able to support himself and the future family he knew he wanted. His first stop was in retail and sales, but it was a bad fit. It didn’t matter if he was on a sales floor or going door-to-door; sales was definitely not for him.

“Capital IDEA provided the guidance, and I didn’t feel like I was alone.”

His next stop was a call center where he provided computer support. At first, it felt right. He loved helping people with computer and networking issues, but the demanding environment coupled with an exhausting call volume was overwhelming, and the stress got to him. The high-pressure customer service roles eroded his vision for his future and left Skyler in a depressed state. “Right before I went into Capital IDEA I was at the lowest point of my life. I remember going into IHOP with my fiancée and looking at the menu, worrying if I could afford anything. I didn’t have a lot of money, and I felt awful that I couldn’t even take my girlfriend out to dinner.”

But Skyler’s journey through the world of unsatisfying jobs had done something important — it had rekindled his joy of working with computers. This was the missing piece that had impeded his first attempt at college. He didn’t know what he wanted to do back then, and the lack of enthusiasm had shown up in his grades. Now Skyler remembered fondly playing with his dad’s old TI 99/4. He was sure he wanted to do something with computers which meant there was no way around it. He would have to give college another try.

The answer for how to pay for college came soon after. “My dad saw Capital IDEA in the newspaper and said, ‘Hey, you should try this.’ At first, I was skeptical. It says they pay for tuition and fees, books, and a parking permit. What’s the catch?” Skyler went to a CareerUp information session where he found out there was no catch. So, he applied and got accepted into the Career Expressway program. It was his second attempt at college, and this time it would be different.

“The first time, I wasn’t really sure of myself. When I finally decided to go back to college, I was older. I knew what career I wanted to pursue, and I had a girlfriend that I wanted to marry.” In addition to having a clear career goal and extra motivation, Skyler also now had the support of Capital IDEA. “Capital IDEA provided the guidance, and I didn’t feel like I was alone. The biggest thing is that they guide you through the whole process and support you through the challenges along the way.”

Skyler reenrolled in classes he’d failed before, but even with a new outlook and a new attitude, the grades didn’t come easy. “I struggled at first with the math classes, but I got a tutor that really helped me through it. Once I got to the classes that interested me, it became easier. When asked what advice he would give to someone who struggles with grades as he did, he said, “Don’t dwell on the negative. Instead, take a step back, see what works and what doesn’t, and seek out tutoring.”

As Skyler continued to grow in his understanding of network administration through his studies and internships, he realized that he could help others with the same struggles. The student community that surrounded him through Capital IDEA allowed him to do just that. “I became like a mentor and helped others with their work. Teaching others helped me understand the concepts better.” Getting to know other students also helped Skyler develop a network of colleagues in the IT world that he continues to benefit from.

“Don’t be so hard on yourself. Find what you’re good at and lean into it.”

With the support of Capital IDEA, the student community, his family, and his fiancée, Skyler graduated from Austin Community College in 2018 with his Associate’s Degree in Network Administration. Since then, he has earned six certificates and started working towards his bachelor’s degree. In the thirteen years that passed between his first attempt at college and his graduation, he went from wondering if he could afford to buy his fiancée anything on an IHOP menu to paying for their wedding, renting his own apartment, and putting a down payment on their honeymoon to Disneyworld. Skyler and his fiancée will be married in March 2022, and their future together is looking bright.

Capital IDEA is invested in the success of every student in the Career Expressway program. In addition to financial support, we provide services and resources to help students like Skyler make the grade and graduate. Skyler went from believing that college wasn’t for him to being less than a year away from his Bachelor’s Degree. He did it, and you can too. As Skyler would say, “Don’t be so hard on yourself. Find what you’re good at and lean into it.” Sign up for a CareerUp info session to learn more about the Career Expressway program.

To apply, sign up for an info session: CareerUp »
For questions: 512-457-8610 or outreach@capitalidea.org
Quick links: Qualifications | Career Directory | FAQs


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JUNE 23, 2021

Viewing note: the video components may take a second to load. The digital format is mobile-friendly, but for the best experience, we recommend viewing full screen on your computer, laptop, or tablet.

The wait is over– Capital IDEA’s 2020 Annual Report is here! And while you may be understandably hesitant to revisit 2020, this multi-media report is full of success stories, powerful lessons learned, and abundant gratitude for our amazing community. None of these achievements would’ve been possible without YOU!

We were blown away by the generosity we received in 2020. Thank you to the donors who helped keep our operations going, the volunteers who gave their time and talent, and the employer partners who offered our graduates a start in their new career. YOU changed lives.

If we were able to achieve all of this in the midst of a pandemic, imagine what we can continue to do together in the days and months ahead.

To apply, sign up for an info session: CareerUp »
For questions: 512-457-8610 or outreach@capitalidea.org
Quick links: Qualifications | Career Directory | FAQs


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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 them as FREE degrees:

  • In demand ☑
    Two years is a significant investment for anyone. We want to make sure that there will be a job available to you when you get the degree. Every career we sponsor has a high probability of securing employment after graduation.
  • Living wage ☑
    What’s the point of getting a degree if it’s not going to pay? Every career we sponsor must have a starting wage that will pay you enough to support yourself, no side job needed.
  • Start Sooner ☑
    A four-year degree can take anywhere from four to six years to complete. With few exceptions, we choose associate degree programs at local community colleges for our students so that they can earn a degree and get into a living-wage career in half that time. After that, they can choose to pursue a four-year degree building on the degree they already earned.
  • Opportunity for Growth ☑
    Every career we sponsor has room for professional growth and the ability to move up the ladder. As you gain more credentials, complete that four-year degree, or expand your skillset, you’ll move up and earn a higher wage.

The Advanced Manufacturing degree at Austin Community College meets the criteria above, and the Austin area has excellent companies looking to hire college graduates for skilled positions right away. We have created a Top 5 List. These local Manufacturing companies have historically been reliable employers of AM graduates, and they provide a livable wage with room for advancement.

OUR TOP 5 LIST:

1. Samsung Austin

Samsung building

Samsung Austin has close to 5,000 employees in Austin and is a leading manufacturer of digital products. Their Austin facility is one of the most advanced semiconductor manufacturing facilities in the world.

2. National Instruments

National Instruments has been around since 1976, is a nationally known brand, and is one of the largest manufacturing companies in the Austin area. They have over 10,000 employees and are always looking for high-performing graduates.

3. Flex

Flex has close to 2,000 employees in Austin and was one of Fortune’s 2021 World’s Most Admired Companies. They specialize in electrical and electronic manufacturing, so AM graduates focusing on electronics are a good fit for them.

4. Applied Materials

Applied Materials boasts the title of #1 provider to the semiconductor industry since 1992. The Austin branch hosts close to 2,000 employees, and a quick search on Indeed.com will show they have current open positions.

5. Tesla

Tesla may be the new kid on the block in Austin, but they are one of the most well-known electrical automobile manufacturers in the world. With the new plant opening in the Austin area, they are currently hiring for many manufacturing positions.

While you can get some manufacturing jobs without a degree or certification, those jobs start out either at minimum wage or slightly above and often have limited opportunity for advancement. With a degree, you’ll enter at a higher level with a career path ahead of you.

If this is the exciting, high-tech career opportunity you’ve been waiting for, then an associate degree is what you need to jump in, start at the right level, and keep climbing. The employers on our Top 5 list are only some of the great companies in the Austin area ready to hire you once you graduate.

Ready to get started? Here are steps you can take right now:

Two easy ways to learn more about Advanced Manufacturing:
Visit our Career Directory: Advanced Manufacturing »
Watch ACC’s video on YouTube: ACC Impact Academy – Manufacturing »

Find out how to get a FREE degree in Advanced Manufacturing:
Quick read overview: Get Your Degree in Advanced Manufacturing »
Sign up now for a Career Expressway info session: CareerUp »

To apply, sign up for an info session: CareerUp »
For questions: 512-457-8610 or outreach@capitalidea.org
Quick links: Qualifications | Career Directory | FAQs


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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, my name is Jason Lopez. With the support of Capital IDEA, I graduated in 2019 from Austin Community College with a degree in LAN Network Administration. I came to college with developed perseverance and a motivation to succeed that I learned from my family. I needed to be a positive change for my family, and it was my responsibility for my future.

I am the only member of my family to attend college. I needed to be an example to my siblings. My parents made many sacrifices for us, and it was my responsibility to take advantage and flourish with the opportunities that I had.

I went to my local public elementary school and during my last year, I got the opportunity to apply to a magnet middle school where I got accepted and took advanced courses that I found exciting. Up until that point, being a part of the magnet program was one of the most challenging academic experiences that I’ve ever gone through.

“Throughout my journey I realized that challenges were simply opportunities to become better than before, this encouraged me a lot.”

After middle school, I applied for a similar magnet high school. Unfortunately, I did not pass my algebra proficiency in the entrance exam, so I had no choice but to continue with a regular public high school. Fortunately, the challenging courses in middle school made high school a lot easier for me.

During my childhood, I saw my parents struggle financially. Even though they are intelligent and hard workers, finding well-paid jobs was not easy because neither completed high school. During my teenage years, to my surprise, my parents divorced, which meant that my siblings and I had to live between two homes. Those experiences increased my resolve to help my family and be an example to others. I wanted to show that even though you did not grow up with the best of circumstances, you can still succeed if you are determined to look for opportunities. I knew education meant a solid foundation for my future. I wanted a growing career with excellent income opportunities. When it came to college, I knew that my parents could not afford to help me financially, so it was going to be up to me to support myself.

I was not following a high school academic track that would make me stand out to college recruiters for potential scholarships. One day in my high school college counselor’s classroom, we had a presentation from a speaker named Daniel Lopez. He was there to share about a good option besides going to a four-year university. He explained how Capital IDEA would pay 100% for tuition, fees, books, and tests for workforce careers that are in demand in our community. I realized that Capital IDEA supports you financially from start to finish, but they also only offer high-demand jobs so you can’t go wrong by picking any of their careers. That solves two of the biggest problems the majority of college graduates face: student debt and getting employed after graduating.

“Being a part of Capital IDEA felt like I had a whole community by my side.”

I listened with even more interest when he said that they even offer paid internship opportunities during your studies! I thought, “what do I stand to lose other than my time?” There was essentially no risk in getting support from Capital IDEA compared to a regular four-year degree so I signed up, and I am so happy and grateful that everything that they promised they would do was true!

James was my Navigator. His guidance helped me navigate through college, registering, signing up for classes, getting internships. Anything administratively was made very easy by Capital IDEA through James. Having a mentor while going through the college experience made me feel comfortable and gave me hope whenever I was going through demanding classes like the required math class I took when I started. It was definitely difficult, but I learned how to manage my time better and that helped me get through it. Once I started taking my career-related classes it got easier, and my interest grew. Throughout my journey I realized that challenges were simply opportunities to become better than before, this encouraged me a lot.

I have always been timid and an introvert. I needed to develop my social skills and connect with peers to succeed in my career. My navigator encouraged me to network, so I did, and I met a lot of like-minded individuals who were after the same career and education as me. My peers were very supportive of each other. Being a part of Capital IDEA felt like I had a whole community by my side.

I am grateful for the two internships I did while I was with Capital IDEA. It exposed me to professional work environments, and I had a job offer before I even graduated. I accepted the job offer and to this day I am an Enterprise Technical Support Specialist for Spectrum Enterprises. I am still studying for additional I.T. certifications to become a Network Engineer for my company.

I am honored to return the favor by mentoring other Capital IDEA students and alumni, and peers at my workplace. I am also graduating this coming semester with a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Network Operations & Security from Western Governors University. I bought my first home at 21, a year after I started working full-time, and have grown my retirement investments since then.

“To this day, I reflect on a T-shirt I received from Capital IDEA when I got started that says ‘Be Your Own Hero’. That is exactly what I did.”

I have deep gratitude to Capital IDEA and donors like the Sooch Foundation who invest in people like me. During my late teenage years, I began reading and listening to financial gurus like Robert Kiyosaki, Dave Ramsey, and Warren Buffet, and going forward, I would like to do what Capital IDEA does but focus on personal finance. I want to mentor and educate others on topics like how to build credit, the importance of investing at a young age, and how to manage debt. Financial education is as essential as a college education and flourishing in both areas is a powerful combination. This is the path out of poverty. To this day, I reflect on a T-shirt I received from Capital IDEA when I got started that says ‘Be Your Own Hero’. That is exactly what I did.


Is it time for you to be your own hero? Contact us and let us help you reach your career goals.

To apply, sign up for an info session: CareerUp »
For questions: 512-457-8610 or outreach@capitalidea.org
Quick links: Qualifications | Career Directory | FAQs


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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 reach safety, but their next goals were more aspirational once that was achieved. Five years later, Alpha’s family arrived in the United States in search of more opportunities. His parents worked hard to provide a better life for them while prioritizing education for him and his siblings. Their continued emphasis on academic achievement has paid off.

“I wanted to be financially independent both for myself and my parents.” Alpha recalls setting this early personal goal and points to it as his motivation for seeking out his own opportunities. As the oldest, he knew that his parents could not afford to send him to college while also caring for his three younger siblings. He would have to find a way himself. Through a family friend, Alpha learned about Capital IDEA and the Career Expressway program. This was the opportunity he was looking for, and he was ready to take advantage of it.

Going to school was overwhelming. Alpha was committed to helping his family financially even while in school. He worked as a nurse aid, but while that provided him with significant experience in the healthcare field, it also complicated matters when figuring out class schedules and finding time to keep up with all of the classwork. In addition, Alpha had the challenge of language and cultural barriers to overcome. Shortly after he arrived in the United States, he started taking English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), which helped, but it felt like there was still a gap. “It was hard for the first year in college, especially when it came to writing papers and doing research for assignments.”

Thankfully, Alpha had the support and guidance of his Capital IDEA Career Navigator, Suzanne Baker. “I enjoyed getting together to assess my progress and was provided helpful hints to get better. The advice and encouragement to keep up the work the closer we got to the end was a big help.” With the support of his family and Capital IDEA, Alpha graduated with his Associate of Applied Science in Nursing from Austin Community College in 2015. But he wasn’t done.

“Education is definitely the way out of low-paying jobs, and I think it is important to pursue it when you have the opportunity to do so.”

After graduation, Alpha’s new goal was to earn a bachelor’s degree. He secured a position with Aveanna Healthcare as a home health nurse while also continuing his education. Four years later, he earned his Bachelor’s in Nursing Science from Texas Tech in 2019. And he’s still not done.

For Alpha and his family, education is essential and the key to upward mobility in life. “Education is definitely the way out of low-paying jobs, and I think it is important to pursue it when you have the opportunity to do so.” He and his parents are incredibly proud of his younger siblings who have all achieved master’s degrees in their respective fields, and now Alpha is hoping to do the same. His goal is to pursue a Master’s in Health Administration. But what comes after that?

For Alpha, achieving one goal is never an end — it’s an opportunity to think bigger. For his next big goal, “I would like to be a part of the decision-making body to help shape health administration and legislature.” Through his exposure to the professional world and his work with Capital IDEA’s Alumni Network, Alpha has come to appreciate the importance of leadership. We look forward to the impact he’ll have as a leader in the healthcare field and the community, and we’ll continue to cheer him on as he reaches for higher and higher goals.

Capital IDEA provides an opportunity for adults to earn a degree that will enable upward mobility for their lives.

To apply, sign up for an info session: CareerUp »
For questions: 512-457-8610 or outreach@capitalidea.org
Quick links: Qualifications | Career Directory | FAQs


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2000+

Capital IDEA students have been placed in new careers

3X

Most graduates TRIPLE their previous earnings

$24/hr

was the average starting wage for all 102 job placements in 2020 including 5 early placements

1196

individuals received direct support from Capital IDEA in 2020

$22M+

has been invested in our students’ tuition and books since Capital IDEA first opened in 1998

Guide Star Gold

News & Events

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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