SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio on Wednesday kicked off Destination College Week, a nine-day effort aimed at getting students interested in college.
Education, a priority in SA2020 vision, the fifth-annual event provides college resources for parents and students and promotes a dream that is a family first for many.
The four-person panel of prospective and current post-secondary students speaking at a breakfast Wednesday morning at Sunset Station said a higher education was certain growing up.
Rocio Alvarado, a 20-year-old senior at the University of Texas at San Antonio, said it took some convincing on her part to attend college.
"Because my parents didn't attend college, no one in my family did," Alvarado said to a crowd of 100 members of the San Antonio education workforce.
Born in Mexico, Alvarado said her father barely went to elementary school and her mother sews in a factory. With her dad now gone, she had to convince her mother to let her leave home.
"She kind of understood like, 'OK we worked this hard. Like, now, it's time for me to go to college and not work as hard,'" Alvarado said.
The goal of the panel was to pump up the crowd to help other kids do the same.
"Because it hits home, being that at home college was never talked (about)," Rosie Zapata, of UT Outreach San Antonio, said.
"This week is important, because we're able to bring that synergy and build that momentum to really focus on celebrating the students and celebrate that college-going culture," Adriana Contreras, executive director of San Antonio Education Partnership, said.
Destination College Week involves 20 organization working together to celebrate post-secondary success.
Growing from serving 150 students in 2012 to more than 3,000 in 2016, organizers said 50 percent of the kids are the first in their family to get a higher education.
The week includes an all-day career summit and ends with San Antonio's own College Signing Day, where students announce their future education plans and pledge to graduate.
It's part of the city's goal to have 80 percent of high school graduates moving on to a post-secondary education.
"We're producing one student for every 10 IT jobs, one student for every two health care and vital science jobs, so we clearly need students to go beyond high school," SA 2020 president and CEO Molly Cox said.
Now convinced, Alvarado said her mother is proud of her.
"She didn't see this coming. Like she knew this is what she brought me here for, but she didn't know it was going to be my dream as well," Alvarado said.