88 Corpus Christi students are the first in their family to receive a diploma

The Corpus Christi Education Foundation hosted the Corpus Christi ISD’s First in Family graduation Thursday to honor 88 students who became the first in their family to graduate from high school.

CCISD Superintendent Roland Hernandez greeted the students and their families as the event kicked off at Veterans Memorial High School. As part of the recognition, each student was given a medal to wear during graduation to indicate that the students were the first in their family to graduate.

“Students, this is an honor for all of your family and we are so proud of you,” said Hernandez.

Harold T. Branch Academy's Araceli Nava speaks during the Corpus Christi Independent School District's 14th annual graduation ceremony at Veterans Memorial High School on Thursday, May 6, 2021.

Araceli Nava, a senior at Harold T. Branch Academy, said growing up in a migrant household gave her character.

“They had to work very hard to make it to another country that wasn’t their home,” Nava said of her parents, who are immigrants from Mexico. “As long as I can remember, I have encountered many obstacles and challenges. One of them was my language barrier.

“Even though it didn’t take long to learn English, I still have a hard time. Despite the challenges, I managed to overcome them.”

Leanne Libby, director of communications for CCISD, called out the names of each student to take the stage in the high school auditorium. On stage, students could punch school board members Alice Upshaw-Hawkins, Dolly Gonzales Trolley and Janie Bell with their fists and receive their medals.

Hernandez once again congratulated the students and said they are building a legacy for their families and the community.

The Corpus Christi Independent School District held its 14th annual family graduation ceremony for the first time in the family on Thursday, May 6, 2021 at the Veterans Memorial High School Auditorium.

“You are showing your younger siblings and students in our area how to make education a priority, even in the most difficult of circumstances,” said Hernandez. “We salute you and admire you for your dedication to graduation from high school.”

Fifteen of the students were also selected to receive a US $ 1,000 scholarship provided by the CITGO Corpus Christi Refinery.

Every student had the opportunity to apply for a scholarship. Recipients were selected based on their academic performance, school and community involvement, financial needs, and an essay explaining what it means to be the first graduate in their family.

Nava was one of the recipients.

Others were Isaiah Arriaga of Carroll High School; Arianna Martinez of Solomon Coles High School; Amy Cervantes, Jorge Ortiz, Joselin Perez-Torres, and Triston Ross of Collegiate High School; Jazlynn Moya and Neriah Ramos from King High School; Rockayla Bernal and Deznaryah Quintero from Miller High School; Alexis Delarosa and Genesis Salas from Moody High School; Madeline De La Garza from Ray High School; and Daylan Pena of Veterans Memorial High School.

Corpus Christi Independent School District held its 14th annual family graduation ceremony for the first time in the family on Thursday, May 6, 2021 at the Veterans Memorial High School Auditorium.

Arriaga said he wrote his essay about his mother, Pamela Perez, who became a single mother. His father died when Arriaga was a few months old. He said his mother raised him and his brother all by herself.

“Through it all, she always made sure we had what we needed and made sure our training was our top priority,” said Arriaga. “Unfortunately, she was pregnant with me during her school days so she couldn’t graduate because she was more focused on me.

“I’m just doing it honestly for her to make sure I will help her financially in the future and have her health in my hands.”

Perez said with tears in his eyes that it means a lot to her when he graduates.

“He’s been through a lot and makes me proud,” said Perez. “He achieves everything he does, is up to date all the time, always gives everything and he deserves it. He definitely deserves it.”

Arriaga will attend the University of Texas at Austin for a degree in education. He hopes to become a teacher and one day headmaster.

“I’ve always had teachers to look up to and they have helped me navigate where I need to be best,” said Arriaga. “If I can do this to another child, it would be amazing to me.”

FIRST IN FAMILY DEAL

  • Araceli Nava, Harold T. Branch Academy
  • Marlyn Alvarado, Mary Carroll High School
  • Isaiah Arriaga, Mary Carroll High School
  • Jason Castro of Mary Carroll High School
  • Adriyanna Garcia, Mary Carroll High School
  • Raul Garcia, Mary Carroll High School
  • Chloe Gougen, Mary Carroll High School
  • Lienesha James, Mary Carroll High School
  • Kyrstin Leal, Mary Carroll High School
  • Savannah McMullin, Mary Carroll High School
  • Sabrina Phung, Mary Carroll High School
  • Tianna Plain, Mary Carroll High School
  • Jessica Queen, Mary Carroll High School
  • Tristan Rodriguez, Mary Carroll High School
  • Arnold Salinas, Mary Carroll High School
  • Tyson Sayles, Mary Carroll High School
  • Robert Solis, Mary Carroll High School
  • Angeleena Davila, Solomon M. Coles High School
  • Khianna Garcia, Solomon M. Coles High School
  • Vivianna Garcia of Solomon M. Coles High School
  • Alejandro Garza, Solomon M. Coles High School
  • Melanie Gauna, Solomon M. Coles High School
  • Joseph Lazo, Solomon M. Coles High School
  • Isaiah Lopez, Solomon M. Coles High School
  • Arianna Martinez, Solomon M. Coles High School
  • Sheyla Mata-Zamora of Solomon M. Coles High School
  • Bethi-Ana Moreno, Solomon M. Coles High School
  • Brandon Rodriguez, Solomon M. Coles High School
  • America Soliz, Solomon M. Coles High School
  • Destiny Villamar, Solomon M. Coles High School
  • Sara York, Solomon M. Coles High School
  • Amy Cervantes, Collegiate High School
  • Shameka Cobb, Collegiate High School
  • Cassandra Hernandez, Collegiate High School
  • Jorge Ortiz, Collegiate High School
  • Joselin Perez-Torres, Collegiate High School
  • Crystal Posada-Salazar, Collegiate High School
  • Triston Ross, Collegiate High School
  • Marianna Fernandez, Richard King High School
  • Alexis Jones, Richard King High School
  • Alexis Miller, Richard King High School
  • Clarissa Morgan, Richard King High School
  • Jazlynn Moya, Richard King High School
  • Neriah Ramos, Richard King High School
  • Angelina Sosa-Barrios of Richard King High School
  • Daniel Balboa, Roy Miller High School
  • Rockayla Bernal, Roy Miller High School
  • Juan Castro-Sanchez, Roy Miller High School
  • Faustino Jalomo, Roy Miller High School
  • Jose Garcia, Roy Miller High School
  • Isabelle Garcia of Roy Miller High School
  • John Gonzales, Roy Miller High School
  • Jasmine Guerrero from Roy Miller High School
  • Jesus Macias, Roy Miller High School
  • Elainey Maldonado, Roy Miller High School
  • Nikoli Martinez, Roy Miller High School
  • Ramiro Martinez, Roy Miller High School
  • Nathan Mata of Roy Miller High School
  • Ernesto Mejia, Roy Miller High School
  • Deznaryah Quintero, Roy Miller High School
  • Jamie Rosalez, Roy Miller High School
  • Julyette Saldana, Roy Miller High School
  • Jose Seballez III, Roy Miller High School
  • Mario Salinas Jr., Roy Miller High School
  • Ry’Che Simmons, Roy Miller High School
  • Alexis Delarosa, Foy H. Moody High School
  • Ashley Flores, Foy H. Moody High School
  • Haylee Hernandez, Foy H. Moody High School
  • Juan Rocha, Foy H. Moody High School
  • Genesis Salas, Foy H. Moody High School
  • Jesus Vargas, Foy H. Moody High School
  • Alquince Walker, Foy H. Moody High School
  • Hannah Brady of WB Ray High School
  • Justin Cantu from WB Ray High School
  • David Chavez of WB Ray High School
  • Anelys Cruz from WB Ray High School
  • Madeline De La Garza of WB Ray High School
  • Ricardo Horta from WB Ray High School
  • Jessette Morales of WB Ray High School
  • Jesus Nunez, WB Ray High School
  • Emily Rivas of WB Ray High School
  • Sierra Soto, WB Ray High School
  • Roland Lemos, Veterans Memorial High School
  • Mia Medina, Veterans Memorial High School
  • Daylan Pena, Veterans Memorial High School
  • Paige Green, Veterans Memorial High School
  • Carol Ruiz, Veterans Memorial High School
  • Michael Scott, Veterans Memorial High School

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John Oliva covers education and community news in South Texas. Consider supporting local journalism with a subscription to the Caller-Times.