While honoring Texas First Lady Cecilia Abbott at the Austin Can Academy Cares for Kids Luncheon, three students—Virginia Gonzalez, Howard Griffin, and Josephine Garcia—gave an emotional speech to more than 150 attendees on how they accomplished one of their lifelong dreams—graduating from high school no matter the circumstances.
“To Austin Can Academy, when it became almost impossible to balance school, caring for my father, and other struggles of life,” said Howard Griffin, a student at Austin Can Academy. “You guys gave me exactly what I needed and for that I am thankful.”
Created in 1976, Texans Can Academy was created by the nonprofit Freedom Ministries in an effort to work with juvenile offenders. Texans Can operates 13 charter schools in Texas and has positively changed the lives of more than 141,000 students.
“I knew I had to get back in school. I didn’t want my adult life to be a repeat of my childhood. I wanted to do better for me, my dad, and my grandma,” said Josephine Garcia, a student of Austin Can Academy. “I wanted to check out Austin Can Academy because I heard they had flexible hours that allowed me to work and go to school. Before coming to Austin Can, I never imagined I would love school at all; let alone this much.”
Austin Can Academy strives to provide the highest quality education for all students, especially those who have struggled in a traditional high school setting, in order to ensure their economic independence. The school’s philosophy is centered on a nurturing environment that empowers reading, personal fulfillment, success, and good citizenship of students.
“This January, a scholarship from Austin Can will help me begin classes at ACC where I will study social work and eventually work for CPS to help children in similar situations like I was in growing up,” said Virginia Gonzalez, a student of Austin Can Academy. “Although the road ahead is not paved in gold and I do not have all the answers to how I will accomplish my dreams, I do know this—because of Austin Can, I am standing here in front of you today as Virginia Gonzalez the graduate, not Virginia Gonzalez the high school dropout.”
Students of Austin Can Academy bravely shared their stories and practiced in the boardroom of the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce. For the past ten years, the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce has advocated for quality education of students and the workforce in the Central Texas region.
“We are extremely proud of students from Austin Can Academy,” said Drew Scheberle, Senior Vice President of Advocacy, Education, and Talent Development. “Despite personal obstacles, these students persevered in completing their education. Their stories are a testament to others that anything is possible when you put your mind to it and is one of the reasons we continue to support educational programming of all forms in this city.”
For more information on the Austin Can Academy, click here.
Blog image: Pictured (left to right) Virginia Gonzalez, student of Austin Can Academy; Nina Winstead of Texans Can Academies; Rachel Castro of Texans Can Academies; and Josephine Garcia, student of Austin Can Academy.
Second image: Pictured (left to right) Zhelun Chen of the Greater Austin Chamber; Howard Griffin, student of Austin Can Academy; Nina Winsted of Texans Can Academy; and Gilbert Zavala of the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce.
Greater Austin Chamber
The Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce focuses on how the Austin Region works. We serve as the voice of business for 2,800 organizations representing a combined workforce of about 330,000 employees throughout Central Texas. Our mission is to provide leadership that facilitates the creation of a prosperous regional economy and effective advocacy for members.