Supporting Dreams in the St. Elmo Neighborhood

July 14, 2016 | Posted in Education |

Jacky Quezada is working hard to shape her own destiny. The 19-year-old sophomore at Texas State University is the first in her family to attend college and serves as a role model for her younger brother and sister. Jackie and her family moved to our Sierra Ridge community in the St. Elmo neighborhood the summer before her 5th grade year, and her mom and siblings still live there. Finding Foundation Communities changed the lives of everyone in the family by offering an affordable, stable home. Jacky credits the move with helping all of them envision a brighter future.

“It’s an incredibly positive environment, with a lot of resources,” Jacky said about living at Sierra Ridge. “It defi­nitely changed the way we look at things.”

Jacky’s parents split up when she was young and her mother had to work long hours as a nanny and cleaning houses to support her three children. When her mother was at work, Jacky took care of her younger siblings – feeding them, bathing them and putting them to bed. She had to grow up very fast.

When they moved to Sierra Ridge, Jacky and her siblings discovered a support system at the on-site Community Learning Center where they attended our after-school and summer learning programs. Jacky said going to the Learning Center made it easier for her to make friends at St. Elmo Elementary since about half of the school’s students live at our Sierra Ridge or Sierra Vista communities. She also discovered that the Learning Center staff‑ provided encouragement and assistance whenever she needed it, including when she was applying for college.

“The staff‑ helped me through the whole college application process, like proofreading my essays, and making sure I was on track,” Jacky said.

Thinking of others and wanting the best for them is second nature to Jacky, who served as a Learning Center volunteer and continues to mentor her siblings. Jacky’s brother will be a freshman at Texas A&M in the fall and her sister is not too far behind.

The support and guidance Jacky received at Sierra Ridge exemplifies­ the importance of our e‑fforts in the St. Elmo neighborhood. With Sierra Ridge and Sierra Vista directly across the street from each other, we have had the unique opportunity to help uplift an entire neighborhood of parents and students. Our goal is to provide families with a pipeline of support from pre-k to college and beyond.

For now, Jacky is soaking up her time as an independent ­ first-generation college student. She is majoring in business with a minor in fashion merchandising and hopes to attend graduate school and, one day, be her own boss. She said others who will be the ­first in their families to go to college should remember to set goals and stay positive.

“Don’t doubt yourself, don’t be afraid to ask questions, and keep working hard,” Jacky said.