SAN ANTONIO — It's graduation season and SAISD has thousands of seniors heading off to college.
As a gift, the SAISD Foundation is presenting them with luggage. They need your help getting a bag to each graduate.
A luggage drive is being held at the Alamo Convocation Center Friday, May 24th from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
The travel bags will be gifted to graduating at an event later this month.
"We thought it'd be a fun and easy way for folks to get involved in this powerful work of helping more and more of our students head off to college," said Judy Geelhoed with the SAISD Foundation.
Several seniors at Travis Early College High School are excited to share their fall plans.
Nikol Garcia is headed to Notre Dame University.
"I really liked their program, they had the major that I was interested in. In addition to that, the community that they create, not just like, on campus, but also like their Alumni Association, it just made me be really excited about the institution," said Garcia.
She is one of the 2019 Quest Bridge Scholarship recipients.
Garcia plans to study chemical engineering and is the first in her family to go to college.
"They definitely very proud and excited for what I'll be able to do in the future," said Garcia.
She credits the college advisors at Travis ECHS for helping her meet the crucial deadlines.
"I really had no idea of what steps I should take or how the process should look,” said Garcia. “I really depended a lot on my counselors in being able to guide me and what I should be doing."
Her college bound advisor, Myra Fuentes, says she's not the only one helping Garcia find success.
"We are very appreciative of the community coming together to support our students in the way that they have,” said Fuentes. “The one piece of that is helping get them prepared for those travel expenses and experiences that they'll be having."
Camille Barrera-Austin, another Travis ECHS senior says knowing the SAISD Foundation put together the luggage drive for her class really touches her heart.
"It's a very useful gift because luggage is very expensive,” said Barrera-Austin. “For all the traveling that we're going to have to be doing from going from our colleges to home, it's going to come in handy."
The teen is moving all the way to Chicago for school. She’ll study Neuroscience at DePaul University. Barrera-Austin’s family encourages education. Her mom started an undergraduate degree but wasn't able to finish. Her sister paved the way, graduating from Texas A&M in 2017. She has learned for herself that education leads to some incredible opportunities.
“Going on the Valero [college tour] trip and being able to attend camps at Duke University. I don't think I would have been able to do that if I wasn't here [at Travis ECHS] or getting the education that I have gotten," said Barrera-Austin.
Another classmate is also making a cross-country move. Carlos Montelongo is ready for sunny California. He's heading to Claremont McKenna College to study Economics Accounting. Montelongo is excited to explore a new place.
"[I’m excited for] the weather, and just the environment over there,” said Montelongo. “Everyone's real open to new ideas and I'm open to new ideas as well. So I can't wait to hear from different perspectives."
Montelongo is also the first in his family to attend college. His parents, teachers and counselors are cheering him to graduation.
"Many of the students at SAISD are first generation and they're looking to change not only their own lives but that of their families, and really of their generation,” said Fuentes. “The students are super pumped and they're excited to go off to their different schools and several of them are deciding to go out of state and those are our pioneers."
While the seniors gather everything they'll need for their first year, the SAISD Foundation is hoping to help ease the stress and cost of heading off to college by providing luggage for their big move. Montelongo says the gesture is the cherry on top of his SAISD experience.
"[Travis ECHS] really did provide me with something different,” said Montelongo. I got to see both college and high school at the same time and just learned a lot from the different teachers I've had."
Travis ECHS has 93 seniors preparing to graduate in a few weeks. So far the class has pulled in $10 million in scholarships. The total continues to climb.