AUSTIN (KXAN) — For many students, going to college is only a dream, but a local nonprofit is working hard to make those dreams come true.

Breakthrough Central Texas works to help create a path to, and through, college for students who will become the first in their families to earn a college degree.

“Will I be able to get there?” said Stevie Martinez-Farias as she remembered how she pondered college back in sixth grade. “The odds are stacked up against me.”

Martinez-Farias set a goal in middle school to be the first college graduate in her family.

“My parents came to the US and they worked really hard and pushed to give me and my younger sibling the future that we deserve,” Martinez-Farias said.

She wanted to make sure her parents’ sacrifice for a better life didn’t go to waste.

“Being a first-year college student is a source of extreme pride,” said Michael Griffith, executive director of Breakthrough Central Texas. “We are currently serving more than 2,300 students.”

The organization offers advising, counseling and financial assistance to make sure there are no barriers holding the students back.

“They were able to be the supporters in my corner,” Martinez-Farias said.

She set her goal years ago, and in Spring 2021, she graduated from Bennington College in Vermont. She says her favorite memory from the entire process was walking across the stage with her diploma in hand.

“I look out into the crowd and I could see my parents and you could see my mom crying, my dad crying,” she said. “I am getting emotional thinking about it because I did that for them.”

With a degree in anthropology and Latin American studies, she plans to start working with Breakthrough Central Texas to help other kids who also have dreams of obtaining a college degree.

Last year, Breakthrough Central Texas helped 200 students graduate.