AUSTIN, Texas — Friends and family, beaming with pride, filled the Frank Erwin Center Friday to celebrate the 2019 graduates of Austin Community College.

  • ACC students graduated on Friday
  • Community college is economic engine for communities
  • 90 – 95% of ACC graduates remain in Central Texas

It’s a moment Shermay Uwalogho spent four years working for.  

“It was a hard, hard hill to climb, but I got over it, and I’m here at the top of the mountain now,” said Uwalogho.

She's the first in her family to graduate college.

“Being a first generation graduate, they’re just over-ecstatic. I have my mom, my grandparents, I have cousins, I have people messaging me out of nowhere telling me congratulations. It’s just a warm and exciting feeling for my family in general and myself.” said Uwalogho.

Uwalogho worked part-time to support herself, and carried a full class load each semester.

“It would’ve been easier just to give up,” she said. “But I didn’t give up and so that’s why I’m proud of myself. My family is proud that I continued to go and they’re really excited to see me keep going further.”

Uwalogho has her sights set on a career in IT Applications and Computer Science.

She credits the support from her teachers for preparing her for this next step, and says many of them knew her by name.

“I feel like if I was at a bigger university I would probably just be a student there. But every campus that I took classes at, I feel like staff there really were interested in my story and really interested in seeing me walk across the stage today,” Uwalogho said.

Stories like hers are why Richard Rhodes believes in community college.

“Community college is the economic engine for communities. It is the center of a regional ecosystem that provides opportunity for everybody,” said Richard Rhodes, President of Austin Community College, “90 to 95 percent of our students or graduates stay here in Central Texas, and they give back to their communities, so that’s the important thing. Give them the opportunity to make a good living, to provide for their families, and to give back to their communities.”

“Being able to have affordable education is very key, because it’s just helping the world be better,” said Uwalogho.