Karla Acevedo: First-Gen Voices

Karla came to America with her mother and two brothers from the Dominican Republic when she was four years old. Her mother worked long hours to support her children, all while learning English.

All of her mother’s hard work provided motivation for Karla to finish high school. “I was on a mission. I knew that I needed to graduate. I knew I wanted to make my mom proud, I didn’t want all of her sacrifices to go to waste.”

Karla was one of 30 scholarship students at her private high school in Boston. However, she was one of only five of those original 30 students that ended up graduating — unfortunately an all-too-common statistic as many schools lack the resources or expertise to properly support and encourage low-income and first-gen students.

Karla’s high school counselors even discouraged her from applying to schools like Boston College, because they did not think she would get in. Karla’s response to that was “being the Summer Searcher that I am, I’m going to apply anyway.”

So she did… AND SHE GOT IN WITH A FULL RIDE! And in 2008, she earned her bachelor’s degree from Boston College, before going on to get a Masters in Public Administration from another “BC,” Baruch College.

In between all of that, Karla has been a role model in her family, providing mentoring support to her brother to help him finish high school, and making her mother proud.

Since completing her impressive education, Karla continues to lead as a vocal and visible example of first-gen success.

She followed her passion to Washington, DC and now works for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI), an organization that inspires young Latinos to work in government and policy.

She is also working to become a motivational speaker, and as you can see from her exuberant personality on display in the video (above) about her journey from Summer Search Boston’s Leadership Dinner, she has no trouble sharing her story!