Some people are born determined to make a difference. Eva Garza-Nyer, educator, counselor and Breakthrough Central Texas board chair-elect, is such an individual.
With nearly 20 years of experience as an educator and college advisor, Garza-Nyer works one-on-one with students and families attempting to traverse the college-admissions process. She has dedicated herself to Austin’s educational system in numerous ways. Garza-Nyer spent four years working in the president’s office at the University of Texas, has taught at Austin Community College and served as a college counselor in the Austin Independent School District for 13 years. This is where she was introduced to Breakthrough.
Garza-Nyer’s passion for helping teenagers plan for their future led her to establish Texas College Advisor, an education-consulting company that helps families navigate the college-search process. Throughout the years, she has helped increase the number of students who apply, enroll and complete their college education.
“I have seen just how hard it is for far too many students,” Garza-Nyer says. “It can be nearly impossible for students to get the kind of support they need to navigate the complicated path to college, especially for students who are the first in their families to go.”
That’s where Breakthrough Central Texas comes in. For Garza-Nyer and many other Austin-area educators and philanthropists, Breakthrough is the solution to the education inequity facing students in Central Texas. By partnering with students and their families on a 12-year journey from sixth grade through college graduation, Breakthrough Central Texas makes a transformative impact in the lives of students, their families and our entire community.
As the first Hispanic chair-elect of the Breakthrough Central Texas board, Garza-Nyer is paving the way not only for students to obtain hard-sought education, but for community members from diverse backgrounds to get involved.
“Throughout my undergraduate, graduate and professional journey,” Garza-Nyer says, “I struggled to connect with leaders who might fully understand the Mexican American experience, mainly because of the poor representation of this population in higher education and corporate America. There’s an unspoken power that exists when you can see yourself in other successful people.”
Breakthrough Central Texas encourages inclusion and multiplicity among students, staff and supporters. In addition to Garza-Nyer, nine members of the board represent Central Texas’ Latino community. Additionally, nine board members are first-generation college graduates themselves. This diverse representation echoes the organization’s makeup, as 76 percent of students and 30 percent of staff are Hispanic. The single qualifier for Breakthrough students is that they must be the first in their family to earn a college degree.
“Inclusion will always be foundational to what Breakthrough Central Texas is all about,” Garza-Nyer says. “We are paving the way for students to be included in circles society has told them they can’t access. By seeing individuals supporting their goals who look like them, come from similar backgrounds and share culture, we are setting the precedent that everyone deserves to be here. That sense of belonging is one of my biggest hopes for every Breakthrough student.”