Karily Garcia Cruz has a powerful story – one that embodies courage, dedication and opportunity. 

As an undocumented immigrant, Karily’s family knew the challenges she would face – stereotypes, affordability of college, gender bias and equality of resources. 

As a high schooler, she was just seen as “another student” and had little support from teachers to advocate for her and her future. But that all changed when she joined AVID, a college and career readiness program. AVID, which stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination, is a non-profit that helps schools change students’ lives by encouraging college and career readiness.

“AVID was one of the greatest things that ever happened to me,” she says. “It was definitely a gamer changer. It broke down so many cycles within my family.” 

When Karily decided to pursue a career in education, she knew it had to be in AVID. Now she spends her time doing for students what AVID did for her- giving students the tools to define their own futures. 

Camila Nicole Garcia-Fraguada is a sixth grader at Houston Middle School and is incredibly grateful for Karily’s story that led her to AVID. 

“Ms. Cruz is very special and a great teacher. Knowing that she was an AVID student helps her know how to help us,” Camila says. “Ms. Cruz has helped me get out of my shell and meet new people”

And that’s what has made Karily’s story come full circle. She now stands as the advocate for what she had in high school.