Meet the Exceptional Students Representing NCAN at the White House

June 27, 2016

By Paula Acevedo, Graduate Policy Assistant 

NCAN is proud that 40 of our nonprofit member organizations nominated exceptional students to participate in First Lady Michelle Obama's "Beating the Odds" Summit, which will bring together 129 college-bound 2016 high school graduates from across the country on Tuesday, July 19. The summit will engage students in resource-rich panels and discussions to better prepare them for the academic journeys ahead. 

The students nominated by our member organizations include: two valedictorians, three salutatorians, 11 who graduated at the top 10 percent of their class, 11 who work to help their parents make ends meet, and many who will be first-generation college students and have earned scholarships for their extraordinary hard work at school and in their communities.

Read on for the remarkable stories of two students and one program leader from CollegeCommunityCareer in Houston, selected by NCAN to represent our membership at large at Beating the Odds 2016. 

Thomas Perez just graduated Willowridge High School. He will be attending the University of Texas at San Antonio to major in mechanical engineering. Thomas works hard to help others and grow as an individual. He enjoys giving back and helping those who seek a brighter future. 


Victor Rodriguez just graduated in the top 10 percent of his class from Spring Woods High School in Houston and will attend TexasTech University with plans to major in engineering. Victor's family went through many rough times, including eviction from their apartment. Victor was also involved with a street gang in middle and early high school. Entering 10th grade, Victor made a conscious choice to drop those activities and concentrate on school and going to college. Victor attended early college classes at the local community college, got deeply involved with CollegeCommunityCareer and served on the Teen Leadership Board. Victor had an internship during his senior year of high school and currently serves as an AmeriCorps Summer VISTA associate.  

Both Thomas and Victor received support during high school from CollegeCommunityCareer, a nonprofit organization that encourages a college-going culture among low-income, first-generation high school students and families. 

Kathy Rose founded CollegeCommunityCareer in 2012 and will attend Beating the Odds 2016 with Thomas and Victor.  

Kathy holds a Bachelor of Science in Math and Spanish Education from Texas A&M University, a Master's in Business Administration from the University of St. Thomas and a post-baccalaureate Certificate in College Counseling from UCLA Extension. She began her career as a math teacher at Springs Branch High School. Prior to founding CollegeCommunityCareer, she was the founding Houston Director of College Forward and successfully launched the program into four high schools in east Harris County. 

CollegeCommunityCareer serves as an after-school and out-of-school college success program, working with students starting in 10th grade and throughout college until they graduate with a bachelor's degree. The organization partners with five area high schools (Spring Woods High School, Northbrook High School, Westchester Academy for International Studies in Spring Branch ISD; Benjamon Davis High School in Aldine ISD and Willowridge High School in Fort Bend ISD) to prepare students for college admission and graduation from a four-year school through college success, leadership development, civic engagement and career discovery.

Twenty-nine NCAN member organizations were invited to Beating the Odds 2016 based on the commitments they made to expanding college opportunity at President Obama’s College Opportunity Summit in December 2014. We randomly selected Thomas and Victor from CollegeCommunityCareer to represent the NCAN membership at large at the First Lady’s event. 

NCAN members from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, the College Advising Corps, and uAspire will also be among the presenters sharing valuable information with the students. 

Other NCAN members invited to Beating the Odds 2016:

College Board

College Bound Foundation Baltimore

College Forward

College Possible

College Spring

College Success Foundation

College Summit

College Track


Florida College Access Network

Get Schooled - Supporting Maritime Industries Academy

I Have a Dream Foundation

I Know I Can

Illinois Student Assistance Commission

I'm First

Jack Kent Cooke Foundation

Kresge Foundation

Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance

National College Advising Corps


On Point to College

One Goal

Opportunity Network

Options Center NYC (Goddard Riverside Community Center)

Rutgers Future Scholars




We CAN Newaygo

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