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MILWAUKEE, WI (TMJ4, Channel 4 News) -
Every single student graduating from one local high school this Friday, is the first in their family to go to college. All of them have been accepted into four-year universities.
"This is a new opportunity to become independent and grow as a person," said Rogacianao Lopez. "I plan to become a graphic designer and eventually open up my own design company in Milwaukee. It feels amazing to have reached this point."
All 85 graduating seniors at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in West Milwaukee are going on to college, and they are all the first in their families to do so. They are also the first graduating class at Cristo Rey, which opened four years ago.
"Being the founding class is a great honor," said Angie Sandoval.
The school is part of a national model, in which freshmen through seniors, get matched with different companies and go do professional, entry level work one day a week. High School tuition is paid by those companies and community donations.
"I'm super grateful those companies opened their doors to us," said Jacqueline Magana. "Especially the first year. It says a lot about these companies, and people who welcomed us with open arms. I'm so glad they took the risk, and I thank them a lot."
The risk is nothing compared to the reward, as Magana proves. She earned a full ride to Marquette University.
"I was blown away," she said. "I couldn't believe it. Most of us come from families that don't get opportunities like this."
Classmate Angie Sandoval earned a full-ride to UW-Madison, and paid summer internship at Johnson Controls, the company she was matched with at Cristo Rey.
"It's like we're not only fulfilling our dreams but also the dreams of our parents and relatives," Sandoval said. "They're so excited and proud that I'm setting an example for my siblings.I couldn't have done this without this program."
The President of Cristo Rey, Andrew Stith, says this is the result he dreamed of when the school opened four years ago. He also says it's a true celebration of what Milwaukee can achieve when it comes together to support young people.