HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Countless families on Houston's southeast side can point to an organization that has helped them reach their goals in hard times. The Association for the Advancement of Mexican Americans, also known as AAMA, is celebrating 50 years of serving the Hispanic community through workforce development, substance abuse counseling, and education.
The organization has some of its greatest impact through George I. Sanchez Charter School. Aurora Diaz, a former student, credits her time at the school with helping her succeed at the University of Houston.
"Once I left here, I went head-on as a full time student. That's when I got pregnant," said Diaz. "My mom at that moment, was like, 'Go to school, I'll watch him. You're in school and he's taken care of.' She really wanted me to finish."
Aurora says the skills she first learned at Sanchez helped her through a 7-year journey to a college degree.
"I finally made it. You know again, first generation student here, and that's what our families come for. They want better for your children. My mom immigrated from Mexico, and that's the goal in the end. For your children to do better. My mom is so proud of me, that makes me really emotional," said Diaz.
Matthew Rosas, an administrator and lead counselor, works with students, like Diaz, from Latino families facing challenges.
"We have caring teachers. We have passionate administrators. We have a school community and AAMA support services that are offered to students and their families," said Rosas. "We have students that have come back as teachers. We have students that have moved on as engineers."
Diaz said the staff's understanding and appreciation for the Latino culture can make a difference.
"The fact that there are staff here that speak Spanish, that understand their culture, their heritage, and are able to talk to them about that, the more comfortable they are to ask questions and the better they are to serve their student," said Rosas.
Diaz said she is looking forward to college graduation, and beyond that.
"I'm just gonna be so happy, and I know my family is gonna be so happy, and it doesn't stop there," she said. "It's what's next, what am I going to do next?"
Diaz is set to graduate with a degree in human development and family studies with a minor in education. She said she hopes to use her degree to teach.
The AAMA Gala is Saturday, Dec. 11. Folks can find more information on the AAMA website.