Good evening, my name is Emely. I’m a senior at Somerville High School and this fall I will be attending Suffolk University as a first-generation Latina with hopes to pursue a major in Public policy and Law Concentration.

To begin, I am the descendant of two incredibly hard-working and extremely admirable Salvadoran parents who immigrated to this country with little to nothing yet were able to give me everything. Education had always been an adamant priority in my household; the privilege of being able to receive an education in this country was always considered a blessing in not only my parent’s eyes but in mine as well. With that being said, when I first heard about Breakthrough, although I was hesitant about the long-term commitment, I knew it was an opportunity I couldn’t miss out on.

Before joining Breakthrough, I knew nothing about college except the fact that one day I’d somehow be attending one. I had no clue where to begin or what the process looked like. So, seeing as I was an eager student looking for opportunities to aid me on my pathway toward success, Breakthrough was exactly what I needed. 

For my first day of Breakthrough summer camp, I remember feeling especially nervous about meeting the students from the other schools but this feeling quickly faded when at 8 in the morning I was welcomed by an abundance of Teacher Advisors shouting “G O O D  M O R N I N G, GOOD MORNING, HEY HEY, GOOD MORNING”. This was just the beginning of the constant cheers that never failed to bring a smile to my face.

Nevertheless, a worry of mine was that the summer camp would be like school 2.0 but I completely underestimated it… in many ways it was superior. I was excited to go learn, socialize with my new friends, and have community meetings where we’d have skits demonstrating our 4 breakthrough spirit checks: effective communication, community membership, creative problem-solving, and persistence. All of these are engraved in my mind and have integrated themselves into many other aspects of my life. I had the opportunity to feel comforted by peers who had similar backgrounds as me and display our diversity on Unity Day, where we shared our identity stories and celebrated our differences! But my favorite memory would be our Camping trips. We made s’mores, learned how to make bracelets, danced, told scary stories, played games, and most importantly took a break from technology to truly enjoy the present moment. All these experiences shaped me to be the dedicated, social, outgoing, and fearless person I am today. 

Additionally, I feel it is only right for me to mention the teaching fellow who truly touched my heart and will forever hold a special place in my heart. My TF Kat, is one of the many amazing Breakthrough teaching fellows who made every summer memorable. She was also my advisor for our advisory time and she always made sure I was okay and that I left with a smile on my face. Kat was a student at Tufts University when I first met her and she was also a first-generation Latina with a determined spirit just like mine and knowing that she was able to succeed, made me feel like I could too. She was always someone I looked up to and could reach out to with any questions, advice, or even a quick check-in. The relationships I made with not only my friends but also my TAs are another one of the many great experiences I gained with Breakthrough.

Moreover, I especially wanted to touch upon Breakthroughs’ continuous support during my high school years. Unfortunately, the pandemic caused an unpleasant transition from middle to high school yet Breakthrough was still there for me. We’d have advisor check-ins, frequent news emails about academic opportunities, and overall a reminder that despite the chaos in the world, there was still the Breakthrough community to fall back on whenever needed. Overall, Breakthrough truly helped me break-through the sense of isolation that I felt during this time and helped me feel a sense of hope and happiness knowing I wasn’t alone. 

Not to mention the amazing support I received when I reached out to Jesenia about a Psychology and Neuroscience camp in Berkeley, California, that I was interested in participating in last summer. Breakthrough then ended up supporting me by financing my trip and ensuring I could partake in that enriching experience. An opportunity that I am forever grateful for and will endlessly be grateful for Breakthrough for making it happen.

I still can’t believe that the once “long-term commitment” is coming to an end. I still can’t believe there won’t be any more time left to sneak into the Breakthrough office to have a quick chat with Dewayne, distracting him as I’d gradually steal some snacks. I still can’t believe there won’t be any more time left to be at the same school as my fellow breakthrough peers. No more time, except a lifetime to be a Breakthrough student. 

Thank You.