“When I applied to Breakthrough as a 6th grader I would be lying if I said I was aware of the impact that it would have had on my life…The work that Breakthrough put into building me up as a student allowed me to grow as an individual as well. My teachers at Breakthrough have become so deeply embedded in my life that now when I think of who to call when I need advice, I always turn to them,” – Halima, Class of 2023
Good Evening, my name is Halima Osman and I am currently a senior at the Cambridge Rindge and Latin School. Upon my graduation, I will be attending the University of Pennsylvania where I will be studying Health & Societies. Tonight, however, I am here to tell you about my unforgettable experience as a Breakthrough student.
When people ask me “why I chose Breakthrough,” I never know how to respond. I am always stumped on how to put my Breakthrough experience into words. There are so many reasons why Breakthrough has been so impactful to my life that don’t fit neatly into 2 – 3 sentences. However, since Breakthrough decided to give me a mic, for the next couple of minutes I will be talking your ears off about why Breakthrough is so amazing, so buckle up.
As a Black, Muslim who is the daughter of immigrants, I have always felt a lack of connection to the curriculum in which I was learning and the people who were teaching it to me. I always felt like I had to go above and beyond to be seen at the same level as my white peers. And with all that I faced, I didn’t feel confident in my academic ability because I didn’t feel like I belonged in those classrooms. However, when I was in the Breakthrough classrooms with teaching fellows who truly believed in me and looked like me, I started to build that confidence. My teachers would encourage me to speak up in class when I had a question or a comment that I wanted to voice. They encouraged me to use my voice to advocate for myself and gave me the skills that I needed to believe in myself and my abilities. And most importantly they taught me to take ownership over my education. Those same skills that they taught me are part of the reason why I am going to be attending UPenn this coming fall.
When I applied to Breakthrough as a 6th grader I would be lying if I said I was aware of the impact that it would have had on my life. The core memories that I have from my years at Breakthrough have added onto what I like to call the evolution of Halima. The work that Breakthrough put into building me up as a student allowed me to grow as an individual as well. My teachers at Breakthrough have become so deeply embedded in my life that now when I think of who to call when I need advice, I always turn to them. One specific teacher who has made a large impact on my life is Angelique.
I first met Angelique in summer 2018. I was drawn to her because of her intelligence, kindness, and joy. She consistently treated me like a person, not like a child. That really stood out to me – throughout my life adults would dismiss my intelligence because of my age but she didn’t. She uplifted me when I made a mistake or got stuck, and she would guide me to find the right approach to whatever issue I was trying to solve.
The most recent example of this is when she helped me navigate the college application process. Coming from a low income family, money was always a deciding factor in where I decided to go to school. So, when I heard about the Posse scholarship, I immediately started the application process for the program. Despite all the information that was available to me online, I still wanted to hear from someone who had taken part in the experience first hand. I immediately reached out to Angelique to talk to her about the application process, the different schools, and her experience as a Posse Scholar. She stayed up with me answering any and all questions that I had. She helped guide me to figure out the right next step for ME. I can wholeheartedly say that if it wasn’t for Angelique’s advice, I wouldn’t have taken the leap to apply to UPenn.
Thinking about the ways that Angelique has shown up for me over the years brings warmth to my heart. She has been my cheerleader, a shoulder to cry on, and a sounding board for my ideas. The light that she brought to my life is part of the reason why I am going to be a teaching fellow at Breakthrough this summer. The connections that I formed with my former teachers are one’s that I reflect on constantly.
I want to be what Angelique was to me for another student. The impression my teachers made was so impactful that I want to make the same impact on other students. I want to be the person that they know that they can count on to guide them like I know I will always have.
To wrap this all up, I want to thank you all for listening to me about my experiences throughout my years at Breakthrough. The opportunities provided at Breakthrough helped me realize the type of student I can be. That is why with absolute confidence I can say that I would not be the person that I am today without Breakthrough.
Watch a video Halima’s remarks from The Breakthrough Gala, April 27, 2023.