Helina – Student, Class of 2018 and Teaching Fellow, 2020. Sharing Helina’s remarks given virtually to students and Teaching Fellows at the culminating 2020 Celebration event.


Breakthrough has always been home to me. And no, I’m not talking about a physical house. It’s been what I always thought a home should be. I’m going to lay it out for you, one brick at a time.

It can’t be a house without having a foundation, right? Breakthrough’s strong foundation has helped me find my own. It’s where I figured out my college major. A random elective course I took here during my summer as a 7th grader would lead me to do a 4-year computer science program at Cambridge Rindge & Latin School. It’s where I learned to come out of my shell and go from hating public speaking to down-right living for it.

So, whoever designed the blueprint of this house is really something, because the integrity of this building is looking positively marvelous so far. I mean, if Zoom can’t topple it could anything really?

Now we are going to get to the walls, like the equity and education architects we are. Except Breakthrough doesn’t only have walls, it has pillars. Four to be exact: persistence, effective communication, creative problem-solving, and community membership.

We are taught, as members of this program, to use our minds and our hearts in everything we do, push ourselves and be okay with falling down at times, and, most importantly, how and where to get help.

Let’s talk about the roof now. Breakthrough pushes us as students and as people to drive for success. That success is unique though. It’s not all about GPAs, even though that is important too. This program consists of The Poetry Club that our students spit bars and verses in, the discussions about race, class, isms, and phobias that we talk about during advisory, and for me, the nerdy hackathons I was encouraged to do as a high schooler and the cool K-pop Club choreography I did last year as a Teaching Fellow.

I’ve been a part of so many programs, whether they were tech related, cultural, super challenging, or meant to be comforting – and nothing has ever compared to Breakthrough. I might be a teeny, tiny bit biased since they have had me since I was 13 years old, but, I know that Breakthrough has changed my life in ways I’ll never be able to adequately articulate.

My final thoughts on Breakthrough being a home are simply this: in no way shape or form, am I saying that I or any other individual for that matter built this home from the ground up, but I do feel like part of its charm is that each teacher, student, and staff member tossed in a window pane or two. To conclude my argument in the most ELA and teacher-way possible, I’ll leave you all with this: Breakthrough might be located in a high school building, but it’s always been a home to me.

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