I truly believe I would not be in the position I am today if it had not been for Breakthrough. The profound impact they have had on my life has inspired me to one day create my own nonprofit organization for immigrant students.- Nayeli, Breakthrough Boston Campus class of 2019


I am a senior at Boston Latin Academy and a member of the first class from Breakthrough’s Boston Campus. I have been lucky to spend six years being a part of this amazing program that has contributed to so many wonderful experiences and memories. I remember when I first joined Breakthrough, I was in 6th grade. During that first summer, I made some wonderful friends: we bonded over the heat of classrooms, the challenge of pushing through Shakespeare, and the excitement that we shared for Fridays – we always had a fun activity to do on Fridays like Math Olympics or College Challenge Day. Those friends that I made in that first summer are still here. See, Breakthrough is about more than just academics and investing in your future self; it’s about a community of people who will support and love you even after the six years of programming are over.

I personally have benefitted from Breakthrough tremendously. My freshman year, after transferring to one of the top three most challenging schools in Boston, I remember constantly being upset that I was not able to keep up with the rest of the students in my math class. I reached out to Peter, who worked with 9th and 10th grade students, and he was more than happy to provide me a tutor who would work with me one-on-one to catch up. Soon I was at the same level as my classmates.

But outside of my newfound academic confidence, there was always a fear in the back of my mind. In 2014, a teacher at school had revealed that there was an obstacle to my college dreams: my citizenship status. I am an undocumented student which means that there are tons of things I am not able to do from accessing financial aid for college to participating in opportunities like a paid internship. In the summer before 10th grade, our class was invited to be high school interns in the summer program, a position that would develop our leadership skills. Initially, I thought I could not apply because of complications with my citizenship. When Breakthrough learned the reason I was not planning to apply to be an intern was because of my citizenship status, they assured me that I could, in fact, participate. That summer, I was an intern just like other members of my Breakthrough class. What Breakthrough did for me was something I had not experienced before. Oftentimes, if I am unable to participate in something because of my status, people tell me, “It is what it is.” But Breakthrough gave me a different experience and showed me the true commitment that its staff have to their students. Since the day I informed Breakthrough of my status, they have worked tirelessly to make me feel just like any other student. I don’t know if they had a protocol for supporting an undocumented student before me but nonetheless Breakthrough made sure that it felt like there was. Breakthrough was versatile and accommodating, taking into account my feelings and my best interest at every step.

In my junior year, I began to work with Evan from Breakthrough who is a charismatic, and overall amazing, mentor. Many times during the last two years of high school and during the college process, I found myself struggling to continue on and that is when Evan would step up and aid me. Knowing that Evan was just a phone call or text away made high school and the college process a lot more manageable. The bond that mentors, directors, and teachers form with students is what makes Breakthrough feel like a family.

This fall I will be the first person in my family to go to college, a dream that I have been striving for since the 8th grade. I will attend UMass Boston. I truly believe I would not be in the position I am today if it had not been for Breakthrough. The profound impact they have had on my life has inspired me to one day create my own nonprofit organization for immigrant students. Thank you, Amee, Paulina, Evan, and all the Breakthrough staff, as well as donors, for helping me reach this point in my life. I am an example of what it means to be a Breakthrough student.

Watch a video Nayeli’s remarks at our Gala on May 1, 2019.