Ariana Hernandez

Ariana Hernandez

Ariana Hernandez was a Teaching Fellow at Breakthrough Twin Cities during our 2018 Summer Session! Check out her thoughts on Breakthrough and the Teaching Fellowship in her interview below!

1. Please tell me a little bit about your background! Where did you grow up, where did you attend high school, are you currently in college and if so where, what have been some subjects or potential careers you have been interested in, and how did you become interested in teaching?

I grew up in Compton, California. I was accepted and was lucky enough to attend the California Academy of Math and Science (CAMS). My school was designed to provide a rigorous education to students from all backgrounds, but especially those of us who came from impoverished neighborhoods. I graduated from CAMS in 2015 and enrolled in Middlebury College that same fall. Middlebury is a small liberal arts college in rural Vermont, and was very different from what I was used to. I am about to enter my last year at Middlebury and am trying to decide what career path I will choose. I am going to graduate with a Chemistry and Spanish double major and over the past three years I have been trying to decide if I want to go to medical school, pursue a Ph.D., or become a teacher. I have been working at an after school program for the past three years, and that is where my interest in teaching came from. It has been fun working with younger children, and that is something that I see myself doing in the possible near future.

 2. How did you become aware of Breakthrough, and why did you decide to get involved as a Teaching Fellow?

My roommate was part of Breakthrough Miami last year and she told me that she loved the program, and it helped her decide that she would love to be an educator. I looked into the program and realized that I loved the mission and that Breakthrough would be an organization that I would be very happy to work with. I decided to get involved as a Teaching Fellow because I knew that this experience would allow me to experience what it might be like to be a teacher.

 3. In what ways has your teaching experience at Breakthrough helped you develop and grow as an individual?

This experience has allowed me to become an even more patient individual. I like to think that I have a great amount of patience, but it takes a new level of patience when working with younger scholars. I am required to have patience when teaching, giving instructions, and when communicating. This experience has also given me the opportunity to grow as an educator. This is my first teaching experience, and this program has provided me with a very real insight as to what it is like to teach a class.

4. Can you tell us about an experience working at Breakthrough that impacted you or sticks out in your mind?

As a Breakthrough Leaders Program (BLP) teacher, I accompanied our students on their week-long BLP retreat. As a math teacher, it is difficult to build much of an emotional connection with students because of the subject matter, but in this week, I felt like that bond between my students and myself grew. It was very rewarding to see my students grow as leaders and connect with their emotions in ways that I had not seen before.

Eh Mu

Eh Mu

Meet Eh Mu, another Breakthrough Twin Citeis student! Eh Mu is in eighth grade and attends Capitol Hill Gifted and Talented Magnet. Check out what he has to say about Breakthrough in his interview below.

1. If someone had never heard of BTC, what is the one thing you would say to help them understand what BTC does?

It’s a program that helps with your schoolwork and it helps you remember all the knowledge you had when you get back to school. It’s a lot of fun though, classrooms are different.

2. What motivated you to be a part of Breakthrough?

My cousin was doing it and I wanted to also!

3. How has BTC impacted you?

It kept me so organized, I was never this organized until this summer.

4. Why have you stayed involved in BTC?

One of the reasons is my parents, and I just wanted to try Breakthrough for the whole summer, you can’t just give up on the first day. And going for the whole summer was worth it.

5. What is your favorite Breakthrough Code and why?

“Persist,” everyday we have to persist up the stairs. Also “Strive to Understand,” when I do something I always want to make sure I know it and I want to get it, I don’t want to leave without understanding. “Strive to Understand” is really who I am.

6. If you could give Breakthrough a shoutout, what would it be for?

Getting me out of my shell, in school I’m never this confident. I would never talk this much in school. And I learn new things every day in all my classes and I like that.

7. Is there anything else you would want people to know about how you feel about Breakthrough?

Breakthrough is fun, it makes summer go so fast, if you’re bored at home you should come to Breakthrough.

Gabby Law

Gabby Law

Hear what Gabby Law, a Summer Session 2018 Teaching Fellow, has to say about Breakthrough!

1. How did you become aware of Breakthrough, and why did you decide to get involved as
a Teaching Fellow? Did you have any teaching experience before Breakthrough?

I had always known a little bit about Breakthrough and what the program was about because it was in the same building I attended school in. I learned about the Teaching Fellow opportunity when one of my teachers and mentors said I should consider applying to be a Teaching Fellow. I also talked to Hena Vadher, one of the Student Support Coordinators, who told me a little bit about the program and application process and also encouraged me to apply. I don’t regret it at all!

2. In what ways has your teaching experience at Breakthrough helped you develop and
grow as an individual?

It’s hard to put into words exactly what Breakthrough does to you as a Teaching Fellow. The students completely change your perspective on the world. They are the most amazing, grateful, and dedicated group of students, and they just want to learn and pick your brain about you, what you know, and the world in general. Breakthrough has also reignited my personal curiosity in a lot of different subjects. I can also say that you won’t find a better group of people than Breakthrough’s Teaching Fellows. They are the most honest, dedicated, authentic people you will ever find, and the Breakthrough staff is also extremely supportive of the work that we do.

3. Can you tell us about an experience working at Breakthrough that impacted you or
that sticks out in your mind?

I had an experience recently where one of my students, who is so interested in the world and such a hard worker, met with me for one of our regular Teaching Fellow conferences. His mom, who normally works a night shift, attended the conference as well. She took time off of work to come to the conference with her son. It made me think about how dedicated the parents in the program are as well as the students, and I thought it was so touching that she would sacrifice her shift to come support her son and his progress in our program.

4. Where do you see yourself ten years down the line?

I’ll be 27 then! One of the big things that I’ve taken away from working at Breakthrough is that I need to work in a job that will allow me to help people and have a positive impact on others. Meeting a quota or just trying to make a certain amount of money is not as important to me as making differences in people’s lives, so I definitely hope to work in a job that allows me to do that!

Xia Vang

Xia Vang

Xia Vang was a development intern at Breakthrough Twin Cities during Summer Session 2018. Check out what she had to say in her interview!

1. Please tell us a little bit about yourself! Where did you grow up, where did you go to school, how did you get involved in Breakthrough, etc. Also, where are you going to college and what are you studying?

I grew up Saint Paul, Minnesota and attended Linwood Monroe Arts Plus for elementary and middle school. I graduated from Harding Senior High and am now currently attending the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University. I’m majoring in psychology with a double minor in Gender and Asian Studies. I’m a BTC Class of 2016 alum.

2. When and how did you hear about the internship opportunity here at Breakthrough, and when did you decide to get involved?

I was fortunate to get the Marie and Robert Jackson Fellowship, which allowed me to choose any internship that I wanted to do. I decided that I wanted to give back to Breakthrough for helping me get into college. I talked to Daniel Bernal (Senior Program Director) and he referred me to Sandy Landberg (Director of Development). I got a phone interview and landed this position!

3. What were some of your responsibilities in your internship, and what new skills did Breakthrough help you to develop?

Some of my responsibilities included looking for a new Booyah Bash venue, leading College Bound sessions and preparing lesson plans, and researching donor prospects. I also learned how to use the Salesforce database over the summer, which I had never heard of before this internship.

4. Where do you see yourself or hope to be ten years from now?

Before this summer I thought I would be a counselor ten years from now. However, now I think I want to work for a nonprofit organization and maybe do development work. But one thing for sure is that I am planning on getting my Master’s degree after I graduate.

Sumeya Ahmed

Sumeya Ahmed

Meet Sumeya Ahmed, a 7th grader at Breakthrough! Sumeya attends Linwood Monroe Arts Plus. Hear what she has to say about her time at Breakthrough! 

1. If someone had never heard of BTC, what is the one thing you would say to help them understand what BTC does?

It’s this program that helps you get ready for the next year and helps you get scholarships. It’s a 6 year program, it’s really fun, and it’s free.

2. What motivated you to be a part of Breakthrough?

I heard about it from Akemi Mechtel (a staff member), who came to our school and told us about it. I knew I needed help to get better, so that’s why I joined. I also had nothing to do over the summer and I wanted to do something.

3. How has BTC impacted you?

It helped me in my math and science coueses a lot.

4. Why have you stayed involved in BTC?

I keep coming back because I want to learn new things and I want to have fun, and Breakthrough helps me do both.

6. What is your favorite Breakthrough Code and why?

“Persist” – even if something is hard you have to go through the hard times, and I’ve been through a lot of those at Breakthrough. I like that even though sometimes it’s hard, my peers are doing the hard stuff with me.

7. If you could give Breakthrough a shoutout, what would it be for?

For helping me get through hard times and hard learning.

8. Is there anything else you would want people to know about how you feel about Breakthrough?

It’s a great program. If you don’t know what you’re going to do for college, it’s going to help you a lot. It also helps you succeed in high school. It gets you ready for your next classes so you can be prepared.

Roosevelt Yang

Roosevelt Yang

Hear what Roosevelt Yang, a 2018 Summer Session Teaching Fellow, has to say about Breakthrough!

1. How did you become aware of Breakthrough, and why did you decide to get involved as a Teaching Fellow?

I became aware of Breakthrough through another Teaching Fellow who was in the program for three years. She told me that Breakthrough was a great experience and that I should try it. Before I applied I was working at an elementary school as a Behavioral Intervention Specialist. I found that I enjoyed working with kids, so I thought that maybe becoming a teacher was an option for me. This was one of the major reasons that I applied to Breakthrough Twin Cities.

2. In what ways has your teaching experience at Breakthrough helped you develop and grow as an individual?

It has helped me to become more self-aware of the changing world around me. This job has made me realize that as I am getting older the world is changing and kids are not being taught like I was taught. They are learning information at a higher rate as well as in different manners, helping them to retain the information.

3. What do you enjoy most about your job as a Teaching Fellow?

The one thing that I liked most about my position at Breakthrough Twin Cities was that I got to make a bond with the students. We learned together, and the students came to see me differently than a “regular” teacher. To them I became more three-dimensional, and not just a teacher, but a person that has gone through many different experiences.

4. What advice or suggestions would you give for someone else who wants to get involved with Breakthrough or apply to be a Teaching Fellow?

This job/internship is not normal. You work super hard, for very little. This is not a job for you to get rich. This is a job to watch students grow and change. You will work super hard, and at times it may be a struggle, but the end product of seeing the students be happy and willing to learn is the goal of the job. The job here is to inspire the students to aspire to be better, strive to learn, and ultimately go to college.

Breakthrough Twin Cities

2051 Larpenteur Ave E, Saint Paul, MN 55109, USA