Adina Young: Making a Difference

Adina Young's path to Beakthrough New York was charted by Board Member and now-President Elizabeth Sherman.

“I met Liz Sherman about four years ago,” said Young, a Manhattanite who runs an architecture business.  “Liz is straightforward, and has her heart in all the right places. I realized quickly that we share a lot of the same values.”

Last fall, Young visited Breakthrough’s program at The Town School on the Upper East Side. It was the start of her Breakthrough New York experience, and a year later, Young has joined Sherman on Breakthrough New York's Board of Directors, a step influenced by Sherman but primarily by the students she encountered.

Whether watching classroom instruction or meeting with students to listen as they talked about their lives and academic challenges during her visits, Young was impressed by their enthusiasm and determination.

“The students were so engaged and happy to be there, and that’s what got me going," Young said. "They did not take their opportunity for granted and were motivated to make the most of it.”

They spoke about their evolution since being accepted into Breakthrough New York, and the welcoming climate that embraced the willingness of these students to work hard and succeed.

“One of the kids was talking about how different the atmosphere was at Breakthrough New York than in her regular school. Breakthrough was a place where she felt that all the other kids were just as interested in doing well, and it was comforting to be around kids who had the same interests and intention to excel,” Young said.

While Breakthrough New York enhances students’ academic skill sets, the staff and volunteers provide strong cultural and social awareness to prepare students for life outside the classroom. Those aspects further enticed Young to get involved.

“Breakthrough does a really good job supporting the students beyond their academic education,” she said. “They invest a lot of effort making sure the students know how to speak in public, how to handle an interview, how to shake hands and how to eat at a common table – all of the small but important skills that make a difference when you go out into the real world.”

“What really convinced me to get more involved was not only the commitment of the students and the teachers, but the recognition of the role of the family in the success of the education of the child,” she said.