Profiles of Progress: Sabrina Carrero, BTNY Student Senior, Eleanor Roosevelt High School, Manhattan

The news came right after Thanksgiving, and Sabrina Carrero could not have been more thankful. She was awarded a four-year full tuition scholarship to Brandeis University, the college of her choice.

The 17-year-old says this would not have been possible without BTNY.

“Without this scholarship, this would have put a major financial burden on my family,” she says. “My family and friends and classmates are so happy for me!”

BTNY helped Sabrina through the process of applying for the Posse Foundation scholarship, prepping her for interviews and helping with application forms. Posse selects high school students with extraordinary academic and leadership potential who normally would be overlooked by traditional college selection processes.

Throughout her high school years, Sabrina says BTNY always had her back and her future in mind. “Breakthrough has helped me become a better person,” she says. “Whenever I needed help or was struggling, they were there for me.”

When she starts at Brandeis this fall, she says, she plans on pursuing a biology or a neuroscience major.

Breakthrough New York, says, kept her on track. “This has been a great experience,” she says.

Profiles of Progress: Gabby Vargas, BTNY Graduate, Freshman, Wesleyan University

Breakthrough New York hasn’t just helped Gabby Vargas get to college, but through college.

The 18-year-old is nearing completion of her freshman year at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. She says her connection with BTNY didn’t end the moment she graduated from high school.

“I have someone to advise me, who checks in with me,” she says.

She is part of BTNY’s new pilot College Persistence Program, which is helping 13 students this academic year. The program endeavors to provide strong support so students succeed instead of struggle during their first year of college.

“Having an outside source is awesome,” she says. “If I need advice about a study plan or finals, or just want to talk about any frustrations, there is always someone there ready to offer advice and ensure my problems are resolved.”

BTNY has helped where her family was not equipped. Gabby is the first in her family to attend college, and so her family wasn’t knowledgeable about how to resolve some situations. “It has been great to work with BTNY’s support,” she says.

Gabby is now considering a major in economics or neuroscience. 

Her commitment to education was infused during her previous six years with BTNY. “I owe Breakthrough New York for all of my successes,” she says.

Profiles of Progress: Tim Garcia, BTNY Graduate, Teach for America

A Breakthrough New York graduate, Timothy Garcia wanted to move to the head of the class – so he served as a BTNY Teaching Fellow.

“Teaching at Breakthrough New York rearranged my perspective and my priorities,” he says. “I became much more interested in educational nonprofits and knowledgeable about achievement gaps in this country.”

Teaching Fellows are high-achieving undergraduates, top students from elite colleges across the country. Each summer, BTNY attracts more than 600 applications – but only can select 24 per site. This summer, with the launch of a third program site, BTNY will recruit 56 Teaching Fellows.

Timothy taught during breaks from Middlebury College in 2012 and 2013.

“The most valuable things I learned were how to be in a high stress situation all of the time and how to manage my time and responsibilities better,” he says. “It helped me to understand the professional world.”

“The staff are all compassionate, hard working and passionate about Breakthrough New York,” says Timothy, who graduated in 2014.

Like many of his Teaching Fellow brethren, Garcia envisioned a career in education because of his experience. He now teaches history to 8th grade students at Leadership Prep Bedford Stuyvesant Middle Academy as part of Teach For America.

“It’s a life-changing internship,” he says. “You have to be willing to take risks, to step out of your comfort zone, be creative and goal-oriented, and be organized.”

BTNY Launches Fun Fridays

At Breakthrough New York, we want our amazing students to enjoy both academic and social success, and that’s why we want to make sure they have fun while learning.

On Friday, we launched our first “Fun Friday” event of the year, inviting all 7th and 8th grade students from our Brooklyn campus to attend. This was a chance for our students to put down the books and step away from the computers during this test-prep season, and hang out with one another.

Our theme was “A Fall Celebration". Students made “Dirt Cups” desserts with chocolate pudding, crushed Oreos and gummy worms, noshed on popcorn and other seasonal treats, and watched the classic movie, E.T.

It was a chance to mingle and have some fun, and we look forward to planning the next get-together.

Let's Welcome Julia Perkins

Julia Perkins joined Breakthrough New York in July. Originally from Milwaukee, WI, she graduated from the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities with a double major in Family Social Science and Social Justice.

A Brooklyn resident, she serves as our High School Director, and in this position, arranges workshops for all high school students, assists them with college applications, career readiness and exploration, and helps to develop skills to transition once they get to high school.

She’s been involved with college access programs for nearly five years. Previously, she served as a Program Manager at College Possible, in Minnesota and Pennsylvania.

What attracted her to Breakthrough New York was the ability to work with students from high school through college. “I appreciate that BTNY sees the potential in students much earlier, and works with them toward their ultimate success in college.” she says.

“The students are so unique in the best possible way,” Julia says. “They have strong self-awareness and assurance. They are mature beyond their years, which is demonstrated in their respect for themselves, their family and peers, their education, and BTNY.”