Last week,Breakthrough New York celebrated 14 years of success with a fun and exciting gala event. Breakthrough students were on hand to compete against adults in a trivia contest, and attendees got the chance to meet them, and find out about their experience – and future plans.
One student, Brandon Providence, has been featured in a series of public service announcements unveiled In movie theatres in Brooklyn and Manhattan throughout April. He spoke at the gala, as well, and delivered remarks that reflected his reasons for pursuing Breakthrough, and what the nonprofit has done to shape his future direction.
Below are his remarks:
Good evening, my name is Brandon Providence, and I am the Breakthrough student from the video you just watched.
When I was in third grade, my mom started looking for summer programs to enroll me in. She found Breakthrough’s website and printed a document to save, knowing that they only accepted students in sixth grade, and I would need to wait a few years before I could apply.
I worked hard over the next years and focused on doing my best in school. I was even the valedictorian of my elementary school when I graduated in 5th grade. Since then, however, middle school hasn’t always been easy. Over the past three years, I’ve had to change schools three times, leaving because of bullying, lack of support from teachers, and feeling like I wasn’t really being pushed to my potential.
In 6th grade, in the middle of another school switch, my mom ended up finding that paper she’d printed out years before, and I applied to Breakthrough right before the deadline. I still remember coming to my interview day, feeling unsure about whether this was something I even wanted to do – there was so much competition, and I knew the stakes were really high. That day we participated in a group activity as part of the interview and that changed my view of the program – it made me realize that this was about being a part of something bigger, building on the ideas of others, and made me feel like this was a place where I could finally fit in.
The day I found out that I was accepted to Breakthrough changed everything. I work so much harder now than the other kids at my school. I leave early twice a week and travel an hour to get to Breakthrough to work on extra homework, vocabulary, test prep, and building myself as a community member. I spend the summer getting up at 5:30am for a full day of academic classes, studying, and homework, when other kids I know are outside playing and enjoying their summers. It’s not easy, but I know it will pay off.
At Breakthrough I’ve learned that even the setbacks I’ve faced are preparing me for my future. I know how to ask for help, and how to look at failure as a learning opportunity. Being in a community with other kids who want to work harder than ever to break out of the average around them helps me stay motivated.