Meet Dennis: BTNY and Dalton 9th Grader

You’ll want to remember Dennis Quizhpi’s name, because Breakthrough New York expects great things from him.

Dennis is the oldest of four children from an Ecuadorian immigrant family. His parents came to New York City to embrace the American Dream, full of hope for their family and future.

“Some of my uncles and cousins went to college, but didn’t get past one or two years before they dropped out,” he says. “I thought it would be possible for me, but I wasn’t sure it was something that I would be able to successfully complete. I was skeptical.”

His parents, who did not attend college, nevertheless stressed the value of education above all else, so Dennis grew up in his Queens household understanding that hard work and commitment are necessary ingredients to succeed.

He watched his father toil long hours in a restaurant kitchen and, more recently, at a food cart in Brooklyn. He watched his mother assist his father, while also ensuring that her children got to school safely each day.

Dennis concedes they needed help to give Dennis and his siblings the opportunities and support that so many other American students are fortunate enough to take for granted.

“What I have learned from them is that if there is a will, there is a way,” the 14-year-old says. “I want to make my parents proud and show them that their dedication to raising their children has paid off.”

Three years ago, after attending a BTNY information session at school, he pounced on the opportunity to seek admission. Replacing three summers of relaxation with BTNY’s intensive summer program didn't trouble him. He knew the time would be well spent, giving him a leg up as he prepared to start each new grade.

“I realized it’s a long commitment. You are with Breakthrough New York for a long time, and now all through college,” Dennis says. “Breakthrough puts a lot of responsibility on us, and it really has helped me mature.”

It already has: This fall, he started his freshman year at the Dalton School on the Upper East Side, and he envisions pursuing a computer science major in college.

Dennis’s experience mirrors those of all BTNY scholars who exemplify a determination, passion, and talent to create ripples of change. In fact, a younger sister has now joined Breakthrough, and Dennis hopes his other siblings do so, too.

“I tell my younger brothers and sister that you will become a better person if you join Breakthrough New York,” he says. “I feel ready to take on the world.”

December 14, 2016: Update from Dennis

Overall, my Dalton experience has been one that I would not have every imagined before coming to Breakthrough. Living in a community that rarely had children go to schools like these, the opportunity to be exposed to such an education and people like those at Dalton is something that I do not take lightly and cherish dearly.

The courses that I take are all challenging yet breathtaking, the teachers are willing and eager to lend a helping hand, and my fellow peers all have the same, powerful eagerness to succeed as I do.

Granted, I still have an abundance of work in front of me and must face my fair share of challenges, but I rest assured knowing that I've broken free from and surpassed society's expectations.

I owe it all to Breakthrough for giving me the start in this amazing journey, helping me reach a great life milestone, and for now providing me with the tools and advice needed to thrive in this new chapter of my life.