We invite you to meet the Class of 2021, be inspired, and become the next class of opportunity generators!

We are excited to celebrate this significant milestone with our Breakthrough Scholars, as we join the nation in recognizing College Signing Day. Culminating their Scholar journey, high school graduation is a time to reflect and salute our Scholars’ tremendous accomplishments within their schools and local communities.

Our Scholars embody the spirit of Breakthrough, with a commitment to academic success, meaningful extracurricular involvement, and authentic engagement in service to their communities. We honor and support our Class of 2021 graduates as they embark on their unique pathways in pursuing higher education.

As Breakthrough Scholars, our graduates have spent the last eight years exploring their academic passions, openly embracing new opportunities, and engaging with their peers and mentors to find collective meaning and purpose. When faced with the exceedingly complex challenges posed within the past year, our graduates have demonstrated resilience, autonomy, strength, and a heightened ambition to excel beyond these obstacles. Our Scholars are both aspirational and inspirational.  They are empowered as lifelong learners to lead, challenge, and change our communities, both locally and globally, with authenticity and compassion. As our Scholars continue to break through and rise up, we enthusiastically celebrate their achievements and are proud to serve as champions for their success. Better make room, they’re coming through!

Meet the Class of 2021:

Areli Acevedo

“Breakthrough Miami has supported me towards becoming a well-rounded student with an open mind since middle school. At Carrollton, empowerment among young women was encouraged and this helped me to become less fearful in male-dominated areas, such as when I joined Starbot, a robotics program, or deciding to pursue a STEM major when I enter college. Breakthrough also encouraged social and communication skills which are key to being a leader. Becoming involved in various classes, presentations, open discussions, and debates boosted my confidence to speak and feel less shy. Having a school-like routine during the summer also helped establish a sense of responsibility and dependability since homework didn’t result in grades, but instead, personal accomplishment and growth.” 

An all-around wonderful Scholar, Areli is on the path to success! As a proud first-generation student with plans to attend the University of Tampa, Areli is on her way towards making breakthroughs happen. Graduating from Coral Gables Senior High with much ambition for success, Areli was involved in numerous extracurricular and volunteer experiences during her high school years, with the hope of leaving her mark and making an impact on her community. From volunteering with Shake a Leg for three summers where she helped fellow teachers, to being involved with A Zero Waste Culture in an effort to help reduce food waste in her community, it is no surprise why Areli is such an All-Star Scholar! She will soon be a proud University of Tampa student where we know she will continue to make us proud!

Jonathan Auguste

“I’m very grateful for the opportunities provided by Breakthrough Miami. I looked forward to the summer programs where I was able to learn leadership skills. I was always challenged to do my best and was inspired and supported by the staff and other Scholars.” 

Jonathan’s commitment and dedication to his community has been evident from the start. An exemplary Scholar and student from our Miami Country Day School host site, Jonathan has given back to his community in more ways than one. As member of the Black Student Caucus at MCDS, Florida Youth Orchestra member, a volunteer camp counselor at MCDS, and football and basketball player, Jonathan has consistently pursued opportunities to develop as a leader.

Jonathan has plans to attend Florida International University and already has his sights on completing a Master’s degree. Although he is undecided on his major, he plans on pursuing a career that will allow him to make a difference in his community.

Tiffany Bernardo

“Breakthrough has put me in an environment with like-minded individuals who constantly push me to be great. I have learned valuable lessons and skills from my peers including patience, resilience, and determination, all traits of a leader. Breakthrough Miami has helped me become confident academically and socially when helping my peers with assignments or even planning performances to present at ASM. This has also refined my public speaking.” 

Tiffany is a first-generation Scholar graduating from the School of Advanced Studies. She has devoted an impressive 277 hours of community service during her time in high school and as a Breakthrough Scholar. Not to mention, she also completed an internship with a CFO at the 11th Judicial Court of Florida, an internship with PreK SPED Program, and MDCPS PreK Program for Children with Disabilities.

She has recently been accepted into: University of Florida, Florida State University, University of Central Florida, Florida International University, Florida Gulf Coast University, Drexel University, and the Georgia Institute of Technology, with Florida State being her final pick!

Deanna Brady

“Being a Breakthrough Scholar motivated me to become a hard-working student” 

A proud and ambitious student from Miami Central High School, Deanna is ready to continue on her academic journey! Deanna will soon begin a new chapter as a Wildcat at Bethune-Cookman University where she dreams of earning her degree and eventually becoming a real estate agent or a successful entrepreneur. Driven by her focus and determination, Deanna aims to achieve all of her goals and we know that she will succeed in any endeavor that she pursues!

Chyle Briggins

“The best word I can use to describe my time with Breakthrough is Breakalicious. Since joining this organization, I have felt myself grow into the person I was meant to be. Even when I didn’t think I deserved to be the main focus of attention, Breakthrough has always given me the opportunity to showcase my talents. Breakthrough has helped shape me into who I am from the raw material I was in 4th grade. From time to time, I think about my experience because of Breakthrough and I sit back in astonishment and say wow.” 

Chyle is an outstanding changemaker in our Breakthrough Village! While being an exceptional student at the Doctors Charter School of Miami Shores, Chyle sought out ways to be involved in programs that would allow him to contribute and affect change wherever he went. Aside from being an active member of the Breakthrough Miami Village, Chyle was part of the 100 Black Men organization, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Junior Cadets, Men of Tomorrow, and Boys State. Not to mention, he has also helped to support the disadvantaged, organized community events, tutored children, and purchased gifts for kids during special community events. What an incredible changemaker and advocate!

This year, Chyle will be headed to Florida A&M University as he aims to become a college graduate, with the hope of enhancing his family’s quality of life and leaving his mark on his family’s legacy.

Rootbenie Desir

“I have been part of the Breakthrough Miami program for over six years. I love being a part of this community, where I am given the privilege to give back to the community that was prominent in shaping who I am today. Breakthrough Miami is an amazing program that instilled so many great qualities in me, such as how to stand up for what is right and how to use your voice as power.” 

Rootbenie is an outstanding Scholar and student from our Miami Country Day host site. Her many notable accomplishments have recently earned Rootbenie a prestigious scholarship with the Posse Foundation! An active member of her community, Rootbenie has served as a community chairperson for Young People of Distinction, a student representative for her school’s Student Government Association, a peer counselor, member of the Community Service Board, member of the National Honor Society, Co-President of the Black Student Union, and a member of Girl-Up. In acknowledgment of her achievements as a student and engaged member of the community, Rootbenie has received the Marnie B. Allen Spirit Award, Community Service Bronze Award, and the Kenneth Harris Scholarship Award.

This year, Rootbenie will be attending Franklin & Marshall College, where we know she will continue to make Breakthroughs happen. Rootbenie will pursue her love for Biology, majoring in biochemistry and molecular biology, with plans to become a physician. She is not intimidated by the long journey ahead but is instead filled with motivation and passion to achieve her lifelong goals.

Rohan Dewar

“Throughout the years that I have been with Breakthrough, I have met so many incredible people who have guided me towards making decisions and leading with confidence and a clear mind. Breakthrough provides young people with access to a network of mentors that can offer help and a safe space to deal with the problems of the world, through understanding and giving us a hand when we feel lost. The mentors at Breakthrough push us forward, reminding us what we learned from this program.” 

During his time as a student at Miami Southridge Senior High, Rohan completely immersed himself in his curriculum, enrolling in many AP and dual-enrollment classes, including AP English Language and Composition, AP United States Government and Politics, and Preparing for Student Success. In addition to his focus on academic achievement, Rohan was also a member of the 5000 Role Models Program, which is a drop-out prevention mentorship program aimed at guiding minority male students towards success.

Looking towards the future, Rohan hopes to join the United States Air Force to pursue his dream of becoming a pilot.

Matthew Diston

“Breakthrough taught me what it means to be independent and how to use my school’s curriculum to my advantage. I also learned what it means to be an educator and a role model.” 

Matthew’s love for his community, theater, and the performing arts is always on full display! From being a student at the New World School of the Arts, to participating in acting, scene study, movement, and improvisation classes through a rigorous dual enrollment curriculum, Matthew is an incredible patron of the arts! Matthew also served as an advocate on his school’s campus as the Vice President of Student Council, as well as a member of the Student Government Association (SGA), where he represented and communicated the interests of the NWSA student body. A proud and ambitious Scholar, Matthew plans to attend Carnegie Mellon University in the fall, where he will pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Acting/Music Theater, with the goal of pursuing a career on stage or in film.

Megan Diston

“Breakthrough has taught me so many valuable skills that will surely carry on throughout my years in college and beyond. It has made me a better leader, a critical thinker, a go-getter, and has instilled in me a love for service and giving back to my community. It has inspired me to continue my Breakthrough journey once I reach Pittsburgh, while also motivating me to take initiative in everything I do, and become the one that sets trends rather than follows them. It has made me confident in my skills to lead a group of students towards achieving our goals. I will always be thankful for everything Breakthrough has done for me.” 

Being both a student and Scholar at our Ransom Everglades host site, Megan was incredibly involved in school activities during her high school years. An active student seeking to further her knowledge, Megan enrolled in challenging AP courses, including Music Theory, English Literature and Composition, and Biology, while also balancing a full slate of involvement both in her school and the community through the Musical and Technical Theater Clubs, Spanish National Honor Society, Thespian National Honor Society, and the Health Information Program Organization.

Megan will soon be attending the University of Pittsburgh to continue her academic success while exploring her many interests across different areas. While she has not yet settled on a program of study, she has her sights set on successfully learning a new language and pursuing the opportunity to study abroad sometime in the near future.

Herman Dorsett

“Being a Breakthrough Scholar has allowed me to become a better leader by exposing me to a diverse group of students where I was able to absorb all kinds of positive qualities that are preparing me for life outside of school.” 

Driven by his passion to help his community, Herman dedicated much of his time at Miami Northwestern Senior High School participating in numerous clubs and organizations. An excellent team player, Herman was an esteemed member of 5000 Role Models, a counselor for the Restorative Justice Program, Student Government Secretary, Captain of the Global Logistics Program, member of the National Honor Society, and a recipient of the Superior Honor Roll distinction at Miami Northwestern. As a student-athlete, Herman has been recognized as a state champion and member of the varsity track and field team, Star Athlete of the Year at Miami Northwestern, and a three-time state champion on the varsity football team, in addition to successfully completing various dual enrollment courses at Florida International University.

Fueled by his knowledge and ambition, Herman is setting his sights on obtaining a bachelor’s degree in psychology, with the goal of eventually becoming a successful and renowned psychologist.

Teona Dorsey

“Being a Breakthrough Scholar helped me develop my networking skills and build friendships that led to me being able to branch out and become the leader I am today.” 

A talented writer, Teona has achieved many notable accomplishments, including being a published writer in the Liberty of America’s Poetry book, winning various poetry contests, and having the distinguished opportunity to meet Michelle Obama. “Mixed Emotions,” her own published book, is a book of poetry about the thoughts and emotions of a black girl in America where she shares feelings ranging from the bitterness of the political system to embracing her emotions and culture, whether happy, depressed, prideful or in love. Teona always has paper and pencil close by, ready to capture the thoughts for her next poem. During her time as a student at Stellar Leadership Academy, Teona excelled in many ways, including being a student ambassador, writing proposal letters to Florida government officials, creating a mental health and scholarship group chat, and leading city beautification projects. Excited for her bright future ahead, Teona will soon attend Miami Dade College, where she plans to pursue a path towards real estate and work on the second volume of her book.

Deborah Eusebio

“Breakthrough Miami has been the biggest blessing anyone can ever experience. The programs surround you with students who go through the same thing as you. Breakthrough made our summer days bright and made Scholars want to be active in their studies. Breakthrough is home and I will never forget the doors it has opened for me. This isn’t a mentorship program, it’s family, it’s home. Love you, BTM, and thank you for everything!” 

Deborah is a proud first-generation student on her way to making breakthroughs happen! As a student at Coral Gables Senior High School, Deborah looked ahead towards furthering her education by enrolling in challenging dual enrollment courses, including Writing and Rhetoric. As an active student both on campus and in the community, Deborah took on leadership roles as the captain of her school’s varsity softball team for four years and the captain of her school’s varsity volleyball team for three years. Deborah will soon begin the next chapter of her academic journey at Tallahassee Community College, where she plans on pursuing a degree to support her dream of becoming a TV show host and eventually owning her own production company.

Joi Fairweather

“My experience at Breakthrough has been very helpful to me and this program has given me many opportunities to develop my leadership skills. Being a part of the Breakthrough program has allowed me to grow into myself and learn to reach my goals. I have become a great influence in my school from being a scholar in this program and I will continue to be very grateful for its support, using the lessons I’ve learned to shape my future.” 

Joi is an enthusiastic learner and devoted member of her community! Making the most of her high school experience at Calvary Christian, Joi held many leadership positions including being a Retreat Leader, Senior Yearbook Editor, and Social Media Representative for her 12th grade class. Joi was proudly chosen to serve in these roles because of her exceptional character, commitment to following through with her responsibilities, and her positive, can-do attitude. Along the way, Joi learned many valuable lessons in each leadership position, all while giving her the satisfaction of being able to give back to her school.

Joi will soon be attending Shepherd University, where she will pursue her goal of becoming a pediatric nurse practitioner.

Valeria Fontanez

“Going to the summer program, I was able to break out of my shell and become more confident in my actions. Without Breakthrough Miami, I feel as though I would be trapped in my bubble of shyness.” 

Valeria is a passionate and hard-working student from the TERRA Environmental Research Institute. A creative and intelligent Scholar, Valeria successfully pursued her interests in the visual arts through engagement in her school’s Photography Club, while also balancing the rigor of her challenging academic schedule, which included taking AP Calculus AB. Looking to make a positive impact on her community, Valeria plans to pursue her many academic interests while obtaining her undergraduate degree at Florida International University, where she will become a proud panther later this year!

Christine Francois

“Breakthrough Miami has given me the opportunity to explore who I am within my talents and academic abilities, as well as being proud of my heritage. As I move towards my college career, I will carry the responsibilities and lessons that Breakthrough Miami has taught me.” 

Christine is an accomplished Scholar and active member of her community who is dedicated to empowering others. As a brilliant student from Hialeah High School, we know Christine is well-prepared to make future Breakthroughs happen! During high school, Christine pursued rigorous dual enrollment courses, while also serving as the Activities/Tech Director for the Drama Club. In her community, Christine volunteered her time as a Fellow Ambassador, Black Outreach Leader, and Public Speaking Leader for When We All Vote, which is a nonpartisan organization run by Michelle Obama with the goal of increasing voter registration and motivating younger generations to become civically engaged. She was also involved with the Women of Tomorrow organization, which supports young women in reaching their fullest potential.

Looking ahead towards her future, Christine will be attending Oral Roberts University, where she plans to establish an organization dedicated to promoting self-love through body positivity, ethnicity empowerment, and advocacy for colorism. She also dreams of becoming a journalist and pursuing her love of writing through blogging and storytelling.

Eva Galindo

“Breakthrough Miami has become a defining aspect of my identity and an experience that has shaped me into who I have become today. Breakthrough is something that I’ll never trade and has taught me that everyone can become a leader.” 

Eva personifies the many wonderful characteristics of our Breakthrough Village members! She is a proud first-generation student graduating from the TERRA Environmental Research Institute, where she has experienced much academic success while demonstrating true dedication and support for her community. While attending TERRA, Eva was elected President of her senior class and Vice President of her junior class, in addition to serving as the public relations officer for the “GirlUp” club and team manager for the girls’ varsity water polo team, just to name a few of her many impressive accomplishments. Eva has given back to her Breakthrough Village through volunteer work that began in 2017 and which continues today, always being a reliable and dedicated source of support. In her own community, Eva continued to devote her time through volunteer work with Holocaust survivors in a program called Shabbat, while also connecting with other local organizations in the community.

Excited and looking towards the future, Eva will be attending Florida State University, where she will pursue a Bachelor’s degree in psychology, with the long-term goal of attending medical school to become a psychiatrist. Eva aspires to open her own psychiatry practice where she can offer assistance to anyone in need of support.

Alex Garcia

“Breakthrough Miami helped me meet other people and build a solid network.” 

Alex is a Breakthrough Scholar truly dedicated to uplifting his community. During his time as a student at MAST Academy, Alex established a fitness brand with the goal of helping others reach their full health and wellness potential. Alex was also a valued member of the Big Brothers Big Sisters program as well as the Carnival Foundation’s Scholarship & Mentoring Program. Now as a proud first-generation student, Alex plans to earn a degree in finance and pursue a career that he will enjoy in our beautiful city of Miami, while also continuing to build his business brand.

Danielle Gelpi

“Breakthrough Miami has been a consistent source of support in my life that I will forever be grateful for. The connections and resources here are something that have shaped and molded my character.” 

Danielle’s involvement within her school and community is what makes her an All-Star Breakthrough Scholar! As a proud, first-generation student heading to the University of Central Florida, we know Danielle’s future is bright! As a student at Doral Academy Preparatory School and Scholar from our Carrollton School of the Sacred Heart host site, Danielle has truly done it all! From volunteering at Breakthrough Miami as a science Teaching Fellow, to being an exceptional Breakthrough Scholar, we know Danielle is on her way to making Breakthroughs happen. On her school’s campus, Danielle has served as a valued member of the Key Club, Math Honor Society, and Science National Honor Society, as well as Co-Founder of the Builders Club, manager of the Varsity Soccer Team, and Digital Writer/Editor for Doral Academy’s FB page.

Danielle is also deeply passionate about the field of medicine, which has led her to explore her interests through various opportunities in the community, including serving as a Family Experience Volunteer at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital’s Respiratory and Pediatric Intensive Care Units, and being a Student Surgical Unit Observer at Johns Hopkins’ All Children’s Hospital. Danielle dreams of majoring in Biology on a Pre-Med track and attending medical school to become a successful pediatric oncology surgeon.

Arielle Germeus

“Breakthrough Miami helped me grow out of my shell and be more confident in getting out of my comfort zone. My experiences as a Breakthrough Scholar have also helped me develop the knowledge to become a better mentor to my younger peers.” 

Arielle is an optimistic and accomplished Scholar and student from our Miami Country Day host site. Arielle has been a dedicated and devoted member of our Breakthrough Village since 2014, and is completing her Breakthrough journey with us as a BreakthroughU Scholar. Looking to explore her academic interests to the full extent possible, Arielle pursued a challenging high school curriculum, taking numerous AP courses, including Comparative Government and Politics, Psychology, and Environmental Science. On her school’s campus and in the community, she invested her time with many worthy causes and organizations, including serving as Co-President of the National Honor Society, Co-Captain of her school’s varsity softball team, Co-President of the Black Student Union, and representative of Creating Awareness, Understanding & Social Equity (CAUSE), and the Community Service Board. For her hard work, dedication, and commitment to both academic success and community engagement, Arielle was recently awarded a prestigious scholarship from the Posse Foundation.

This year, Arielle will be attending Davidson College, where she plans to major in biochemistry and hopes to pursue a doctoral degree in the future. Her ultimate goal is to become a research physician specializing in obstetrics and gynecology.

Nahomi Germilus

“Breakthrough Miami has truly had an impact in my educational upbringing. I remember the first time I joined how afraid I was, but all that fear disappeared the instant they welcomed me and made me feel like I was part of a family where everyone supported one another. Not only have they made me a part of their family, they have also given me the tools and resources that can help me grow and succeed in life. The many resources and connections that Breakthrough has given me will always be remembered and appreciated. Breakthrough creates leaders the moment you walk into their program. They motivate you and guide you towards embracing the leader mentality you already have that just needs to be brought to life.” 

Nahomi is an exceptional Breakthrough Scholar and student! During her time as a student at Miami Northwestern Senior High, Nahomi pursued rigorous courses, including AP English Language and Literature, while also being a member of her school’s medical magnet program, and focusing most of her time outside of school towards volunteering at her church, completing projects and participating in programs. Looking to continue her academic journey, Nahomi will be attending Miami Dade College and Lindsey Hopkins Technical College to realize her dream of becoming a registered nurse, with the hope to eventually specialize in neonatology or midwifery.

Leila Gibson

Leila is an outstanding student graduating from William. H Turner Technical Arts High School. At her high school and as a Scholar at our Miami Country Day site, Leila has pursued her passion for achieving academic excellence and her ambition for success is an inspiration. During her time as a Scholar, Leila was a member of the Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA), which is a career and technical student organization dedicated to helping students prepare for careers in the health sciences. With high hopes of pursuing a career in the medical field, Leila will be attending Miami Dade College as a proud shark, where she plans to achieve her long-term goal of becoming a pathologist.

Anastasia Givens

“My experiences in Breakthrough Miami helped me become a better leader today. I was taught professionalism, good sportsmanship, and how to be an example for my younger peers; and no matter my background I will be a success.” 

Anastasia is a dedicated volunteer and Scholar from Miami Northwestern Senior High School. During her time in high school, Anastasia was very involved with multiple organizations and extracurricular activities. She was President of the Bible club, a Softball player, member of Big Brothers Big Sisters, a Temple Missionary at Baptist Church Sunday, School President, and a Girls of Inspiration volunteer.

As a first-generation student heading to St. Thomas University, Anastasia has plans to graduate college and start her own clothing line business and eventually become a successful businesswoman.

Meldryk Glenn

“Breakthrough Miami allowed me to flourish not only as a student but as a person. While in Breakthrough Miami I learned great people skills as well as essential life skills. Breakthrough helped me get through my fear of public speaking as well as opened me up to new people through the challenges and ice breakers.” 

An inspiration for our Breakthrough Village, Meldryk has succeeded in more ways than one during his time with Breakthrough! Meldryk served as a tutor and mentor with the Florida Youth Football League along with Hallandale PAL. He was also the secretary for the Pompano Beach Kappa League, Hallandale PAL, Florida Youth Football League, and Pompano Beach Kappa League.

Meldryk’s accomplishments don’t stop there! He has been accepted into Morehouse College, Georgia State University, Wingate University, Stetson University, St.Thomas University, Florida Atlantic University, Edward Waters University, with Morehouse College being his pick to pursue his degree!

In the future, Meldryk would like to become a business owner and begin his own school. He has dreams of giving back to his community through both education and health. He plans to teach young children of color about financial literacy and mental health, and also create his own scholarship at Morehouse College for students from his hometown to attend and allow themselves to expand their knowledge. What an amazing Miami Norland High School  grad!

Miltilla Hall

“Breakthrough Miami has helped me become a leader because before I started Breakthrough Miami I was just a shy kid who didn’t stand out. I’ve been a part of this program for almost 8 years and I have grown so much. Now I light up every room I walk in and I speak up much more. Breakthrough has opened so many doors for me and I wouldn’t be where I am without them. I am without a doubt prepared for college and every other future endeavor.” 

Miltilla is a model Scholar – her accomplishments within her community and our Breakthrough Village have not gone unnoticed! Graduating from Law Enforcement Officers’ Memorial High School, Miltilla’s rigorous studies included AP United States History, and AP Government and Politics.

Pursuing leadership opportunities in and outside of school, Miltilla is committed to giving back and supporting community. As President of the National Honor Society, Public Relations Officer, member of the National Science Honor Society, a Youth Commissioner for the Miami Dade Youth Commission, President of the Class of 2021 Student Government Association, Secretary of Key Club, and member of Women of Tomorrow, and Future Medical Professionals of America, Miltilla is on her way to the top!

When asked about her future goals in life, Miltilla stated she aspires to be an Obstetrician-Gynecologist and eventually open her own teaching hospital and pharmacy. She plans on attending the University of Miami to continue her academic successes.

Angelina Horton

“Breakthrough has definitely pushed me to be the best I can be. Every Teaching Fellow and leader within the organization showers you with love and makes you feel as though you are part of one amazing family. Without BTM, I wouldn’t have the motivation to run for club president or to participate in public speaking. By having strong mentors as an example, everyone in the program learned what it meant to lead.” 

An outstanding student from the Young Women’s Preparatory Academy, Angelina took full advantage of her education by successfully immersing herself in extracurricular activities, while balancing the rigor of dual enrollment courses, including Intro to Diversity, Essentials of Human Nutrition, College Algebra, and Preparing for Student Success. Throughout her time in high school and as an active member of her community, Angelina held various leadership positions, including serving as the President of the Black Student Union, President of Health Information Project (HIP), Vice-President of First Priority, and President and Treasurer of the Student Government Association. Angelina was also an esteemed member of the National Honor Society and Women of Tomorrow. With a strong passion for giving back, Angelina has committed over 120+ hours of community service to Breakthrough Miami, 175+ hours to HIP, and 150+ hours for tutoring.

With plans to enrich and inspire future generations, Angelina will be attending Florida A&M University as a proud first-generation student, where she hopes to achieve her goal of becoming an educator to initiate change within inner-city schools and black communities.

Destiny Johnson

“Breakthrough Miami helped me become a better leader by showing me how to be financially responsible when I venture out on my own.” 

As a proud first-generation student, Destiny is eager to begin the next exciting chapter of her academic and personal journey. Destiny is a graduating senior at Miami Norland Senior High School, where she pursued a challenging academic program by taking Cambridge courses and exploring her interests in different subject areas. This year, she plans to attend Florida A&M University, where she will obtain a degree in computer engineering and computer science.

Amy Leon

“Breakthrough Miami has helped me become a better leader as I was able to break out of my shell during the start of my middle school experience at the site at Palmer Trinity. I was able to make an amazing bond between the fellow students and the teachers as they were very welcoming and taught me a lot. I felt very advanced when I would learn at Breakthrough… when I would go to school, I felt safe with the material I was learning thanks to Breakthrough. By being able to create a bond with other students at Breakthrough, I was able to find myself and become more outgoing. I enjoy helping others and the community as it is a beautiful thing for me. If I would have never joined Breakthrough, I wouldn’t be who I am today. I am proud to be a Breakthrough alumnus and would eventually like to be a Teaching Fellow/Volunteer at Breakthrough in the near future.” 

Amy is an all-around star of a Scholar! Amy is graduating from St. Brendan Catholic High School. During her high school matriculation, she actively participated in numerous community service opportunities including Gigi’s Raise Me Up Foundation, which focuses on tutoring children with special needs. She was also involved in Special Olympics Florida where she helped participants with special needs have fun during an Olympic-like event. Amy also spent time donating to homeless shelters and to churches to support those facing food and housing insecurity. With plans to attend Florida International University, we know Amy will continue on with her successes!

Priya Mahabir

“Breakthrough has shaped me into the person I am today and I am grateful for all of the knowledge, confidence and wisdom they have instilled within me throughout my time as a Scholar.” 

Priya is a brilliant Breakthrough Miami Scholar graduating from Miami Palmetto Senior High. Priya’s future is certainly bright and her inspiring dedication to her community and Breakthrough Village makes Priya nothing less than a rockstar! As a high school student, Priya pursued many diverse academic interests through rigorous coursework by taking AP Art History, Macroeconomics, and United States Government & Politics. Priya has also held various noteworthy leadership positions both on campus and in the local community, including serving as the Treasurer for the National Forensic League, as well as being an esteemed member of Women of Tomorrow, Students Working Against Tobacco, and the South Dade branch of the Youth Advisory Committee.

Motivated and looking towards the future, Priya plans on continuing to support her community by becoming a lawyer and advocating for equality and justice at the University of Tampa.

Abigail Metellus

“Breakthrough Miami has helped me become a better leader by having such amazing people lead by example everyday.” 

Abigail is a natural-born leader! A brilliant student from Monsignor Edward Pace High School, Abigail focused on both her academics and extracurriculars by taking on multiple leadership positions during her time as a student. Abigail dutifully served as President of the Health and Medical Society on her campus, where she led meetings and hosted presentations for members who were interested in pursuing a career in the medical field. Additionally, Abigail was Vice President of the Black Student Alliance, aiding the President with coordination of dance practices and meetings in which they discussed current events taking place within their community, while also serving as a member of both the National Honor Society and Science National Honor Society. Abigail was also an esteemed youth leader with Save the Nations, where she taught a youth program through religious education. Additionally, she spent much time volunteering with organizations such as the House of New Vision and Hope, where she reached out to the community for donations to families in Haiti in need of support for their children’s education and personal belongings.

Ready to begin the next chapter of her journey, Abigail plans to attend Nova Southeastern University where she will continue her passion for helping others and hopes to become a pediatrician or anesthesiologist.

Romeo Moradel

“Breakthrough has helped me by preparing me for college with loads of advice that would help me be successful for my future and be able to solve any small situation.” 

During his time as a student at the Young Men’s Preparatory Academy, Romeo demonstrated academic excellence by enrolling in challenging courses, including AP United States Government and Politics and Dual Enrollment Psychology of Personal Effectiveness. Excited for the future, Romeo will soon be a proud shark at Miami Dade College and then join the panther family after transferring to Florida International University following his first two years at MDC. When asked about his Breakthrough experience, Romeo shared that Breakthrough helped prepare him for college through support and advice that would help him build a successful future.

Diana Monteagudo

“Breakthrough provided a community for me to grow and learn in, filled with lots of love and encouragement. I became a very outgoing and involved individual because of Breakthrough and I owe it all to this program.” 

Diana is an outstanding Breakthrough Scholar at our Carrollton School of the Sacred Heart site! She fully embodies the Breakthrough spirit, which is evident from her dedication to giving back to her community and her determination to further her knowledge. Diana is a student from Coral Gables Senior High School, where she demonstrated academic excellence through her pursuit of challenging AP and IB courses, while also developing extensive involvement through various extracurricular opportunities. An avid volunteer, Diana has given back to her community as a teacher’s assistant and vacation bible school volunteer, where she has worked with children and teachers to create positive learning environments. At her high school, Diana has been a highly valued member of The Cavaleon’s yearbook staff for the past three years, working as a reporter in her sophomore year, an Academics Editor in her junior year, and the Life Editor in her senior year, all positions that have required tremendous commitment and hard work. In her free time, Diana continued to support her passion for journalism by attending various programs and events, including Journalism Day at FIU, the Florida Scholastic Press Association in Orlando, and Yearbook Palooza.

As a proud first-generation student, Diana will soon be attending the University of Florida to continue her academic journey and we wish her much success!

Christopher Michel

“Being around like-minded individuals, as well as older mentor figures, helped me to become a better leader.” 

Christopher is an incredibly involved and dedicated Scholar! Always searching for opportunities to support community initiatives and join school clubs, Christopher participated in numerous extracurricular activities during his time as a student at William H. Turner Technical Arts High School. As president and secretary of his school’s chapter of the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA), Christopher demonstrated tremendous community involvement, while also serving as a Breakthrough Miami Volunteer. As a high school student, Christopher challenged himself in preparation for college success by completing various dual enrollment courses in student success, networking technologies, and networking security. Christopher hopes to put the skills and knowledge gained through his academic experiences to good use as a future college graduate.

Victoria Ortega

“Breakthrough Miami gifted me the opportunities to grow as a leader through an academic foundation. With commitment, mentorship, and resources, I believe I am on the path to success.” 

Not only is Victoria a dedicated Volunteer, she is also an exceptional Breakthrough Scholar! During her time as a student at MAST Academy, Victoria immersed herself in her education by pursuing multiple internships and enrolling herself in numerous AP classes. Her extracurricular activities included a Summer Youth Internship at Venture Hive, a Summer Youth Internship at Shake A Leg Miami, A Zero Waste Culture Youth Leader, and a Coding Angel Managing Project Director.

Excited and looking to the future, Victoria will be attending the University of Miami in hopes of pursuing a PhD in Biomedical Engineering in the BioTech and Industry Fields.

Adrienne Palmer

“Breakthrough Miami has shaped me into who I am today and prepared me to pursue higher education. This program introduced me to the beauty of being able to put a smile on others’ faces, helped me break out of my shell, and grow both emotionally and mentally. Overall, I would not trade my experience with this life-changing program for the world.” 

Scholars like Adrienne make our entire Breakthrough Village proud! An exemplary student from American Senior High, Adrienne continuously makes Breakthroughs happen! Adrienne’s efforts to improve her community through participation in clubs and organizations created to inspire change makes her an outstanding Scholar. During her time as a student and Breakthrough Scholar, Adrienne served as Secretary of the African American Cultural Association, Secretary of Key Club, a BTM volunteer, and an esteemed member of both the Early Prevention & Intervention Program and Women of Tomorrow.

With a bright future ahead, Adrienne will begin the next chapter of her academic journey as a student at Florida State University, where she plans to major in psychology, with the goal of eventually becoming either a psychiatrist or mental health professional specializing in Industrial/Organizational Psychology. Always seeking to be a source of support, Adrienne’s goal is to engage in meaningful work that will allow her to make a positive impact on the lives of others.

Sebastian Paulis

“When I was growing up, Breakthrough Miami was one of my main outlets where I could explore education in a welcoming environment. For three years, I participated in the VEX IQ elective and learned about the world of engineering. Between Breakthrough Miami and my middle school, I found my passion in engineering ahead of the pack and became a leader within my school community as the middle school engineer.” 

Sebastian is not only an exemplary student, but also an active member in his community through various volunteer experiences. Throughout his time at the TERRA Environmental Research Institute, Sebastian pursued a rigorous academic schedule comprising of various AP classes and volunteer experiences. He followed an immersive extracurricular experience while serving as a captain of his FRC team, dedicated to helping students get engaged in STEAM. In addition to his time as a Breakthrough Scholar, Sebastian also volunteered at our Ransom Everglades site and taught students for 2 weeks and at Calusa Elementary where he taught 5th graders about VEX IQ. Additionally, Sebastian interned at MWL Engineering to learn, but also assist workers with work orders for the company.

Sebastian will be attending the University of Florida to pursue a career in software engineering and project management in the computer science field. Sebastian also has interests in music production, the stock market, and app development.

Leslie Perez

“Being a Breakthrough Scholar has allowed me to become a better person.” 

Leslie is a trail-blazer and accomplished Breakthrough Scholar! Committed to her studies, Leslie enrolled in and successfully completed numerous dual-enrollment and Advanced Placement classes during her time as a student at the School for Advanced Studies, including English Language and Composition, United States Government & Politics, and Calculus AB. Aside from her responsibilities as a stellar student, Leslie played an integral role as an esteemed member of the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization, which aims to help children reach their full potential through professionally supported relationships with a measurable and positive impact.

Leslie will soon begin her journey towards being “Worlds Ahead” as a proud panther and first-generation college student at Florida International University.

Yakira Pinillos Linares

“I have been a part of Breakthrough since 5th grade; today I am a completely different person thanks to it. Through the rollercoaster that is life, Breakthrough has been my only constant. With the support, I was able to develop enough confidence to take on leadership roles and understand the true meaning and impact of leadership.” 

Yakira is not only an exceptional student, but also an active member in her community through various service and volunteer experiences. Throughout her time at School for Advanced Studies at the Wolfson Campus, Yakira pursued a rigorous academic schedule including various AP and dual enrollment courses across diverse subject areas. She pursued immersive extracurricular experiences, including as a member of her school’s Model UN program in various leadership roles, Class of 2021 President, Vice President of the Cuban Student Association, and a volunteer with Feeding South Florida, in addition to leading hunger and poverty advocacy efforts and transforming lives through innovative programming and education for food-insecure families in South Florida.

In addition to her commitment as a Breakthrough Scholar, Yakira was also supported by the Women of Tomorrow mentorship program, which is designed to guide, motivate and inspire at-risk young women to achieve their full potential through mentoring by highly accomplished professional women. This year, Yakira was also the recipient of a prestigious Posse Scholarship to support her pursuit of higher education and in the fall, she will be attending Franklin & Marshall College as a proud first-generation college student.

Kyndal Royal

“Being a Breakthrough Scholar provided an opportunity for me to grow out of my shell because interacting with my fellow peers and teachers taught me how to speak up and lead, no matter my age.” 

Kyndal is an outstanding Scholar and student-athlete graduating from Palmer Trinity School. An active leader both in school and his local community, Kyndal pursued numerous extracurricular activities and service leadership opportunities, namely as the Vice President of the Black Student Union and captain of the varsity football team, as well as being an esteemed member of his school’s Juvenile Justice Reform organization and the Monroe Juvenile Justice League. Kyndal is committed to continuing his football career with Delaware State University, where he dreams of becoming an engineer or pharmacist. As a first-generation student, Kyndal is a trail-blazer and leader, moving forward with much vision and purpose!

Hillary-Reese Simmons

“When I came into Breakthrough as a 4th grader, I was really shy. But Breakthrough gave me a safe space to explore new things and put myself out there. This has ultimately helped me be more proactive and open to trying new things.” 

Hillary is committed to achieving the highest levels of academic success, and devoted to leading & participating in civic engagement initiatives with the intent of effecting real, meaningful change within her local community. As a student at Mast Academy, Hillary has made the most of her curriculum, successfully completing AP and dual enrollment courses while balancing her involvement in diverse extracurricular initiatives that support her community and uplift her peers. Hillary has pursued many opportunities for growth and leadership. In high school, Hillary held various positions to help further important conversations about the pressing issues of our time, including serving as the current President of the Black Student Association (BSA) at MAST Academy, being a staff writer and editor for her school’s newspaper, serving as a Peer Health Educator delivering health information to freshmen students for Health Information Project.

Hillary independently developed the Scholars Initiative, a chat-based program designed to create space for communication among high school students who needed support in prioritizing the achievement of a college education. The Initiative has reached more than 200 students to date. Hillary will be attending the University of Michigan’s prestigious and internationally-recognized Ross School of Business and she is also the recipient of generous support made possible through the Tisch Family Scholarship.

Camrin Thompson

“Breakthrough has not only been a place for me to build and solidify my knowledge; it has also helped me develop my character as a person. The professionalism and time management skills that I have developed in the period of attendance has helped me excel in the professional environment. I was motivated to get ahead of the game as I have gone through various working environments with different professionals, learning important lessons along the way.” 

Camrin is truly devoted to his academics as well as his Breakthrough Village. As a graduating student from Barbara Goleman Senior High School, Camrin enrolled in various AP and dual-enrollment classes, looking to further his academic knowledge while successfully completing courses in Macroeconomics, US Government & Politics, Computer Science, and Statistics. He was also an esteemed member and Treasurer of the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) club at his school where he learned about the free enterprise system.

This year, Camrin will attend Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University, where he will pursue his dream of becoming a successful entrepreneur and CFO for a major company, while also being the recipient of a prestigious FAMU National Alumni Association (NAA) scholarship, an award granted to graduating high school seniors who have been accepted to FAMU and demonstrate excellence through academic achievement.

Keanu Vaquedano

“Breakthrough helped me understand that a leader not only calls themselves a leader, but has to put forth effort and courage in whatever task needs to be done.” 

Keanu was an all-star student at Miami Springs High School! As a Scholar committed to academic enrichment, Keanu pursued rigorous high school AP courses, including Psychology and Computer Science A. Looking towards the future, one of Keanu’s long-term goals includes becoming certified through various personal training organizations such as the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) and the American Council on Exercise (ACE). He hopes to work closely with clients and athletic facilities that allow him to understand the basics of being in a gym environment, and possibly growing his entrepreneurial spirit by becoming a personal trainer himself! This year, Keanu will be attending Miami Dade College as a proud Shark!

Daniella Velasquez

Daniela is a first-generation college student graduating from Coral Gables Senior High School. Her passion and dedication for community involvement is inspiring! During her time in high school and as a Breakthrough Scholar and Volunteer, Daniela was also a Gables Earth Team Leader, a Jackson Memorial volunteer, a church food drive coordinator, and a church dance leader. Daniela’s commitment towards serving her community is admirable and one that she hopes to continue during her time in college.

As for the future, Daniela looks forward to exploring her interests to discover an academic and career pathway that she enjoys, while becoming a college graduate and continuing to make her family proud!

Eden Williams

As a talented musician in our Breakthrough Village and standout Breakthrough Scholar, Eden is a Rockstar! Eden is a first generation college student heading to Emory University to become a successful entrepreneur and to give back to his community. He was recently named a Questbridge Scholar which provided him with a four year scholarship! He is an incredibly active member of his community, dedicating his time to volunteering with Breakthrough Miami as well as with his church and the South Florida Youth Symphony where he is a member.

Eden has also been recognized as a Nyah Project Finalist, National Achievers Scholar, a Duke Tip Scholar, and a presenter at the 2018 TedX Pine Crest School. When asked about his experience with Breakthrough, Eden states that all of the programming, as well as opportunities to be a summer volunteer and assistant teacher helped him grow immensely.

Jerrick Wong

“Breakthrough has shown me the power of hard work and being confident. I worked with my fellow classmates on summer challenges that helped me the value of working with others and refining ideas with a group.” 

Jerrick made the most of his time during his Breakthrough Miami program. During his time as a student in Coral Gables Senior High, Jerrick was a Breakthrough Miami Teaching Fellow a Volunteer at a library, and at Nicklaus Claus. He has been accepted into numerous Colleges and Universities including: Florida International University, University of Central Florida, University of Miami, Cal State LA, University of Florida, Florida State University, and Cal State Northridge with FIU being his final decision! Although Jerrick is unsure of what his future will be like once he earns his degree, we know his future will be bright!


Senior Celebration 2021

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