Monthly Archives: November 2016

Not Wasting a Second: A Breakthrough Alumna’s First Two Months in College

When Maribel Castanon first received her acceptance letter to Chapman University in the spring of 2016, it was not at the top of her list. Thinking back, she reflects, “I was not so excited because Chapman was not my first choice, [but] I have to agree with what many people have told me in the past, ‘Your college experience is what you make of it.’” Eight months after the initial acceptance and with a great start to the school year, she has found a new home at Chapman.

Maribel was a dedicated volunteer with Breakthrough SJC, where she served as a middle school tutor in 2012 and as a 7th grade science teaching fellow for two consecutive summers. While excelling in the International Baccalaureate program at Capistrano Valley High School, she devoted her time to supporting Breakthrough middle school students, acting as a peer minister, and helping her family’s business. A true example of a first-generation student who is studious and committed to giving back, Maribel has tapped into her strengths to thrive in college.

Reflecting on her first two months in college, Maribel remarks that “I have immersed myself into college and that has definitely made all the difference . . . take advantage of the opportunities that are presented to you.” She is engaged with the Chapman community in many ways: by joining the University Program Board, a student-group dedicated to organizing campus events; pledging to Kappa Alpha Pi, a pre-law co-ed fraternity; and registering people to vote for the Office of Student Engagement in the Civic Engagement subdivision. Though the pressures of living away from family, being a campus leader, and succeeding in the classroom can be overwhelming, she fights through it with resolve, describing that “I am under a lot of pressure, not that everyone else may not feel the same way, but as a first generation student . . .  I don’t want to let my parents down or myself down . . . I feel like I especially have to prove that I deserve to be here.”

Breakthrough SJC is extremely proud of Maribel, and she leaves us with one final piece of advice: “I want students to know that college, but most importantly, education is such a valuable thing that you can have, gaining knowledge is what I have appreciated most about college.”

Students Lean into Discomfort: Model United Nations Teams Up with Breakthrough SJC

Breakthrough’s middle school year program kicked off in October with 60 7th & 8th grade students, 65 tutors from six local high schools and a new partnership with the St. Margaret’s Model United Nations (MUN) student-run club. As part of preparing students for college, the new partnership with MUN supports students in developing public speaking, interpersonal communication, and critical thinking skills to ensure that they are more informed global citizens. The partnership arose through the proactive leadership of two St. Margaret’s seniors, Anika Grover and Makenna Mitchell. The two MUN student leaders identified a need to teach local students about civic engagement through “public speaking and the ability to solve issues diplomatically.”

Anika and Makenna, with the guidance of Breakthrough staff and MUN faculty advisor Rocky Parker, have created curriculum and trained a select group of MUN members to teach lessons once a week during Breakthrough’s after school program at Marco Forster Middle School. This model truly embraces Breakthrough’s unique “students teaching students” model. As noted by Anika, “Every week at MUN BT, students are learning how to become global citizens who have the confidence to voice their thoughts and opinions in the world community. We want to help students embrace public speaking, not be scared of speaking in front of large groups of people.” In their first week, students learned the qualities of effective speakers and practiced speaking in front of classmates. Throughout the school year, students will learn these valuable skills while becoming more aware of international relations, politics, and current affairs.

Evidenced by consecutive weeks of 100% student attendance, the new partnership endeavors to continue engaging students, teaching them to be more informed, global citizens and most importantly, lean into discomfort.

Breakthrough would like to thank Anika & Makenna, Mr. Rocky Parker and all of the MUN members for teaching our students to be confident speakers and globally-conscious citizens.