Volunteer Reflections

Ayelet Ronen

“Mentoring students during after school hours has been and continues to be the most rewarding thing I have done in my life. Devoting my undivided attention towards helping a student understand something they previously regarded as beyond comprehension gives me such a strong sense of purpose and satisfaction. And the students are so funny and lovable, I can’t stay away!” – Ayelet

Ayelet is a senior at the University of Texas at Austin and began her relationship with Breakthrough as a summer teacher in 2009. AJ also co-authored this summer’s study habits curriculum. She has volunteered with Breakthrough for over a year.

Chris Mann

“One-on-one coaching is a meaningful way for me to interact with students, since it provides time not just to answer questions, but also to consider the reasons and implications for the problems.  It’s really motivating to see students taking time to actually get the answer right, to actually understand their homework.  I think that the Breakthrough model provides a truly great resource, since mentors and tutors can immediately provide the guidance, help, and motivation that can create accomplished students.” – Chris

Chris is a PhD candidate at the University of Texas at Austin in Materials Science & Engineering and an NSF-funded IGERT trainee.  He began volunteering with Breakthrough in Fall 2010 as an Academic Coach. His background comes in handy not only in tutoring, but also in sharing insights with students as to what is required to make a successful transition into college.

Brittany Alexander

“I have enjoyed every moment and experience with Breakthrough as a tutor, mentor, and role model for the students. My favorite part is always hearing students who finally reach a goal or gain more understanding express their gratitude for the help from tutors. Knowing that I only helped them after they put in their time and effort is the best reward. The students truly make Breakthrough an awesome place to be!” – Brittany

Brittany is majoring in mathematics at the University of Texas at Austin. She learned about Breakthrough through the Uteach Internship Program at UT. Brittany has interned with Breakthrough since January 2010.

Amber Washington

“As an Academic Mentor for Breakthrough Austin, I have the pleasure of assessing students’ grades, work ethics, and offering innovative study skills to help improve their grades. The students I work with are a joy to work with and often help me define my purpose in life as I help them strive towards their goals. I enjoy watching them overcome their challenges and make progress in the right direction. One of my best moments so far has been hearing the excitement in a student’s voice when they have aced an assignment that they previously said they could not do.”

Amber is a Senior B.A Biology major at the University of Texas at Austin. She is currently pursuing a teacher’s certification through UTeach. Amber began interning with Breakthrough in the Spring of 2011.

Janet Calhoun

“Volunteering at Breakthrough has been a rewarding experience for me, and I have learned so much from the amazing students.  I have truly enjoyed my work as a college application coach assisting high school seniors apply to college.  When the high school senior I work closely with received her first college acceptance letter, it was such an exciting feeling!  Her hard work and dedication had paid off, and I was thrilled to share in her happiness.”

Janet is a 2nd-year MBA student at the University of Texas at Austin where she is studying finance and social enterprise.  She has been volunteering with Breakthrough since September 2009 as both an after school tutor and a college application coach.  Janet will graduate from UT in May
2011 and plans to work for a non-profit organization.

Mark Dewey

“Breakthrough’s success is no accident. Students are dedicated. The staff have high expectations and have created a program designed for achievement. I always leave my volunteer sessions feeling confident and hopeful about the future, because the talented young people in Breakthrough’s program are destined to do great things.”

Mark Dewey reports for KUT-FM (90.5), Austin’s NPR station, and develops apps for iPad and iPhone.  He volunteers at Breakthrough as an application coach, helping students apply for schools, jobs, and internships.