Shannon Clark has been a Breakthrough supporter since 2018, serving as a volunteer and Associates Board member. Read her story of why she became involved with the organization and what this service means to her.

When I moved to New York City after college, I was eager to continue the involvement I always had with non-profits in school. I wanted to find a community and cause that I cared about in this new city, and I      found Breakthrough New York. I was drawn to the encouraging and dedicated mission of the organization. It offers students a promise of being by their side for ten years, and a promise to support them through the major milestones and hurdles along the way. This seemed to me no small feat, and once I started hearing of students’ stories and praises of Breakthrough, I knew I wanted to be involved. Soon after, I  joined the Associates Board to help with fundraising and began signing up for volunteering events, wanting to ingrain myself in the energized environment of Breakthrough New York.

Breakthrough’s structure relies on volunteers for activities such as mock interviews, essay writing workshops for high school applications, and admissions interview days. Volunteers have the chance to engage with students and with their support networks. The essay workshops, for example, help guardians write answers to essay prompts that are required of admissions applications to New York City high schools. The students often join in on these sessions, and it’s heartwarming to see how proud the parents are of their students, and to help them put those feelings into words.

Each time I volunteer, I walk away reminded of the impact of Breakthrough New York and the caliber of students in the program. A favorite story of mine happened when I was interviewing students and their families to join the program. I asked one student what she thought she wanted to be when she grew up, and her response left me in awe. She quickly responded that she wanted to be the first woman scientist to discover a new universe. There were so many levels to her reply –  the ambition, the curiosity, the acknowledgement of the challenges that lie ahead, and the determination to overcome them. Breakthrough New York plays such a key role in helping students like these achieve what they set their minds to, and it’s been a privilege to be a part of that community.

If you’d like to get involved with Breakthrough New York, visit our Volunteers page for current opportunities.

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