Breakthrough Miami has been helping students reach their full academic potential since 1991. The graduating Class of 2016 is no exception with one Breakthrough senior winning the prestigious Gates Millennium Scholarship and three seniors named national Posse Scholars.
Breakthrough Miami’s graduating seniors gathered at Miami Theater Center on May 14 for a ceremony that recognized outstanding achievements and awarded $41,000 in new college scholarships funded by generous contributions from the Batchelor Foundation, Dade Paper and the North Bay Village Optimist Club.
The event was a culmination of the scholars’ eight-year commitment to Miami-Dade’s premier tuition-free academic enrichment program that helps nearly 1,200 motivated middle and high school students from underserved communities across Miami-Dade County.
Breakthrough Miami students attend more than 100 public, independent and charter schools throughout the county, while participating in the enrichment program on Saturdays and during the summer.
The 2016 graduates will be attending Boston College, New York University, Hamilton College, University of Pennsylvania, Loyola University, Mount Holyoke College, Duke University, Union College, Davidson College, University of North Carolina-Asheville, Wright State University, Clark Atlanta University, Hofstra University, UM, FIU, FIU Honors, FSU, UCF, FAU, Bethune Cookman University, Florida Gulf Coast University, Florida Memorial University, Florida A&M University, and Miami Dade Honors College, among others.
The Senior Class address was given by Gates Millennium Scholar Cachay Byrd, who will graduate from Carrollton School of the Sacred Heart and will attend the University of Miami as a Hammond Scholar this fall. She shared a quote by Zora Neale Hurston: “Love makes your soul crawl from its hiding place.”
Cachay said, “Therefore I advise that you continue to foster your love for knowledge and success, accept knowledge and give it freely”.
Just 1,000 students out of 57,000 applicants nationally receive the Gates award, which provides funding for both undergraduate and graduate studies. Cachay received the Outstanding Achievement Award for her Breakthrough Miami senior class.
Students from low-income backgrounds are far less likely to graduate high school on time and attend college than more affluent peers.
Nationally, only 26 percent of high-achieving students from disadvantaged backgrounds graduate with four-year degrees. For the past three years, 100 percent of Breakthrough Miami Scholars graduated high school on time, and 98 percent have gone on to post-secondary programs, more than 80 percent of them in four-year programs.
“We are so proud of these graduates,” said Elissa Vanaver, CEO for Breakthrough Miami. “They have worked so hard. Watching as they head to college and down the path to leadership is a dream come true for all of us.”
Class of 2016 seniors receiving college scholarships from Dade Paper: Isabella Oritz, Katerina Sanchez, George Bullard, Rachel Leong, Galvin Decius-Fredric, Giancarlo Oritz, Cachay Byrd, Lisbeth Rubio, Sara Diaz and Tywann Harris.
Students named Batchelor Scholars include ninth graders Julissa Tello and Viviana Carbonell; 10th graders Kailey Almonte and Daijah Sutton; 11th graders Jamie Sanchez and Gabriel Muro, and seniors Sara Diaz and Tywann Harris.
North Bay Village Optimist Club scholarships went to seniors Edgar Otero and Leesa Newbon.
Breakthrough Miami also awarded college scholarships to five underclassmen in the program. These Scholars will receive the scholarships upon high school graduation and completion of the Breakthrough Miami program.
For more information, go to www.breakthroughmiami.org.