As Breakthrough SJC enters its 14th year of programming, we are excited to introduce a new summer staff role: College Support Intern! While the Breakthrough summer program has traditionally focused on the academic growth of middle school students, we recognize that summer is a critical time for older Breakthrough students as well–especially those headed to college this fall. The College Support Intern position aims to strengthen the programming created with BT Bridge in 2018 and ensure first-year students transition smoothly to their universities.

Rising college sophomores, Citlali Perez and Jaime Del Rio have been excelling in their roles as College Support Interns! Today, we are featuring a short interview from Jaime. Read on to learn more about Jaime’s first year at Claremont McKenna College and his decision to come back to Breakthrough as a College Support Intern.

My first year of college was interesting. It was a success in that I made friends, did fairly well in classes, and didn’t really get home sick. However, that doesn’t mean that I didn’t struggle in my first year. Classes required all my effort just to pass, and it was a tiring process to adjust to living essentially all my own. My take away was that finding a balance between social life and education is not an easy process and that you shouldn’t expect to master it after the first few weeks or even months.

What inspired you to come back to Breakthrough this summer?

I wanted to be a teacher last year, but issues arose making it too difficult on both sides, and it was a similar situation this year. I wanted to be a part of Breakthrough in any capacity that they would have me, so when Sam told me about this role, I was ecstatic. I’ve always been and still am grateful for the support BT gave me before, while and after I applied to college, so this is the least I can do to repay them. I hope to give them my full effort and that I can at least partially pay back all the help that they gave me, or at least pay it forward.

Why do you care about the work that you are doing?

Being in the position of these kids, and even knowing some of their siblings or even them for years makes me want to work extra hard for these kids, because someone worked hard for me. I believe in all these kids, because the potential is there, but they don’t always have the same help and support that other kids do. I’m not an expert, and I don’t pretend to be, but I am fairly familiar with the college transition process and the road there, having done it recently. I want to give these kids the tools to be successful in their road to college, and maybe even leave them grateful enough to come back and do what I am doing.

What do you hope to accomplish while working with students?

I hope to have the kids that I am working with be able to tell me that they are confidently ready to go to college. I understand that actually being in college is extremely different and there is no teaching I can do to teach them how to make bonds and find friends. However, preparing them to avoid avoidable mistakes is my goal and if I can take some stress off of their shoulders before they have a ton more stress then I will.

Any long-term goals you have?

I want to build relationships and bonds with my students, because I have a lot of faith in these kids and I know that they will be doing great things at the same time that I am. As for me, I want to improve my GPA before I graduate, and then I hope to work somewhere until I have enough money to start my own company. I want to have a focus on environmental conservation for my business, but however I can help the planet then I will.