Breakthrough high school students have found engaging ways to spend their summers as they begin to develop their skills and prepare for college and beyond.

Rising high school junior Angela Mendoza interned for four weeks at CCS Fundraising, an Irvine-based firm whose goal is to “partner with nonprofits for transformational change” ( Angela’s project was to create a “snapshot of fundraising” detailing the work that CCS Fundraising is doing in the OC/LA Metro area. Reflecting upon her experience, Angela noted that her co-workers and supervisors “truly wanted [her] me to succeed.” Rather than giving her the menial tasks sometimes associated with interns, CCS Fundraising helped Angela create a LinkedIn profile, revamp her resume, and explore potential careers in the nonprofit/fundraising sector. Ultimately, Angela found that her experience with Breakthrough SJC aligned well with CCS Fundraising’s goal to make people’s dreams a reality. We are proud of Angela for digging in and making connections through this internship experience.

Maggie Perez, a rising high school junior, has been working at Pintar Investments, a real estate and investment firm here in San Juan Capistrano, since October of 2017. This summer, she ramped up her hours and got to experience the lifestyle of a full-time employee. We commend Maggie for the ways she has taken initiative and shown herself to be a self-starter in the workplace.

Ivan Granados and Brandon Fernandez participated in ASPIRE, or Access Summer Program to Inspire Recruit and Enrich, at the University of California, Irvine. ASPIRE’s mission is “for students to learn skills across the broad spectrum of engineering and computer science disciplines” (ASPIRE at UCI). Ivan and Brandon stayed on the UCI campus for two weeks, where they heard from a variety of engineering professionals and got to explore the field of 3D printing and design. When asked about his experience at ASPIRE, Brandon reflected that he really valued the opportunity to stay in dorms and get a feel for college life.

Another group of students, including David Fernandez, Ivan Granados, Jessica Martinez, Jeffrey Millan, Claudia Rodriguez, and Aldo Ruiz participated in a six-week research internship at a UCI Materials Science Lab. Under the guidance of Professor Martha Mecartney and engineering graduate students, Breakthrough students engaged in cutting-edge STEM research and explored what future careers in the sciences might look like. Ivan highlighted his experience learning about cold sintering, a process that he explained as “an effective and cheap method to combine two materials that wouldn’t usually combine.” Thank you to the University of California, Irvine, for making these opportunities possible for high school students!

As Breakthrough students begin a new school year, we know that the things they learned over the summer will prove relevant and exciting. Our students continue to show us that summer is an incredibly valuable time to learn, connect with their communities, and take steps toward their futures!