Breakthrough staff, students, and parents are honored to welcome Marina (Mari) Morales Gonzalez as Breakthrough’s new AmeriCorps VISTA Community Coordinator. Mari will be engaging with the Capistrano Valley community and reaching out to individuals, organizations, and Breakthrough supporters to sustain strong relationships in support of our program and its students.

Mari was born in Guerrero, Mexico, and brought over to the United States along with her mother to join her father when she was only six months old. She was raised all her life in the city of San Juan Capistrano, home of the swallows. Mari, like her younger brother, grew up playing soccer. She was part of the AYSO and the Capistrano girls league. She also found time to explore several afterschool programs that caught her attention like elementary camp, SRLA, and Seatech. She is fervent about being involved in an activity that keeps her mind active.

Mari graduated from California State University of Dominguez Hills with a BA in Spanish Linguistics and a minor in Health Science in May 2017. Being a single mother of a four-year-old girl, named Natalie, has inspired her to pursue working with children and educating young minds to fulfill their dreams. “It was hard to balance my roles of being a student, a mom, a daughter, and an employee but raising Natalie along the way has shown me that children can adapt and learn tremendously if given patience and attention.” Mari continues to strive for further education as she works on her Associates Degree in Child Development Education at our local Saddleback Community College.

Mari is a valuable team member because she was part of the first class of Breakthrough in 2006 as a low income student from Marco Forster Middle School with dreams to go to college. She demonstrated her desire to have the best education possible and became a Tartan Scholar at St. Margaret’s Episcopal School, graduating in 2012. Mari is thrilled to return to St. Margaret’s and take on a role on the Breakthrough team as a member of AmeriCorps VISTA. As a VISTA corps member, Mari commits one year to serve as a catalyst for change, living and working alongside community members to break the cycle of poverty that continues in America. She is passionate to help her community and support local underrepresented students who need further guidance and resources. Mari, welcome to the team!