As Breakthrough SJC says goodbye to former Assistant Director Bryan Boyce and AmeriCorps VISTA’s Jenna Robinson and Sandra Alvarez, the program eagerly welcomes three new staff members to start the new academic year.

Alex Serna joins Breakthrough as the new Assistant Director. He is a first-generation college student with an A.A. in Liberal Arts, B.A. in American Studies from UC Berkeley, a M.Ed. and teaching credential from UCLA. Before joining Breakthrough, Alex worked as an Academic Program Coordinator with the Youth Policy Institute, where he taught and assisted at-risk youth so they could graduate high school and attend college. He is also a father to four girls and says he is “grateful and excited to be the new Assistant Director.”

Lily Panish is the new VISTA Community Coordinator. She graduated this past March from UC Santa Cruz with a B.A. in Politics, and most recently worked as a Sales Associate at Express and a Swim Instructor with NOVA Swim School. She became interested in Education when interning in Washington, D.C. at the Spanish Education Development Center (a bilingual preschool) and hopes to eventually get a Master’s in Education or Public Policy. She “can’t wait to be a part of the San Juan and Breakthrough community” and has big plans for the after-school and summer programs.

Diana Barriga, a San Juan Capistrano native and resident, is the new VISTA Volunteer Coordinator. She recently graduated this past May and earned a B.A. in Economics and Sociology from Connecticut College. Diana is very familiar with Breakthrough SJC and St. Margaret’s Episcopal School. She attended St. Margaret’s from Preschool through Twelfth grade, she served as a Breakthrough SJC Teaching Fellow in 2012 and 2013, and she just finished her role as Dean of Students for the 2014 summer program. Diana is “extremely excited to continue her work with Breakthrough and continue giving back to the amazing students in her community.”

Breakthrough SJC looks forward to a new school year, with new programs, new students and new staff!