Ellie Ponce, a current Breakthrough senior who joined the program in 2011, in less than a year plans to be studying biology at a four-year university in hopes of becoming a family physician someday. This past summer, she was given the opportunity to experience the life of a college student by participating in the UCI High School Summer Scholar Program. For the second consecutive year, Breakthrough was able to award one student a scholarship to attend the rigorous, yet rewarding summer experience at one of the nation’s top research universities.

Summer Scholars are enrolled into a UCI credit course, in addition to participating in a weekly seminar to learn about university life, research, and academics. Most importantly, scholars get embedded into the university community through outside-the-classroom experiences, such as partaking in social events, tours, and presentations guided by summer scholar mentors, staff and faculty.

Ellie took an intense summer course, “Biology of Human Diseases” and seminar, which was both demanding and revealing. It left a big impression on her, especially an understanding college at a deeper level. As a first-generation student, college can seem like a faraway, distant, and mysterious place. For Ellie, “This adventure changed my perspective about college life. Before having the ability to experience this amazing opportunity I was blind walking into a whole different perspective of education.”

A role model and committed Breakthrough student, Ellie is on the trajectory to realize her dreams and this summer experience provided her with a deeper insight and the determination to succeed at a four-year university. While currently writing drafts of college essays and filling out applications, she reflects that “my summer vacation was a dream come true; never would I have ever imagined myself in a college environment impacted by college students who in the end gave me so much inspiration to learn.”

Breakthrough would like to thank the UCI Summer Scholars Program staff, mentors, and faculty for providing one of our students with such an impactful experience!


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