Photo credit: Quy M. Tran Photography

HOUSTON, February 27, 2017– Breakthrough Houston seniors and their parents surely felt the love as approximately 425 guests gathered to celebrate the seniors’ upcoming high school graduation and the next phase of their life adventures.  Breakthrough’s “Choose Your Own Adventure” luncheon took place at the beautiful Flores Hall at St. John’s School and featured keynote speaker, Dr. Renu Khator, President of the University of Houston.  With elegant centerpieces donated by HEB and delicious sweet treats from Becks Prime and Tinys Milk & Cookies, chairs Allison Leibman, Liz Stepanian, and Courtney Toomey, M.D., led the festivities and helped raise an unprecedented $250,000 for Breakthrough’s tuition-free academic enrichment for underserved, high-potential 7th-12th graders.

Dr. Khator began her remarks by saying, “We can all agree that talent is universal, but opportunity is not.”  She recounted her personal story, filled with determination to pursue higher education despite encountering several obstacles. Beyond providing financial support, Dr. Khator outlined three ways that we could all help a student become successful—by raising expectations, instilling confidence, and offering genuine care.

In addition to Dr. Kahtor’s lovely keynote address, those in attendance heard from Breakthrough Houston students and teachers about their experience with the program. A former Breakthrough Teaching Fellow with a law degree, Nick Feronti, knew that he could offer needed support to students and has now joined EMERGE as a Program Manager. “Breakthrough . . . allowed me to make an informed choice about where I can dedicate my talent and passion for building supportive education communities,” he reflected. “Education is about community. It is about loving every student, indiscriminately, even in times of great despair, and uniting around solutions.” Current UH Bauer College of Business student and Breakthrough alumnus, Ruben Tang, explained that “as a student whose parents never attended university, the plethora of formative experiences that Breakthrough offered me allowed me to overcome my socioeconomic limitations and become who I am today.”