Current News

20 for 20: An interview with Breakthrough scholar Micheal Brown

By Morris Nwogwugwu

You might have seen the news about Micheal Brown, the high school senior from Houston who was recently accepted to all 20 colleges he applied to, receiving full scholarships (and then some) to each. What an accomplishment!

As others have said, Michael was very much in control of his education, pushing himself hard and rising to every challenge. Part of that drive was what lead him to apply to Breakthrough Houston when he was in 6th grade. I still remember reading his essay — a wonderful piece about his father — and knowing this young man was an ideal candidate: an intelligent, motivated youth from an underserved community in Houston. Six years later we’re so proud of this scholar. Congratulations, Micheal — we know you’re destined for great things! But first, we have a few questions for you…

1) What’s it like getting accepted to all 20 colleges you applied to? Describe the feeling.

It’s really amazing to get into all 20 colleges. I applied to 20 in part because I wasn’t sure what type of school I wanted to go to, and also because I wanted to have options. I didn’t even really think that I would get into all of the schools until I got my last acceptance. The idea of it did creep up once or twice in the second half of March, but I still thought it was a long shot. Any acceptance brings relief and excitement… now it’s just a feeling of accomplishment and of hard work paying off.

2) Which was more fun: the first acceptance or the last?

I would say that Stanford was the most fun acceptance because all of my best friends were there, but Stanford was technically my third decision. Out of the first and the last decision, the last acceptance was the most fun. It was just me and my mom, opening Harvard. Not only did it complete my sweep, it also had a gif embedded in the letter, which was great.

3) Your mom and teachers have said you took charge of your own education from a young age, but which teachers, mentors, or programs stick out as being instrumental along the way?

Although I do think I was very self-motivated in my educational process, my motivation was anchored by programs like Breakthrough Houston, EMERGE HISD, USC Bovard Scholars, and QuestBridge. There are so many organizations that are dedicated to increasing access to education, and I was fortunate to find some great ones. I’ve had such amazing teachers, counselors, and mentors. In particular, Mr. Morris and Raj from Breakthrough; Mr. Clark and Mr. Chambers from EMERGE; Mr. Lawrence from T.H. Rogers, Mr. Huffman from Lanier, Ms. Ling from Lamar, Ms. Pitre from Lamar, Mrs. Blair from Lamar, and Mr. Brahm contributed deeply to my education. And there are so many more; all of my teachers believed in me and encouraged me to reach for the stars.

4) What advice do you have for other students of color trying to succeed in school and go on to college?

Reach for the stars! Don’t be afraid to reach out to people and programs that have resources that they want to give to you. Don’t let anyone define your achievements or take away anything from you; you have earned everything that you get. Just work hard and it will pay off.

5) Inquiring minds want to know: Where are you going to school next year?

I’m not sure where I’m gonna go next year. I’ve informed 13 of the colleges that I won’t be attending so a waitlist student can be accepted. I’ve whittled down my list to UPenn, Princeton, Northwestern, Stanford, Harvard, Georgetown, and Yale — in no particular order. I’ll spend the next month visiting schools to find the best fit for me. I have until May 1, so I’m trying to be as informed as possible and not rush the decision.



Are you a motivated student from an underserved area of Houston? Click here to learn more about Breakthrough Houston’s summer, school year, and college-bound programs.

Want to support motivated students like Micheal? Click here to make a donation. Every dollar helps!



Celebrate 15 Years of Breakthrough Houston

Experience Breakthrough Houston

May 11, 2011
11:30 AM — 1 PM
The Briar Club
2603 Timmons Lane, Houston Texas 77027

Join Luncheon Co-Chairs Brittney and Max Tribble for the annual Breakthrough Luncheon, honoring all student and teacher alums from the past 15 years.   Our guest speaker is Lois Loofburrow, the founder of the Breakthrough Collaborative.

Tickets are available at several levels.  Take a look at the invitation, and send in your RSVP today!

  • $100 HALL PASS SUPPORTER: Individual Ticket

Supports the BTH alumni network

  • $500 EXTRACURRICULAR  SUPPORTER: Seating for 4

Supports one high school student during the school year

  • $1,000 FIELD TRIP TABLE: Seating for 8

Supports a summer teacher’s stipend.

  • $2,500 GOLD STAR TABLE: Seating for 8

Supports one middle school student for an entire calendar year

  • $5,000 A+ TABLE: Priority seating for 8

Supports one middle school student for all three summers of the BTH middle school program

Corporate underwriting opportunities are also available.

For more information on tickets, underwriting opportunities, or the event, please contact Darcy Douglas at ddouglas@sjs,org or 713-850-4031.


Become a Summer 2011 Breakthrough Houston Teacher!


Are you currently a high school senior or a college student? Are you thinking about pursuing a career in education after college graduation? Are you ready for eight weeks that will change your life forever? Look no further.

Breakthrough Houston is looking for talented individuals who are interested in working with academically gifted middle school students from underserved families in the Greater Houston area to teach this summer. As a Breakthrough Houston teacher, you will teach classes of approximately eight to ten students. You will go through an intense orientation week to learn the ropes of the classroom, work with an experienced Mentor Teacher as you create six weeks of lesson plans, and spend a week evaluating the amazing progress you made as a teacher.

The Princeton Review has ranked Breakthrough as a Top Ten summer internship, along with working at the White House and for MTV. Teach for America has noted that former Breakthrough teachers are accepted to TFA at a much higher rate than regular applicants. Plus, you will make friendships that will last a lifetime.

Click HERE to apply to teach at Breakthrough Houston this summer. The deadline to apply is MARCH 7, 2011. Get ready for the best eight weeks of your life!


Become a College Readiness Mentor!

Our College Readiness program extends our services to high school students.

Our high school students are paired up with a “mentor” who is currently enrolled in college.


Please return completed application by October 8, 2010 to the address below or by fax to 713-512-3601 (please email to confirm receipt).

Christine Cepeda

Breakthrough Houston

Episcopal High School

4650 Bissonnet

Bellaire, TX 77401

Want more information?

Please email or call 713-512-3430


Alumni Reunion!


Who: ALL alumni teachers and students

What: An Ice Cream Social

When: Wednesday, July 14, 2010 from 2:30 to 3:30

Where: St. John’s School cafeteria
2401 Claremont Lane Houston, TX 77019

Why: To celebrate Breakthrough Houston!


2009 Annual Report



“Friends Of” Breakthrough Houston



Corporate Sponsor for Breakthrough Luncheon


Please join us as a Corporate Sponsor (Underwriter) for Breakthrough Houston’s annual luncheon on Friday, May 7, 2010 at the Briar Club. This year’s keynote speaker is Houston’s former First Lady, Andrea White. Andrea’s daughter, Elena, is a former student teacher in our program. The entire White family understands the need to provide the underserved communities of Houston with an opportunity such as Breakthrough Houston. This year we are pleased to honor H.I.S.D. for their many years of providing Breakthrough with food and transportation for our students in the summer program.

Since 1996, Breakthrough has been educating low-income students through our intense summer and school-year programs and providing aspiring student teachers with a meaningful and inspiring teaching experience. Recognized by the Princeton Review as one of the top ten teaching internships in the country, Breakthrough continues to reach hundreds of middle school and high school students and create a new generation of gifted teachers. We are proud that this fall, 95% of our 9th graders entered top-tier college preparatory high schools and 85% of our alumni are attending college.

For your contribution, your company will be listed in the event invitation, program, our Annual Report and on Breakthrough Houston’s website. Your gift will enable us to continue to provide a tuition-free and rigorous academic program for our students while encouraging talented high school and college students to pursue careers in education. Please join us in supporting this important two-fold mission.


Kathy Heinzerling

“Breakthrough has given me faith in my abilities as a teacher, the abilities of my fellow student teachers, and the abilities of my students – as bright, motivated professionals, as well as compassionate human beings who want to affect positive change in the world.”
Meredith Zern, 2009 Breakthrough summer Spanish teacher


Breakthrough Luncheon


When: Friday May 7, 2010 from 11:30-1:30 p.m.

Where: The Briar Club

2603 Timmons Lane   Houston, TX 77027

Why: Celebrating our program at our annual fundraising event

Keynote speaker:  Houston’s Former First Lady, Andrea White

Honoring: H.I.S.D for their ongoing support

*Please reserve your seat or table today by donating online*

Contact Samantha Singh at 713-850-4031 or


College Readiness update:ATTN High School

Dear Breakthrough Family,

As we start the new Spring 2010 semester, we’d like to welcome you back to the College Readiness Program! We’ve had a very successful school year so far with a PSAT prep session, a visit from a Princeton Review representative and a good turnout at last weekend’s Career and Education Day. We were also pleased to see some of our students show up early on a Saturday morning to volunteer at the Jingle Bell Express Christmas gift distribution. We hope to see all our 9th and 10th graders at our upcoming events this semester. Even if you haven’t been able to make it to any of our meetings yet, it’s not too late to start taking advantage of everything we have to offer!

Our next meeting is for both parents and students on Saturday, January 30th, 1:00–3:00 p.m. at Episcopal High School in Trotter Lecture Hall (see enclosed map). Snacks and drinks will be provided. Although Breakthrough does not offer a summer school program as it does for middle school students, we will be telling you about some of the summer academic and enrichment programs and volunteering opportunities available in and outside of Houston. It’s time to start thinking about what your child will be doing this summer and there is sure to be something to meet everyone’s interests and needs. We also have a guest speaker from The School for Ethics and Global Leadership coming to talk about spending a semester in Washington D.C. at their school during the junior year. So, please do not miss it!

Please see the enclosed schedule of events and mark your calendars for our upcoming meetings. This semester we have lots more planned for our students and we hope to see all of our 9th and 10th graders at every meeting! As usual, please bring a copy of your most recent report card. Feel free to call or email Ms. Cepeda if you plan on attending the meeting or if you have any questions.

Thank you,
Kathy Heinzerling Christine Cepeda
Executive Director
College Readiness Coordinator
713-850-4032 or 832-567-5960

Spring 2010 Calendar of Events

  • January 9, 2010 Houston Hispanic Forum w/Mentors
  • 10:00 – 12:00 George R. Brown Convention Ctr.
  • January 30, 2010 Summer Opportunities Presentation
  • 1:00 – 3:00 for Parents and Students
  • Episcopal HS, Trotter Lecture Hall
  • February 20, 2010 Community Service Project w/Mentors
  • Time TBA Spring, TX – Cypress Springs Preserves in
  • March 27, 2010 College Visit w/Mentors
  • Time TBA St. Thomas University
  • April 10, 2010 Episcopal HS
  • 12:00 – 2:00 BTH College Workshop, Trotter Hall
  • 2:00 – 4:00 ISAS College Fair, Alkek & Crum Gyms
  • April 24, 2010 Closing Meeting & Party w/Mentors
  • 1:00 – 3:00 Episcopal HS, USC-Cafeteria
  • Summer 2010 BTH Alumni Social
  • Time & Date TBA Location TBD

From the North:

From 610 West Loop South, exit Fournace Place/Bissonnet Street. Merge onto West Loop Freeway South. Turn left on Fournace Place. EHS will be on your right, enter through Gate 3. Drive past the horse and knight statue, and you can park anywhere in Parking Lot D. From there, we will have signs posted to direct you to Trotter Hall in the South part of campus. It’s in the B Building, close to the library. (If Gate 6 is open off the 610 feeder street, you can park in Lot A as well)

From the South:

From 610 West Loop North, exit Fournace Place/ Bissonnet Street/ Bellaire Boulevard. Merge onto West Loop South. Turn right on Fournace Place. EHS will be on your right, enter through Gate 3. Drive past the horse and knight statue, and you can park anywhere in Parking Lot D. From there, we will have signs posted to direct you to Trotter Hall in the South part of campus. It’s in the B Building, close to the library. (If Gate 6 is open off the 610 feeder street, you can park in Lot A as well)