Breakthrough was meant to be!
Story of BTM Student & Teaching Fellow Alumna
“My college journey started when I was 11 and I know if it wasn’t for the continuous support, encouragement, and opportunities supplied by Breakthrough Manchester that I wouldn’t be the nurse I am today!”
A series of near misses almost cost 11-year-old Lainee Shaughnessy her chance to connect with Breakthrough Manchester (then Summerbridge) at The Derryfield School. Years later the stars aligned more clearly for her. She recently returned to Manchester as Derryfield’s school nurse and an advisor to Breakthrough students who attend Derryfield as participants in the Amoskeag Scholar Program - Lainee has come full circle!
The day Kate Erskine and Trevor Munhall visited Weston School to share the power of Breakthrough and how a commitment to this program could change the trajectory of students’ futures, Lainee was absent. However, Lainee’s guidance counselor did not let this opportunity pass by and saved an application for her. Lainee, who loves to fill out forms, launched right into the 16-page application.
Weeks later, Lainee had not received an acceptance letter and couldn’t wait any longer, she asked her mother to call Breakthrough, only to learn that her letter had been lost in the mail. Trevor assured Linda her daughter had been accepted and Lainee’s Breakthrough journey began. “School in the summer was icing on the cake” for Lainee who loved to learn!
The energy and enthusiasm of Teaching Fellows and older students nearly overwhelmed the shy, studious Lainee on her first day of Breakthrough. Before long, Lainee looked up to Teaching Fellows like Allison Fink and Lauren Bradley; by the end of the summer, she wanted to be just like them. “Breakthrough teachers, when you were a student, were the coolest! They were smart, competent, and outgoing, they advocated for themselves and they were able to foster a sense of community around them - they seemed super cool!”
Each fall Lainee connected with Breakthrough to see when she could be a Teaching Fellow. Once eligible, she volunteered as a school year teaching intern her junior and senior years at Derryfield; spent two summers teaching Biology, helping students dissect lamb hearts as she had once done; and took on the role of Operations Coordinator for two college summers. This was a perfect fit for Lainee’s organizational skills and love of Breakthrough.
Without Breakthrough, Lainee wouldn’t have gone to college and especially not to college in Seattle! After a three-week Semester at Sea program in high school, Lainee realized the world was vast, and New England was just a small piece of it. On a trip to Seattle to see relatives, Lainee discovered Seattle University, a school that felt like a good next step.
After being the first in her family to graduate from college with a BS in science and nursing, Lainee launched her career as an ER nurse. As COVID-19 spread through the Pacific Northwest, Lainee remained on the frontline of healthcare workers for months while planning the next chapter of her life.
Just as she was considering a career change and moving back to New Hampshire to spend time with family, Lainee received a call from an unknown 603 phone number. The call was from Derryfield Head of School Mary Carter, who was reaching out with a potential opportunity. Derryfield needed someone to lead the School’s health and wellness programs going forward. Lainee accepted this chance to join her former teachers and mentors as a colleague and guide the School through a global pandemic and beyond. The perpetual student, Lainee is also pursuing her Masters in Nursing Education at SNHU.
“I feel like I’m making much more of an impact at Derryfield than I was in the ER. Here I feel like the things that I’m doing have a much larger impact and that feels really, really good, almost like saving a life!