Aaron Velez attended three Breakthrough summers in middle school before moving to a different town in New Hampshire. Breakthrough arranged a college counseling meeting for Aaron and his mother this past fall. We didn't hear from him again until last month when he shared the news of his acceptance to Boston University, his first choice school, with a $50,000 per year scholarship. Aaron's remarkable college admission essay is below, used with permission.
I was born to a teenage mother and a drug-addicted
father. This piece of my history will
never change, parts of it define who I am, but growing up in this life has overwhelmingly been an experience I wouldn't change. I've seen struggle, heartache and depression, but I've also seen triumph, unity and love. Growing up amidst many of the deeper trials life can throw has made me see what's important and how the decisions made when you're young can affect the rest of your life. I've always felt that I had two choices, I could either bemoan the opportunities my parents weren't able to give me, or I could prove the world wrong and strive to be more.
Before I continue, I should add that my Dad has been clean for 16 years and started a career as a truck driver, my Mom went to night school and started her own piano business, they got married and I have 3 younger brothers. I guess we are some sort of success story now! But it seems that no matter how much distance I put between past and present, the one thing that never changes is the feeling of being out of place. This has certainly been one of the most difficult aspects of being born to teen parents. The differences between myself and my peers are glaringly obvious at times, especially since my parents moved us into a 600 square foot home in one of the wealthiest towns in the state so my brothers and I could go to good schools. This puts us in a category of 'different' that a lot of people don't understand. Yet different is also just another way of saying unique and I think being unique is one of the best things about me. I want my unique qualities and different experiences to set me apart and drive me towards my goals, and I have big goals!
College has always been my greatest aspiration. I hope to someday receive a Ph.D. in my field of study. I'm still discovering the road to that destination, but I've been dreaming about it since I was a small child. This dream began as an incredible love of learning. I have this unquenchable curiosity and a desire to know more. I read and search and think and ask and I remember!
I was able to apply to a special program called Breakthrough Manchester in 6th grade. This program was designed to help smart kids who were at-risk in the city where I lived. I was accepted and for 3 summers I dedicated my free time to education. I took my first chemistry course, learned about biology, physics and math, all while increasing my love for the STEM fields. I also met many kindred spirits in the young teachers and students learning alongside me. I came out of this program knowing that I never wanted my education to end!
I am incredibly excited about the idea of going to college. No one in my family: and this includes parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles have completed a normal college experience. I will be the first person in generations of my family on both sides to graduate from college. This is exhilarating but also intimidating. My biggest motivation is the idea that I could use my passion for knowledge and my experiences with limited opportunities to make my dreams a reality. I want to do more, I want to
be more. I believe that by pursuing a higher education, I can make a difference.