Teaching Fellow Alum Spotlight: José Fragoso

Breakthrough’s unique teaching fellow program gives young college students the opportunity to become relatable mentors to middle schoolers during Breakthrough’s summer program. Teaching fellows share their college experiences and accomplishments which inspire scholars and help them prepare for college and beyond. And, our teaching fellow program develops a future pipeline of education leaders. In fact, more than 75% of our teaching fellows go on to pursue careers in education. José Fragoso was one of them, but that wasn’t always his plan.

When José became a teaching fellow during Breakthrough Atlanta’s 2016 summer program, he was majoring in Telecommunications at Texas A&M University. His Breakthrough experience had such a profound impact that he decided to change his career path. He was already nearing the end of his college career so he finished his major, but he pursued career opportunities in education, serving as an advisor and mentor to help students like him get into college.

José accepted a job with the University of Georgia as a college advisor and he was placed in Meadowcreek High School in Gwinnett County where most of the school’s 700 seniors were Hispanic or Latino. As a first-generation college student himself, he was just 22 at the time and related to many of the students who were working to become the first in their families to go to college, and who faced barriers with the college admissions process. José helped students and their families navigate the admissions process and access financial aid and other resources.

“College admissions is not easily accessible in terms of language. I was translating a lot of it in Spanish,” he said. “Similar to what I did with my parents, I was trying to do that for other students and their families.”

Recognizing the important role he was playing in helping underrepresented students achieve the college dream, José furthered his education and earned a Master of Arts in Bilingual/Bicultural Childhood education at the Teachers College, Columbia University. Now, he serves as a College and Career Specialist with Gwinnett County Public Schools, and he reflects fondly on the significance of how his Breakthrough experience shaped his future.

  “The teaching experience and working with students was very rewarding.  After that summer, I realized that’s actually what I wanted to do.”