“I can honestly say that I am the person and educator I am today because of Breakthrough. I am excited to continue being a teacher and using my skills and passions to have a positive impact on people and the field of world language education.” – Julia Angeles

Education is a powerful tool that has the potential to transform lives. For Julia Angeles, a former Breakthrough student and Teaching Fellow, her experience with Breakthrough proved to be nothing short of transformative. From igniting her passion for learning French to laying the foundation for her career as a French teacher, Julia’s life-changing opportunities with Breakthrough have propelled her throughout her path as a student and educator.

At the age of 11, Julia was a shy student who had always enjoyed learning. However, it wasn’t until she joined Breakthrough Summerbridge in San Francisco that she truly discovered a community of like-minded individuals who shared her enthusiasm for education. Julia reflects, “I was with people who actually thought learning was cool.” Breakthrough provided her with a supportive environment where she could freely express her love for learning, which was a pivotal moment in her education.

Breakthrough not only nurtured Julia’s love for learning, but it also encouraged her to explore new subjects. She recalls her decision to take a French class at Breakthrough, which introduced her to a language she had never studied before. This experience opened doors to new opportunities and became a catalyst for her future career as a French teacher. Taking French at Breakthrough led her to study French all four years of high school, major in French in college, study abroad in France, and eventually become a French teacher. Julia emphasizes, “If I had not taken French at Breakthrough, I can’t even imagine what I would be doing now.” Breakthrough became the stepping stone to what would eventually become Julia’s passion and life’s work. 

After her time at Breakthrough, Julia was inspired to give back as a Teaching Fellow. At just 16 years old, she returned to Breakthrough Summerbridge in San Francisco to teach French. Julia remarks that the Teaching Fellow experience was instrumental in her development as an educator as it provided hands-on teaching experience, exposed her to the inner workings of a school, and equipped her with practical skills like lesson planning, curriculum development, and classroom management.

This training and mentorship laid a strong foundation for Julia’s career as a teacher. She notes that the practical experience she gained at Breakthrough during her four summers as a Teaching Fellow complemented her college education studies and even her graduate program. “I came into my career with knowledge and support,” Julia recalls, “which helped me hit milestones relatively early.”

Julia’s experiences at Breakthrough gave her the confidence to step into her own classroom and navigate the challenges of teaching early on. This strong foundation has paid extraordinary dividends in her professional career.

In fact, recently Julia became the recipient of the 2023 California Language Teachers’ Association Outstanding Teacher Award. Julia was one of four teachers across the state of California to receive this year’s award, which is “bestowed on a world languages and culture educator who exemplifies exceptional qualities of an educator that demonstrate a passion for teaching and learning.” 

Julia Angeles’s journey from Breakthrough student to French teacher is a testament to the transformative power of Breakthrough. Both as a student and Teaching Fellow, she found a community that celebrated her love for learning and inspired her to pursue her passions. The practical training and mentorship she received equipped her with the skills and confidence needed to become a successful educator. 

As a French teacher and now chair of her school’s World Language department, Julia continues to pay it forward, using her experiences from Breakthrough to shape the lives of her own students. Breakthrough truly made a lasting impact on Julia’s journey, and her story serves as an inspiration to all aspiring educators.


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