Meet Lindsey Benjamin

When I applied to Breakthrough during my sophomore year at the University of Maryland, I had absolutely no intention of becoming a teacher. After spending the previous summer locked away in a research lab plugging numbers into an Excel spreadsheet, I longed for a dynamic, challenging experience. A few months later, I found myself sitting through a two week orientation session with the purpose of “teaching me how to teach.” After just a few hours of the Breakthrough training, my perception of the teaching profession completely changed. Teaching writing to seventh and eighth grade students would extend far beyond marking up literary essays with red ink. Teaching meant understanding the cognitive, emotional, and social factors that impact the adolescent experience.

Immediately as I stepped inside the classroom on that first day with the students, I felt a fire ignite inside of me. I was not aware in that moment, however, that I was about to embark on the most transformative six weeks of my life. The hours were long, taxing, and at times, difficult to bear. But for every moment that doubt clouded my mind, there was something to remind me why I was there. Such as the moment when a quiet seventh grader left me trembling with her poem that demonstrated a level of emotional complexity that I had not thought was possible for a 12 year-old girl to possess. Or the moment when my students’ eyes lit up with excitement in Psychology Club as they constructed their very own neurons out of marshmallows and pretzel sticks. The collection of seemingly small moments such as these throughout that summer ended up shaping my future by leading me to my passion – teaching.

I now intend to spend the rest of my life in the education field, encouraging students to realize the beauty of their potential. After graduating from the University of Maryland this past May, I have been blessed with an amazing opportunity to teach English in Spain through a 9-month Fulbright Scholarship. When I return, I intend to pursue a teaching career in an urban charter school.

Even beyond shaping my life trajectory, however, Breakthrough has given me a community of the most passionate, hard-working, incredible people united by their relentless commitment to educational equity. To me, Breakthrough is home, which is why I just can’t seem to leave! I returned last summer as a Teaching Fellow and am now back for a third summer in a new role of High School Internship Coordinator.  To me, this community is exactly what Margaret Meade was talking about when she told us “to never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world, Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.Breakthrough has transformed me, taught me, challenged me, inspired me, and made me - and I will be forever grateful.