Fabian Ortiz-Hernandez

Breakthrough Silicon Valley Class of 2017
Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Class of 2022, Five-Year BAchelor of Architecture

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Fabian Ortiz-Hernandez remembers his introduction to Breakthrough well. It started with a note from the school office that arrived during his 6th grade science class. “As the teacher called my name, my heart sank,” he recalls. He imagined a conference with the principal – a call to his parents. Getting in trouble, as he puts it, would have only made what was already a disappointing year, even worse. To his surprise, the note was an invitation to a meeting about Breakthrough Silicon Valley. He’d been recommended because of his academic potential. “I went. And by the end of the meeting, I was holding an envelope with the application.”

Confidence and a 4.0

As his first Breakthrough summer started, Fabian initially grumbled about having six more weeks of academics beyond the school year. But, he says, “Breakthrough was actually a blessing in disguise. With every summer my confidence grew…my ability to speak began to take flight. In addition, the homework actually made the school year easier for me. I finished my first semester of 8th grade with a perfect 4.0!”

Like-minded Peers

Before Breakthrough, Fabian had difficulty finding like-minded peers. At Breakthrough, for the first time, he was surrounded by friends who shared his academic motivation and dreams of attending college. He’d found his niche.

Today, Fabian is a confident young man with a broad smile, who loves a good laugh. When it comes to his plans for the future though, he is deadly serious. He will be among the first generation in his family to attend college. “College has always been my goal, but without Breakthrough, I would never have aimed so high.”  He remembers fondly how his mother always urged him to work hard. She didn’t have the chance to attend college in Mexico. He hopes to thank his family properly one day by designing a house for them when he becomes a professional architect.

I was scrolling through social media and saw that two of my former classmates from middle school were being tried for murder…I felt a shower of gratitude as I realized how fortunate I was to be part of Breakthrough.

Shaping the Future

Fabian understands the future is now his to shape. He describes the moment this became clear.  “I was scrolling through social media and saw that two of my former classmates from middle school were being tried for murder. I was never really close with either of these guys, but the fact that I had shared classes with them stunned me. I felt a shower of gratitude as I realized how fortunate I was to be part of Breakthrough.”

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