March 30, 2006

Summerbridge Breakthrough Alumni Network

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Dear SBAN Family,

In this newsletter, we will begin sharing the first of many stories that focus on the current lives of our alumni - what they are doing now, how SB/BT influenced their educational and career paths, their vision for SBAN and much more.  We are hoping that, like Vinita, other alumni will keep us updated on exciting moments in their lives - a birth, a marriage, a graduation, a new job, an award - we want to hear your stories!




Alumni Update - Vinita Ahuja 

Summerbridge/ Breakthrough Role:

Teacher, Atlanta 1998, 1999, 2001

Office intern and volunteer coordinator 1997-1998



M Ed. Candidate: Master of Education in School Leadership/ School Development, Harvard University Graduate School of Education.


"Math is Language!"

8 a.m. Monday morning. Atlanta in the summer. Seventh graders stand on top of the tables yelling, "Math is Language!" at the top of their lungs. How else to engage students with the material at hand? This is not a solution that most teachers in public schools would apply. But this was not public school. This was Summerbridge and for Vinita Ahuja, the strategy worked.

Of that 1999 class, over ninety percent students stayed involved in the Summerbridge program through their senior year in high school, and over ninety percent went to college. These numbers are a testament, not only to the power of the program and to creative teaching techniques implemented by high school-age and college-age teachers like Vinita, but also to a strong alumni component that followed the students through high school.

"Couldn't Get Rid of the Vibe"

Vinita walked down the stairs to the Summerbridge office at the beginning of the summer of 1998 ready to start her work as an office assistant. When she entered the office, she discovered her name on the list of math teachers written on the board. Her director had hoped to beat her to the office to break the news gently. Despite an unplanned introduction to teaching, Vinita "got hooked." She came back in 1999 and again in 2001

When Vinita began working at Summerbridge she dressed in browns and blacks. In her words, she "didn't want to call attention to [her]self." After a couple of summers teaching in the program, then-Atlanta director Keno Sadler pointed out the presence of a few more oranges and yellows in her wardrobe. Summerbridge "helped me come out of my own shell," she claims. Prior to her time in Summerbridge, Vinita would not have ventured up on top of a table to yell or sing. But, she grew as an individual during those summers; her confidence skyrocketed and she became comfortable leading activities in front of a crowd of people.

"You really have to get involved with kids to make a difference."

Summerbridge Atlanta alum Barry Petersen describes her by saying, "Vinita gives, gives, and gives.  I think she has made a career out of it."  All signs point that direction. Her career aspirations have evolved over time, beginning in high school with molecular biology. During college she leaned towards international development work, but by the end of college she had shifted the target of her ambitions. With so much need in the United States, she decided to stay local. Following college Vinita accepted a development and communications job with Community Family Life Services in Washington, DC, which works with homeless families. Through this organization, Vinita tutored homeless children who faced many obstacles, both social and educational. The understanding of the complexities of the lives of homeless children Vinita gained in D.C. motivated her to turn to graduate school for further training.


Joel Vargas Helps 'near miss kids' land in college

Joel VargasEven though Joel Vargas qualified for reduced-price lunches growing up, he says he never felt poor until his high school was dubbed one of the worst-performing in San Francisco. He was a straight-A student and at the top of his class. His parents thought he was bound for Harvard.

When he landed at a local summer program that helped prepare kids for rigorous college courses, he realized how much he didn't know.

"I met young people who were just so far ahead of me, who were not at the heads of their respective classes," he says. "It made me a little angry and mostly it motivated me."

It still motivates him today.

Through his research, advocacy, and grass-roots work at Jobs for the Future, Mr. Vargas looks for "better ways to move kids through the pipeline," and pushes higher-education officials to have a louder voice in the conversation about high-school reform.

Click here to see the full article.



Dr. Njema Frazier voted as one of America's Most Powerful Players Under 40


Dr. Njema FrazierDr. Njema Frazier has been honored by Black Enterprise Magazine as one of America's most "powerful players under 40". Included on this list are Shawn D. Baldwin, Trya Banks, Halle Berry, P. Diddy, and Jay-Z. Click here to see the full list.








Log-in & Check Out The New Look Of The SBAN Database


Tim RamlerHey SBAN,


I am happy to announce that our SBAN database has a new look and easier format. Some of the changes you will notice include...




A whole new look to your fellow alumni search results

Now, you can easily see alumni pictures and general information on each SBAN member. 


The all new "Control Panel"

  1. As soon as you log-in you will see your mini-profile which will allow you to easily update and edit your own information.
  2. Quick Database access links to helpful information such as Local and National Events, SBAN member searches, and job and internship opportunities.
  3. For your convinience, we have also included links to the SBAN homepage, The Breakthrough Collaborative, a list of your former SB/BT programs, and an opportunity to advertise your own web page and BLOG!

This is YOUR database.  If you have suggestions on how we can continue to improve this resource please email me at or call at 404-495-1805.



Hope you all enjoy!

-Tim "the tech guy" Ramler










    Phone: 404 495 1805

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