Behind the Scenes of the 2018 Breaking Through Ceremony

May 17, 2018


Twin Cities

Behind the Scenes of the 2018 Breaking Through Ceremony


At our events, the Genesys Works staff have the privilege of interacting with our interns, families, and supporters that reveal its true ethos. See below some of our staff’s most memorable moments from this year’s Breaking Through Ceremony. 

My favorite moment from the Breaking Through Ceremony was seeing Derek basking in his standing ovation after his amazing speech. Afterward, I was able to chat with Derek briefly and was so thrilled to hear him say how different it was presenting to the supportive audience and that they were very much on his side and he could feel that from the stage. He said he couldn’t wait to experience that again – and now he has the confidence and experience to know he can do anything!

Jennifer Rogers, Development Director

It was heart-warming being in the student room after the event.  There was a camaraderie between students that was awesome to witness.  Students congratulated the speakers, helped each other find misplaced items and seemed to have formed great friendships.

Heather Hirschey, Development Assistant

I met up with my ACHIEVER, Ge Thao, to congratulate him and see how he felt about the recognition and the ceremony. He told me that he felt surprised, but honored to receive the award. He added that the ceremony had been very motivational and inspirational for what is next to come in their lives! Although he didn’t have family there, he was really excited to go home and show him his award and told me he was planning to hang it up proudly!

Maya Hanson, Senior Program Coordinator

One of my favorite moments was when Emerson hijacked the microphone to get his 15 seconds of fame and give shout outs to his friends and family. It was a great energy builder and I love seeing his confidence! I also love this event because of how it brings alumni back to the GW family, and allows us to meet their families! It was special to see Class 8 alum, Khoa Ha, his fiancé, and their little baby! Seeing how his life has grown, hearing about his aspirations, and providing resources helps ground me in the work I do.

Jonelle Jones, College and Career Ready Internship Specialist

I have several memorable moments. The first was sitting right behind Derek’s family as he was speaking and seeing how deeply his words touched them. When he came off the stage, they gave him the biggest hugs – it was truly beautiful. Secondly, Patrick McCloskey was completely shocked and honored about being chosen for the ACHIEVER award – finding me afterwards for a big thank you and hug. Thirdly, I was swarmed by a big chunk of my summer cohort chanting “Team Mar-LIT.” Lastly, I met so many alumni who I had heard amazing things about, but never had a chance to talk to in person.

Marit Aaseng, Career Success Specialist

My most memorable moments were interacting with students after the event. I spoke backstage with our emcees who had just met Senator Klobuchar and done an incredible job speaking! Each of them were on full of excitement and exclaimed their desire to stay involved with Genesys Works after graduation. I was also greeted by Veronica Venegas, our CIO Luncheon keynote, with a huge hug after the event. These experiences made me so grateful for the community of people that are brought together through this program; the relationships developed between staff and students are so authentic that they last after their internship.

Courtney Stoesz, Marketing Manager

I stood near the auditorium exit as people were starting to leave after the ceremony. I could see that a College Possible Minnesota employee was standing just in front of me. As students were exiting, student after student approached her with hugs and high fives – they were clearly part of both programs. As she interacted with each of them, it was clearly an emotional moment for all involved and encapsulated the complementary collaboration that our two organizations have worked hard to achieve.

Alex Askew, Development Manager

It was amazing to see the joy on student’s faces as they reunited with their summer cohorts and reminisced on what they accomplished to get here. I got to talk to a few of my summer students as they shared out all they had accomplished so far as well as what their goals were for the future. One of my favorite parts of the event was seeing students, their families, and their supervisors engaging with one another. It was great to see these huge support systems laughing and celebrating the student and their hard work.

Grace Oribamise, Program Coordinator

I sat behind Derek’s family during the event – his dad (and family) were so proud to see Derek on stage as the keynote speaker. His dad recorded Derek’s entire speech. Derek’s supervisors were very proud as well! It was also fun reuniting with Class 1 and 2. What a great event!

Julie Vo, Program Coordinator

My memorable moment from BTC is when Richard Walker gave a shout out to “Bambi” (Adam Thao) during his remarks. Adam Thao was a very memorable student my first summer at GW. From being a ThinkIT scholar, to now landing a full-time job in IT with a great salary, it was awesome to hear about him making that transition to being a real working adult. In general, hearing about alums who are now working professionals was a great add at BTC this year.

Abbey Nelson, Senior Manager of Corporate Partnerships

I love being on stage to see Derek walk off to thunderous applause. I think he was genuinely surprised and pleased that people heard him and appreciated what he had to say! Seeing former staff members who could have been doing anything they wanted with their time drawn to come back, and, for one night, be a part of our mission again. Linnea, Jeff, Beth, May, Gao, Andrea and other believe in what we do!

Joel Crandall, Senior Director of College & Career Success

There were so many fantastic moments at our 2018 Breaking Through Ceremony!! One of my favorites: seeing the positive reaction from the audience — particularly our YPs — at the appearance and message by Senator Klobuchar.

Karen Marben, Executive Director

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