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Alex Serna, Director, Breakthrough SJC

For this son of immigrant parents from Mexico who barely had a middle school education, dropping out of high school while growing up in Anaheim seemed to be the only option. That was until he learned at 17 that he was going to be a father. That’s when Alex Serna enrolled at Santa Ana College, transferring to UC Berkeley where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in American Studies. With social policy knowledge under his belt, he tutored at an East Oakland high school and later in Boston at a private school. The first-generation college grad went on to earn his Master’s degree in Urban Education from UCLA. Today, he is the Executive Director of Breakthrough San Juan Capistrano, an after-school program that supports students from underrepresented backgrounds from middle school through college. The goal: to break the cycle of poverty through the power of education. Alex volunteers his time on advisory boards for nonprofits such as UCI’s School of Social Ecology and the Hispanic Education Endowment Fund. The father of four also serves as an expert on college access and educational policy and has been featured in publications such as The New York Times, Washington Post, The Hill, and Diverse Issues in Higher Education.

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