From Childhood Sacrifices to the Ivy Leagues
Erika is a sophomore at Brown University. She is happy studying to become the surgeon she always wanted to be.
But Erika’s journey was not easy.
She is the daughter of immigrants—the first of her family born in the United States and the first to graduate high school. Her parents, in fact, never made it past the 5th grade. Therefore, maintaining a stable job was difficult for either one of them. This meant making sacrifices most people never face. Many months they were forced to make difficult decisions, which necessity could they go without? Water, gas, electric, food—there were many times when they had to sacrifice one for the other. Putting food on the table but eating by candle light, their house having no electricity.
As immigrants, Erika’s parents lived day to day with the fear of separation or losing their home, fears that weighed heavily on Erika through her elementary school years. She found it difficult to focus on school or just being a kid.
But when Erika reached the 5th grade, her life took a big turn. She was matched with her mentor, Cecilia, at New Pathways for Youth. At the time, she had no idea what this meant for her, but a decade later, she can say exactly what it has meant to her:
- It meant having someone who is willing to listen, provide advice and help you to achieve your goals.
- It meant having someone who helped her organize a bake sale to be able to go on school trips and see possibilities she never knew existed.
- It meant that she had the ability to know how to apply to elite universities and compete amongst peers who had better elementary and high school education than she did.
- It meant gaining important life skills she needed in order to leave home in Phoenix and be prepared with a steady support system to help her live on the East Coast…and in the snow!
- It meant having a constant source of guidance amidst all the unsteadiness she felt and knew in her home and in a violent neighborhood.
- It meant nurturing a dream that lived inside her.
New Pathways for Youth made Brown University and Erika’s future life in medicine the new possibility she could have never imagined on her own. So much so, that she is now a mentor at Brown!
Erika’s story shows us that every at-risk youth presents an opportunity to those more fortunate who would take up the struggle for better outcomes—outcomes made possible by New Pathways for Youth and our transformative mentoring program.
Running Towards a New Future
A 1.2 GPA, no future ahead, and looking down the barrel of being another statistic. This was Ignacio’s (Nacho for short) reality before joining New Pathways for Youth. Ignacio’s guidance counselor pointed him in the direction of New Pathways and changed his life forever. With the guidance of his mentor, Nacho not only stayed in school but thrived academically and in sports. Nacho graduated in 2016 with a 4.2 GPA and a full ride scholarship for academics and track to Notre Dame!
Nacho is also a man of his word. Something he learned from his mentor and the curriculum at New Pathways. Being a man of his word there is one more amazing thing that Nacho did before he left for college in early July 2017. He made a promise to himself to join the Army and then attend college a few years ago—in that specific order. He wanted to honor this commitment. So, he graduated early (December 2016) and completed basic training for the National Guard Army Reserves in January 2017 before leaving for college at Nortre Dame this summer. He found a way to honor his word!
New Pathways is so proud of Nacho. To hear his story in his own words watch the video of his speech at our Annual Breakfast in 2017.
Breaking through Goals
Mark is one of our amazing graduates of New Pathways for Youth’s 2004 Youth program.
By that start of Marks junior year of high school, he had dropped out and only had 3.5 credits towards graduation. Most of his family was in jail or prison. He knew he was making the wrong choices, but he needed guidance.
“I knew I didn’t want that type of life, I just didn’t know how to choose something different. I didn’t have an adult who stuck around long enough to show me the way.”
That all changed when Mark signed up for his first program at New Pathways. It was then that Mark was matched with Wendell. As their relationship grew, Wendell pushed Mark to accomplish his goals. Wendell showed Mark that all he had to do to be successful was put his mind to what he really wanted to achieve and stay focused. Wendell alongside New Pathways for Youth taught Mark to set goals, to lead by example, and to be a man of his word.
Because of this guidance, not only did Mark go back to school, he stayed in school and graduated valedictorian of his class!!
A decade later Mark still uses the lessons he learned from Wendell and New Pathways. Mark recently set a goal to get a promotion with his employer of six years, and he did just that, gaining the promotion and moving up in the company!
Mark attributes his success in life to being surrounded by people who genuinely care for him and wanted to help him succeed. To this day Mark and Wendell have a great deal of love and respect for each other. They are still great friends who are constantly there for the other, and Mark knows that his community at New Pathways always has his back.