Rogelio, an 8th grader at Kilo Middle School, has faced more challenges in 14 years of life than most can even imagine.  He has been surrounded by gangs his whole life, and lost his oldest brother to gang violence, and another brother is currently incarcerated. When our School Outreach Coordinator, Ariassa Wilson first met Rogelio, he didn’t care for education or being at school, and he was very defiant to school staff and was being kicked out of class daily.

Rogelio and Ariassa formed a close bond quickly, realizing that they both had a lot in common, and he became a frequent flyer in her office. He joined Ariassa’s “Vision Bound” Boys Group,  checked in with her every day, and often worked on homework in Ariassa’s office. He struggled with reading, so he and Ariassa read the same book together, “7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens.” Ariassa even worked out a deal with Rogelio’s English teacher, that reading the book with Ariassa would count toward his class participation grade. Over time Ariassa and Rogelio’s teachers started to notice a change in him.  He was less distracting in class, was more productive, and more attentive, and his grades started to improve.

When Ariassa first met Rogelio, his main motivation for getting to high school was so that he could, “get into more fights with people his size.” By the end of the school year, this attitude changed. He genuinely cares about achieving in the classroom, and wants to make his mom proud and be a role model for his nephew. Wanting to expand his motivation for education even further, Ariassa took Rogelio, and a few other students, to the Expect More Become More Conference at Seattle Pacific University. There he was able to learn more about college, and how he can make his dream of starting a construction business come true. He was able to hear speakers from similar backgrounds, who overcame obstacles like the ones he is facing, to become successful adults. One of the seminars included Rogelio being able to build a business plan, and when we got to school the next Monday he bragged to the other students that he knows how to develop a business and that he was going to college.

Ariassa says, “being able to see him excited about achieving in life and making something of himself is priceless.” Just a few months ago he feared he would end up in prison or dead like his brothers, and now he asks, “Miss Rees, what college am I going to go to?”

Ariassa and Rogelio have created a special bond. She calls him “Right Hand Ro” and he calls her “Left Hand Reece Piece”.  Ariassa is extremely proud of the young man he has become.  Next year, Rogelio will be a Freshman at Thomas Jefferson High School, and Ariassa plans to be his mentor so she can continue with him on his path to success.