A Vail Valley youth education program expands its embrace | VailDaily.com

A Vail Valley youth education program expands its embrace

My Future Pathways is an additional part of the legendary Guardian Scholars

To learn more about My Future Pathways Go to myfuturepathways.org, email bratzo@myfuturepathways.org, or call 970-306-3123.

EDWARDS — The Guardian Scholars program generates more positive energy than The Little Engine That Could.

So it should surprise no one that about a year ago Guardian Scholars begat My Future Pathways. MFP already has 17 kids in college — mostly young men, and mostly first-generation immigrant families in the U.S.

Paradigms and pathways

Like Guardian Scholars, My future Pathways is not a charity — it’s a helping hand program that provides direction and guidance, and some scholarship money.

Think of it like this: A handout is what you get from the government. A hand up is what you get from a friend.

Everyone could use some help, including boys, said Bratzo Horruitiner, who started with Guardian Scholars and was tabbed by Guardian Scholar founder Ron Davis to launch My Future Pathways.

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A year or so ago, Horruitiner and Davis were wrapping up scholarship interviews and not one high school boy was eligible. Davis had never seen that before and decided he never wanted to see it again. They did some research and learned some sobering stuff:

  • Only 56% of first-generation boys in immigrant families graduate high school.
  • Only 11% of those who finish high school graduate college.

It’s a big problem and not easy to solve, Horruitiner said.

“In those families the emphasis is on hard work,” Horruitiner said. “We needed to help create a paradigm shift from hard work in a job to hard work on their education, whether it’s middle school, high school, college or vocational school. They’ll work hard on their training and education, which will lead to hard work in a better career.”

Pathways and paradigm shifts happen one kid at a time, one family at a time. MFP is a year-round, hands-on mentoring program.

“If they commit we can help them through college,” Horruitiner said.

You can get there from here

It’s something like a big family: the older kids help the younger kids, who will soon become older kids. They show each other that, yes, you can get there from here, and college is not the only pathway.

“When you start helping, you learn things,” Horruitiner said. “The college kids help the high schoolers. The high schoolers help the middle schoolers.”

Brandon Valeria, for example, is headed for medical school. He majored in biology with a concentration in molecular biology with a chemistry minor at Colorado Mesa University.

Jose Gonzales loves to make broken vehicles run again. He earned his bachelor’s degree in business from Colorado Mountain College. Davis is confident that Gonzales will own his own business.

Support, not supplant

My Future Pathways and Guardian Scholars do not supplant families, they support families, Davis said.

“The greatest gift any individual can have is loving, supportive and caring parents. Many are not so fortunate,” Davis said. “Guardian Scholars and My Future Pathways can never replace parents, but it does provide the love, encouragement and support in collaboration with parents.”

Davis’ business acumen is legendary, and part of that is spotting and coaching talent. He founded the Guardian Scholars program in 1998 at Cal State Fullerton and expanded it into Eagle County several years ago. Guardian Scholars is now at 70 colleges across America. My Future Pathways is a natural extension, Horruitiner said.

Colorado Mesa University President Tim Foster is a firm believer in the program, and CMU finds a home for many students in the program.

“This is right in our wheelhouse. He’s passionate about what we’re passionate about,” Foster said of CMU’s longtime partnership with Davis and the program.

Foster points out that the cost of a college education has increased 16 times more than the increase in the consumer price index since 1980, which puts it out of range for many families.

Davis is a big Foster fan. They met 15 years ago, right after Foster took CMU’s reins and began transforming the school.

“I have interfaced with countless college presidents. This guy (Foster) is the best one, bar none,” Davis said.

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