SOS Outreach celebrates graduates
EAGLE COUNTY — SOS Outreach is celebrating the graduation of the youth outdoor outreach program’s high school seniors. The nonprofit congratulates Oliver Pilas and Josue Velasco from Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy; Vladimir Carbajal, Mariah Dermody and Mario Terrazas from Eagle Valley High School; and Rita Gutierrez and Maricruz Cornelio from Battle Mountain High School. These seven students have demonstrated extreme dedication to SOS Outreach over the past several years.
Alongside their peers, these SOS participants have bright futures ahead. Whether they plan on working full time, attending university close to home or, for Pilas, traveling across the world to study in New Zealand, they plan to continue to contribute to their communities, near and far.
SOS Outreach is a youth development program that helps at-risk youth overcome obstacles to lead healthy and successful lives. SOS is unique in providing long-term engagement and serving at-risk youth ages 8 to 18 nationally by combining outdoor activities, a core value curriculum, group mentoring, leadership workshops and service learning opportunities in the community.
SOS Outreach has 57 participants graduating from high school nationally this year. Many high school-aged participants have maintained a high level of commitment to SOS by participating in the program for over six years. They graduated from the Academy Program, as well as the four-year University Program. Many have moved on to the intensive Masters program and beyond to become mentors for incoming SOS youth.
Pilas completed the SOS program and returned this year as a mentor (Sherpa) for other students. He recently graduated from Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy, which he attended through a partnership with SOS.
“I joined SOS because it sounded like an amazing opportunity, too good to be true,” he said. “I was inspired, learning to snowboard and overcome obstacles with my friends. … Having now graduated from the SOS University Program, moving on to the SOS Masters Program and eventually becoming a Sherpa myself with six kids under my leadership, I can say for certain that I’m not the same person I was before SOS. I like to believe I’ve done a small part in helping my kids along their paths to success, but in reality, they’ve helped me along mine as well.”
Terrazas completed the SOS Masters Program this year, rising to the challenge of the curriculum and becoming an all-star junior mentor.
“I want to become a teacher. Many friends have tried to convince me otherwise, telling me that I won’t make much money. But I’ve told them that I’m not in it for the money. I want to help make a positive difference. Through all that SOS has taught me, I know what I want to become and without this program, I don’t know what would have become of me,“ she said.
SOS Outreach staff say they are excited to see what this group has to offer to a world where they bring an understanding of the importance of core values, support and giving back to their communities. There’s no doubt they’ll continue to “spread the love.”