May Magazines 2018 89128 - Page 66

Making a Difference “I experienced a lot of bullying, and no one liked me very much. It was hard, I had no one…I started wondering what was the point in graduating,” said Sosa, who spent three years in Junior ROTC before joining JAG. As an immigrant, Sosa found it difficult to fit in with new class- mates in a new country. He became mean, explosive, and easily provoked, starting his fair share of fights. The isolation proved too much, and he fell prey to deep depression and withdrew. Yet, once he joined JAG and met his specialists Josh Arredondo and Gina Rivera, Sosa found acceptance that gave him a renewed outlook. “My mentors told me I wasn’t just destroying my life; my actions were hurting others. That really hit me. I was so scared of other people hurting me, I created a shield and would hurt people first,” said Sosa. “For the first time, they helped me care about myself and my future, and I’ve been accepted to multi- ple colleges. People say that I’ve done a 180: I’m nice, I care, I listen to others. Once I let people in, I became a social person my senior year.” An integral part of the program’s success lies in its JAG special- ists who wear multiple hats: they are teachers, mentors, par- ents, friends, cheerleaders, and compassionate individuals. “There is no barrier too big or too small for our JAG specialists, they will help students confront it,” said Cantu. “If we have a homeless student, the specialist will seek resources that pro- vide temporary housing, clothing, and food so they can make it to class; if a student has a high absentee rate, the specialist will call them every morning and pop into their classes throughout the day to make sure they are present.” Gales, who is set to graduate from Bonanza High School in May, felt that bond early on with his specialist, Dion Lee. Gales found someone who believed in him, kept him accountable, and most importantly, didn’t judge his past mistakes. “My mom, who is a single mother to six children, moved my sib- lings and I to Las Vegas from California,” said Gales. “We are constantly moving from place to place, and we’ve been home- less a few times. Being a middle child, I had to grow up quick to take care of my younger siblings while my mom was working to provide for our family.” In middle school, Gales was always causing trouble. He was expelled after a fight with another student and forced to under- go a three-month boot camp program, which he describes as “brutal.” In high school, he was introduced to Lee, who is also his football coach. Gales currently lives in a weekly motel across 66 May/June 2018 Isabelle West at Tesla. town from his school, but his quest for a high school diploma and his special relationship with his specialist gets him up every morning to take the Z\\YHۘ[HY '\YH[Y^H^Hو[[[H^HHY]YK8'BZY[\ˈ8'H[HXX]\Hو^H\[\[\ˈ]\ܚ[\\[KH[XY]H[][H[[YH[^HY\XK^H[\[\X[]\Z\\X\HY[ZHH]HHقZYۈ^H[\XY]H\]H[][KB[][^H^KH[[]H]]H^[\H܈^B[[\X[[][Hۛ]8&\XK'B[\]\[ܙYXHܚ]XH\[\]Y[H\ Z[X]XܚYXK8'^H\^H\ˈB[^\]\^[[YܙH\[[][YH\۸&]X[H\\[YKH]\]H\ HB]\][\[^H]\HX\[[H\˸'B]Y\[X]\Q]YHH\ܘYX][ۈBܘ[\\]QXX[\۝[YHY[܈HY[\[Z\\YX\Y\ܘYX][[\HHX\ٝ[[][ۈ[YHY\Y 'ۙHو\\[[\\\X[H\ H[H[[Y\QY[][[H\HYYXܞH[[܈؈[\Y]8'HZY[K8'Z[ۈH[H]BYYXܞH[ܚ[[ۙYH[[Y\\Y\[\\[[[Y\[ˈ\X[H\][[XYBYXY[][]HYKX\[[[H˜\\\XYH[[[Y\[۝[YH\ܚ]\K'