Setting goals and meeting them is something most of us don’t master until later in life. For Vanessa Lozano, it’s a skill she’s been fine-tuning since she joined Boys Hope Girls Hope (BHGH) in sixth grade.
The personal growth that Lozano experienced during her six years in the BHGH program represents the kind of skill development and value embodiment that the program strives to provide to all scholars. Now a college graduate and an owner of her own business, Lozano credits BHGH with helping to establish a strong foundation and for providing her opportunities she wouldn’t have otherwise had access to.
“Boys Hope Girls Hope introduced me, somebody who’s first generation in this country, to what could be,” said Lozano. “It opened my eyes to all of these opportunities and gave me people who believed in me, guiding me through anything that I wanted to do.”
From the start, BHGH provided Lozano with the tools to be successful in her education, and they continually supported her beyond the classroom, nurturing her emotional, social and physical well-being, too.
Lozano received educational support like uniforms and textbooks, plus tutoring and a welcoming community in the Academy program. Lozano spent her days in class with other BHGH scholars, plus her after-school and often extracurricular time at the BHGH Learning Center together; all of that time with the same cohort of scholars created a community that felt like family.
That family-like comradery that Lozano came to depend on was strengthened by BHGH staff and volunteers who mentored her throughout her entire journey. Lozano received more than just academic and extracurricular help from her mentors – she experienced first-hand what it was like to have someone believe that you could achieve a goal, and what it looks like to enable you to get there.
In eighth grade, Lozano was offered an opportunity to travel to Europe on a 25-day trip. One of her mentors at the time could sense her excitement at the opportunity – Lozano had always wanted to explore the world outside of her community – and she committed to helping Lozano find a way to get there. Despite the financial constraints of her family, her mentors, including Mia Foster and her mother Marla Foster, stepped in to help. They not only supported her in fundraising efforts but also assisted with logistics, overcoming language barriers that her parents faced. It was so much more than a trip – it was a lesson to Lozano in compassion, giving back, and achieving your goals.
“What it taught me in return was that these volunteers are doing so much for me, that it makes me want to give back to my community. Whether that’s volunteer hours or passing it forward, helping younger scholars, whatever it is that I can do for my community to make a difference.”
That European trip would become a defining moment for Lozano’s future. It ignited her desire to continue experiencing worlds outside of the one she knew, and it instilled in her the importance of being a contributing member of the community she had surrounding her.
Lozano graduated high school with her sights set on college, the first in her family to do so. She had always wanted to be an immigration lawyer; after seeing what her parents and relatives went through in pursuit of a better life she wanted to help make that process easier for others in similar situations.
As decision-making time grew closer, BHGH facilitated career testing for scholars. Lozano was shocked at one of the suggested careers: interior design. That itch to experience something different, backed with the confidence that had been nurtured for years, led her to pursue something foreign to her.
Kim Alvin, another key mentor, played a significant role in Lozano’s path. She assisted Vanessa with scholarship applications, entrance exams, and university admissions, often going above and beyond by adjusting to Vanessa’s schedule.
Lozano graduated from Arizona State University and launched her own business, Designs Del Mar. Using the skills she learned from her college courses, and the foundation of discipline and goal-setting she built during her time at BHGH, she now runs her own social media management and graphic design firm for local businesses in Arizona.
“In the future, I want to establish and grow my business more and explore other creative outlets. This habit of setting goals, making them actionable, and then tracking them has been ingrained in me from Boys Hope Girls Hope, and I still use it now.”
In essence, Vanessa Lozano’s journey serves as a shining testament to the power of personal growth and community support coming full circle. While she has achieved her own aspirations, she remains committed to uplifting those who played a pivotal role in her journey.
Vanessa’s deep-rooted love for her community and appreciation of its diverse culture is evident in her work, as she passionately supports local businesses in Phoenix. Through her collaborations, she not only offers exceptional social media and graphic design services but also helps these businesses forge profound connections with their communities—a positive ripple effect that extends far beyond her individual success.
Vanessa’s story exemplifies the transformative impact of Boys Hope Girls Hope and the profound influence it has on shaping not only the lives of its scholars but also the communities they touch. It underscores the importance of mentorship, personal growth, and giving back—a legacy that Vanessa continues to embody and share with the world.
Boys Hope Girls Hope of Arizona levels the educational playing field and addresses workforce development challenges by acting as a bridge to opportunity, supporting students from middle school through college graduation and into career launch.
Whether you’re a young person seeking support, a mentor willing to guide, or a donor wanting to make a difference, there’s a place for you at Boys Hope Girls Hope AZ. Get involved.