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 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. She knew that her family didn’t have the economic resources for her to take that kind of trip. One of her mentors at the time, Mia Foster, 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.

Foster enlisted the help of her own mother, Marla Foster, and together she and Lozano came up with fundraising ideas that could make thetrip financially feasible. Beyond that, Marla attended the planning meetings and helped Lozano through logistics when her parents couldn’t because of the language barrier. 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,” said Lozano. “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.

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.

“In the future, I want to establish and grow my business more and explore other creative outlets,” said Lozano. “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.”

Lozano’s dedication to her future and goals, and more importantly her knowledge of the steps to take to achieve them, are illustrious examples of the foundation that BHGH works to cultivate in all scholars.