“Boys Hope Girls Hope is a family and that’s what made my experience easier on me. I always had someone to turn to when I needed it."
From the time he was born in Aurora, Colorado, until he was 15, Andy Guerrero and his three younger sisters lived with their mother and father, who immigrated to the US from Mexico.
Andy’s life changed dramatically one day, when the police knocked on the door, looking for someone else and realized his father was an undocumented worker. A week later, Andy’s father was taken into custody, held in a detention center for eight months and then deported to Mexico.
Andy’s life was thrown into chaos as he and his mother worked to support the family, while Andy continued to go to high school. After trying to make it work for some time, Andy’s mother and sisters joined their father in Mexico and Andy spent the rest of his high school years staying with different families he had met through church. He worked part-time jobs at a sports arena and fast food restaurant to support himself and his family.
When Andy was a sophomore, his teacher recommended Boys Hope Girls Hope’s academy program. “I was there every day after school until high school was over,” Andy said. “It was the one thing that was always comfortable and something that I knew.” Andy said he had a consistent routine. He would go to high school, then Boys Hope Girls Hope, then to his part-time job, back to where he was staying to do his homework, to bed and then start again. “Boys Hope Girls Hope is a family and that’s what made my experience easier on me. I always had someone to turn to when I needed it. They were always there, always checking up on me academically and even in my personal life.”
Andy will be graduating this summer from Colorado Mesa University with a major in Hispanic Studies. He was awarded the prestigious Horatio Alger Award which “assists high school students who have faced and overcome great obstacles to pursue their dreams through higher education.” While in college, Andy became an Emergency Medical Technician. Andy will work for Colorado Mesa University as an advisor to students who share the struggles he’s experienced. In the longer run, he plans to join the fire academy and work as a fire fighter in Colorado.
Mary Fran Tharp, Executive Director of Boys Hope Girls Hope Colorado, said, “Andy is driven to do the hard work and change his circumstances, so he can help his family change theirs. He has a wonderful faith life and is very involved in the local Catholic church as well as the Catholic community on campus. He builds community. He is honest, humble, acts with integrity, asks for help when he needs it, accepts suggestions and says thank you!”
Andy said the most important aspect of Boys Hope Girls Hope for him has been the relationships he’s formed. “You create new relationships that aren’t temporary or the kind that comes and go. I’ll have these relationships for the long run.” For Andy’s graduation, friends and family put together a video of congratulatory messages. Andy was touched by the many messages from the Boys Hope Girls Hope family, including a special message from David Steward, founder of World Wide Technology, who Andy met through Boys Hope Girls Hope and the Horatio Alger Association.
Andy describes success as “Learning that you can’t have control over everything.” He said, “As many times as things go south, being able to reconnect with yourself and grow from it. That’s what success is—achieving small things. From the small things it becomes a snowball effect and you start achieving more.”
Pictured in photos from top to bottom: 1. Andy 2. Andy with his family 3. Andy with his mentor family