Deserted by his mother, 17-year-old Derick Escobar grew up in Highland, CA with his father and younger brother and sister. With only 45 high school credits to his name by the time he reached 11th grade, and with repeated run-ins with the law, Escobar was running out of opportunities.

Escobar acknowledges that his high school attendance counselor could have kicked him out of school. But she saw potential and instead suggested he turn to the ChalleNGe Program. After waiting one semester to meet the age requirement, Derick applied and was accepted. And what a difference it has made in his life.

According to Derick: “I got to meet new people. I learned about leadership by leading my platoon. Community service was something I really liked. My GPA went from a 0.0 to a 3.4 when I graduated in June of 2004. My mentor kept me motivated for the whole program and is a person who I can really count on. He is still there for me and always reminds me to stay focused on my goals. Currently I am attending Grizzly Technical Academy and learning about computers. I want to go to college and join the Reserves so I can get money for college and then become a pilot. Grizzly helped me see a future where before there was just a black hole! It was the best experience of my life.