Ali Guerrero was struggling in school and thinking about dropping out. As a last resort he enrolled at WestSide High School his sophomore year, never imaging what a life-changing decision that would be.
At WestSide, Ali met GEAR UP coordinator Sheena Zacherele. GEAR UP is a federal program designed to prepare low-income students to succeed in postsecondary education. Sheena convinced (badgered, coerced, pleaded with) Ali to attend a Washington Business Week program offered at Western Washington University the summer after his sophomore year. Wenatchee Rotary Club sponsored the trip.
Once on campus for Business Week, Ali says he decided to get out of his comfort zone and talk to the other kids and what he heard surprised him. “They had goals. They were eager to do things. They took pride in their accomplishments,” says Ali. “I looked at myself and I hadn’t done anything. I didn’t even feel like I deserved to be there.”
Ali decided to change.