Our Neighbor: Destination Graduation

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by CYNTHIA IZAGUIRRE

WFAA

Posted on January 27, 2011 at 4:07 PM

DALLAS- Thursday's Our Neighbor is setting up at risk high school students for success.

The United Way's Destination Graduation Program is helping make dreams come true for students who want to go to college but need the right test scores to get there.

At Thomas Jefferson High School, The United Way of Metropolitan Dallas's Destination Graduation initiative is helping "at risk" students excel.

"I want to be the first in my family to go to college," said Jose Balderas

Balderas is one of nine TJ students featured on this year's cover of the Dallas Yellow Pages.

"This lady walks up to me and says hey I've seen you somewhere," Balderas said."I was like really? And she said yea on the yellow pages! She says yea you're that guy and I just can't help but laugh and smile"

Jose was honored for improving his SAT scores. He credits the help he got from United Way's Destination Graduation Princeton Review Course.

"They teach you new strategies and techniques to take the tests and make your score better," Balderas said.

The Destination Graduation Princeton Review Course at Thomas Jefferson High School has been very instrumental for students. Jose said it helped his SAT scores dramatically.

"My score before was 1230 and it improved 310 points too," Balderas said.

"He's a really good example of what you can get done if you set your mind to it and you've got people willing to help you," said Gary Godsey, United Way of Metropolitan Dallas.

Jose is one of six children. He wants to go to the University of Texas at Austin to major in Math, get a good job and help out his family.

"I want to help them and make their lives easier and better and probably help them move to like a better neighborhood i guess," Balderas said with a smile.

Right now Balderas is working toward graduation and hoping those new test scores get him a full ride.

The destination graduation program is available at several schools in the Dallas and Plano Independent School Districts. The plan is to expand to other districts this fall.

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