Success Stories

Carlos - Phoenix

Author: BHGH Web Admin/Monday, February 17, 2014/Categories: National Success Stories

Carlos - Phoenix

Phoenix scholar CARLOS O. became a champion debater while at Phoenix’s Brophy Preparatory Academy. He’s a superstar within the National Forensics League—the governing body of high school competitive speech and debate. His specialty is Congressional Debate, a particularly demanding style of debate modeled upon the rules and methods used in the United States Congress. “It’s a very formal style of debate,” Carlos says. “It’s based on mutual respect, and you maintain a very formal demeanor throughout the debate. It works just like Congress—you debate legislation, and you have to support your case.”

He’s one of the top five Congress-style debaters in the country. Over the last three years, he’s taken home over 40 awards, and recently competed in the Harvard National Congress, one of the most prestigious debate tournaments in the country.

What leads a young person into this arena? Carlos says it wasn’t exactly planned.

“It kind of happened by accident,” he says. “I needed to take a summer school class before my freshman year of high school, and I saw a class called ‘Forensics’ on the schedule. I thought it was forensic pathology, and that sounded interesting, but when I got there, I saw that it had nothing to do with science.”

But if it was an accident, it was a fortunate one, because it gelled with one of Carlos’ long-time interests: politics. “I’ve always been a fan of politics,” he says. “I always followed it. Debate gives me the chance to do more than just read about it.”

One of five siblings, Carlos’ family struggled with many of the challenges facing first-generation American families, so he’s had good reason to be interested in politics, having experienced firsthand how policy affects people. His family valued education and worked hard to get Carlos into Brophy Prep, but an economic crisis threatened his future at the school. His mother reached out to Boys Hope Girls Hope and our Phoenix Affiliate’s Executive Director, Tami Bohannon found an “angel” donor who was willing to underwrite Carlos’scholarship to the program.

“I love it,” he says of Boys Hope Girls Hope. “What the program offers is incredible. It gives you a place to stay, amenities—all you have to do is to stay on track and be responsible. It’s the best deal anyone ever offered me.”


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In Illinois...


  • In the seven-county area of Metropolitan Chicago, almost 30% (172,000) of children live in zip codes where risks to their well-being (lacking family support, inadequate access to quality health care, poor educational opportunities, high crime rates, and high parental unemployment rates).


  •  High schools in the Chicago metro area have dropout rates higher than the state average.


  • In the Chicago City Public School District, the rate of students graduating from high school within four years is 61.8%.


How Boys Hope Girls Hope meets that need:


  • 80% of the youth we serve are in the racial minority.


  • The majority of youth in our care have no immediate family member with a college degree. 


  • Almost all of the youth we serve come from dangerous neighborhoods and experienced a lack of supervision.


  • Our college retention rate is 89-94%, compared to the national average of 66%.


  • All local Illinois scholars participate in extra-curricular and civic programs and engage in countless hours of service learning.  Nearly 70% receive academic honors at their schools.


  • Since 1996, over 80% of the youth who became part of the program have remained in the program through high school graduation.


  • Nationwide, since 1991, 100% of our U.S. alumni have gone on to college.


  • Since 1996, Boys Hope Girls Hope of Illinois has averaged a 77% retention rate of students in college.


  • Our alumni across the country are successful professionals, responsible community members, and nurturing spouses, fathers and mothers. 


Since 1991, 100% of Boys Hope Girls Hope alumni have gone on to college or another post-secondary educational institution.