When Ruben Urbina was in the fifth grade his parents separated, sending his life into turmoil, he said. The youngster turned to his uncles, brothers and sisters to keep him off the streets.
Today, Urbina is a mentor to students who go through the San Francisco Unified School District and need guidance.
He said he was fortunate enough to have three uncles, two older brothers, one older sister, and a Rec and Park director who kept him on the right path.
“I owe it to these great people to go on and do something great with my life as well,” he said.
Urbina, an Everett Middle School student adviser, shared his story Monday as District Attorney George Gascón announced a new initiative with the SFUSD.
The program, which brings assistant district attorneys to meet with groups of students, expands upon the district’s Mentoring for Success program in which about 600 working professionals mentor some 740 students. Another 1,000 students are on a waiting list, according to Kevin Truitt, assistant superintendent for the school district.
Gascón said mentoring has an incredible impact on young people.
“We know that kids who have a mentor, their attendance goes up and the GPA goes up significantly,” he said. “It really works and it doesn’t take a great deal of effort.”
Brady Cloy, 14, is one of the students who asked for help. He said in the seventh grade, after things started happening with his family, he started noticing he couldn’t control his anger.
“I started going off on teachers, friends and everybody,” he said. “But the mentor program helped me a lot. I learned how to control my anger.”
Urbina, who is the teen’s mentor, said his goal is to see all the kids reach their dreams.
“My goal was always to see every one of them graduate,” he said. “Brady is doing well academically, but I want to see him graduate and have his second or third plan happen. He wants to play for the NBA. Everyone knows it’s very difficult, so hopefully he’s thinking of a backup plan just in case. I’m very proud of him.”