“I don’t know what I’d be like without BUILD…” Estrella reflects. “Definitely not as successful.” In Spanish, Estrella is the word for ‘star.’ It fits. As a sophomore, she’s earning a 3.9 GPA in honors courses at Roberto Clemente High School. Estrella’s been with BUILD for most of her 16 years – she started as a first grader. She’s taken advantage of every opportunity we offer – from Arts Boot Camp to the Youth Leadership Council. She’s learned the value of persistence. “It’s not one thing. Every day has a moment that changes my life,” Estrella explains. To her, the staff are like family, especially Coco, whom she’s known for years. “It’s like we’ve grown up together.”
At BUILD, she’s already preparing for college, and is applying for summer programs at DePaul, the Art Institute, and the University of Illinois at Chicago. UIC is the top choice. The program has a health focus, and she wants to go into medicine. It wasn’t always easy. A few years ago, her grades plummeted as struggles with bullies and the pressure to fit in distracted her from learning. “I just lost focus,” she remembers. With hard work, Estrella caught up academically and learned positive ways to handle peer pressure.
Estrella earned her success, but shares the credit with BUILD. “Coco always helped me – no matter what.” Every BUILD adult is supportive. “It’s not just a job. They care.” We’re proud of Estrella, and look forward to watching her shine in high school, college, and into her career.