"One of the program's goals is to provide inspiration and guidance to high school students and their parents when the families and the communities may not provide many professional role models," said Charles Calleros, a professor at the College of Law who organized the mentoring effort.
"These are bright, hardworking students who nonetheless might not appreciate the academic and professional opportunities available to them or might become discouraged before realizing their goals.
Their student and attorney mentors provide examples of success to inspire them to stay on the academic track."
The four-tier mentoring program was created by the Hispanic National Bar Association
, which launched it last September in several cities.
Calleros is a member of the Association's national committee for the mentoring program, and he was determined to bring the HNBA program to Phoenix.
For several months, Professor Calleros laid the foundation of the Phoenix program by working through student and professional organizations of which he is a member and which are affiliated with HNBA: the Chicano/Latino Law Student Association and Los Abogados.
then broadened the program to other students, attorneys, and organizations, ensuring ethnically diverse role models for all of the high school participants . Most of the high school students are from the law magnet program at South Mountain High School
said the program works for participants at each step of the ladder to the legal profession: high school students are exposed to information about college; pre-law students learn about the law school admission process and the importance of taking challenging classes, and law students get an inside view of the practice of law with their attorney mentors.
It's also a positive experience for law students to see how far they've come.
"Law school is a very competitive environment, and positive feedback doesn't come in generous quanitities," Calleros
"Some very capable law students feel a little shell-shocked, but they are reminded of how talented and accomplished they are when they act as mentors and help younger students attempt to follow in the law students' footsteps."
On February 3, participants mingled over a pizza dinner at the College of Law, sponsored by the Hispanic National Bar Foundation
and two law firms.
After dinner, they met for about 30 minutes for some general information, then spent time in their groups getting to know each other.
Many of the high school students were accompanied by their parents.
"It's important for high school students and their parents to see people like them who are lawyers and law students," Calleros
The college student later wrote to Professor Calleros
in an e-mail that "this program is really fun and a once-in-a-lifetime experience.