ONLY ON ABC-7: Border Patrol's R.E.A.L. Mission

At-risk students learn impact of good, bad decisions

ONLY ON ABC-7: R.E.A.L. Mission

EL PASO, Texas - A dozen high school students may have a different outlook on life after they spent the last four weeks working closely with the Border Patrol. They realized there is a connection between their actions now and their plans for the future.

"We started doing the discipline things and all the PT, the training we had to do. And that made me think, 'Oh, well, this is what I get for messing up,'" Juan Guevara told ABC-7.

Guevara is one of several at-risk teens graduating from the month-long R.E.A.L. Mission, a program organized and executed by the Border Patrol.

The graduation ceremony was held Thursday morning at the Border Patrol's Hondo Pass Drive location.

Their families watched as they wrapped up their participation with a ceremony filled with speeches, words of encouragement and a certificate.

The program was introduced to the El Paso Sector in 2012. It takes at-risk kids and teaches the repercussions of bad decisions through exposure to law enforcement. They were even treated to a visit from an inmate at the Rogelio Sanchez State Jail.

The students also did community service. They spent one morning cleaning up Fort Bliss National Cemetery.

Guevara was caught ditching classes at Andress High School. Days after getting into the program -- he said things just clicked.

"They {the agents} never let me down in anything. They were always there. They're always focused. They give us discipline. They respect us," said Guevara.

"It feels great after they've graduated -- whatever they've gone through, how they changed throughout the whole program once they started," said Border Patrol agent Carlos Lara. "Seeing them since day one in court to the day of their graduation -- you feel very proud of them and also hope you changed their way of life."

The R.E.A.L. Mission has helped more than 300 students since 2012.

Guevara told ABC-7 he'd like to join the Border Patrol Explorers -- and hopefully become an agent.

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