Abriendo Puertas: Opening Doors for Inner-City Youth

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Even though his class just graduated eighth grade about a month ago, the lasting impact of Martin Luther King Junior's words hasn't gone over Alberto Valle's head.

"Saying everybody's equal, so he's inspiring me to be all i can be."

Alberto and his classmates from Bruce Gualdalupe Middle School left their predominantly-Latino neighborhood and hit the books at UW-Eau Claire.

"It's pretty much everything I expected-good school, nice campus."

Good grades and good behavior got them here, and they'll leave knowing more about how to identify plants and animals, as well as how to become fiscally responsible someday.

"I had teary-eyed parents saying good-bye to their kids because they had never left home for more than a day," said Program Coordinator Stephanie Zighelboim.

Every student involved is a step closer to breaking new ground with a college in the years ahead.

"I'll be the only one out of my family-the first one to graduate," said student Desiree Lopez.

"A lot of parents say 'I can't afford to send you, there's know way you can do this,'" Zighelboim said.

"You know what? There are ways."

Alberto is thinking about going into Engineering once he's old enough to go to college, and he's willing to put forth extra effort in high school so he has a chance to meet that goal.

"I just love educating myself. Learning new things all the time...That's just me," Valle said.

Especially in a place that shouldn't seem as strange or distant to him by week's end.