Growing up in an impoverished neighborhood in Houston, TX, Frankie Lucio did not think much about his future beyond high school and, as a result, was not that interested in his classes. “I didn’t really have that inner motivation,” Frankie said.
After gaining acceptance to the High School for Law and Justice, a magnet school in the city, and signing up for an OJJDP youth mentoring program, Frankie began to find his motivation.
Big Brothers Big Sisters Lone Star matched Frankie with Christina Garza, a public affairs specialist in the FBI’s Houston field office, through its Beyond School Walls initiative.
Under the initiative, Frankie and other students visited the FBI field office once a month to gain a better understanding of the FBI’s work and meet with their mentors. The visits began with an hour-long case study or another FBI-related educational activity followed by lunch, which provided an opportunity for Frankie and Christina to talk informally. The two also kept in touch between their visits. “She got me to think about what I wanted to do [in the future],” Frankie said of his “Big Sister,” Christina. “She put me on that path for the first time in my life.”
Along with helping Frankie set goals for the future, Christina reinforced that it was important for him to do his best academically. After learning that Frankie was failing one of his classes, she made it clear that he needed to do better in school. That talk made a big impression on Frankie. “I thought to myself, ‘Wow, no one ever got upset at me before.’ There aren’t a lot of people who are willing to do that for other people. A lot of kids don’t have that.”
“Having a [mentor] makes a big difference. It makes you feel you have someone you can count on; someone you can share things with … someone who understands you.”
— Frankie Lucio
Frankie graduated from high school in June 2020 and is pursuing an associate’s degree at San Jacinto College. He hopes to become an FBI agent and to own a bail bonds business one day. He is a strong advocate for youth mentoring programs, especially for older teens from underprivileged neighborhoods.
“High school is such a difficult time—you’re growing up, learning new things about yourself, and you don’t have anyone to talk to,” he said. Having mentors would make a big difference in encouraging kids to take school seriously and stay out of trouble, said Frankie, who still keeps in touch with Christina.