DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Mentoring students is not part of a school resource officer's job description, but one DISD police officer is helping two H. Grady Spruce High School seniors go to college.
At Spruce High School, graduation is a top priority and in the last couple of years graduations rates have increased by about 20 percent a year.
School resource officer Paul Cuara is taking it one step further, helping students set their college path.
"They're not just kids that are here, they're my kids," Cuara said. "This is my home. This is my second home. I'm here to 8 to 9 hours a day, five days a week and I spend more time with these kids here than I do my own family. My family is very supportive of it. School is not pushed as much as it should be and with us officers being here we're kind of bridging the gap, saying school is important, college is important."
Seniors Evelyn Cordova and Fatima Ortiz will be the first in their families to go to college.
"My parents, they're really proud!" Cordova said. "I'm going to go to El Centro to get my basics, my two years, then transfer to TWU."
"I'm excited," Ortiz said. "I'm just ready to take this next big step! I'm planning to go to Eastfield College to do my basics and then transfer to Texas Women's University."
The two are both planning to major in business and said they couldn't have done it without the help of officer Cuara. They met freshman year and said they started noticing he pushed students to make college a top priority.
"He tries to persuade us, push us, tell us that we can and we've always told him what we wanted to do as in career wise," Cordova said.
"They're awesome girls and they have a lot of potential," Cuara said. "We were able to get the girls two laptops with a memory card and everything and it was great so they're set up for college!"
Cuara helped the girls make Dallas County's "Promise Pledge," a commitment to attend a two-year junior college.
"It pays for those two years so when the girls are done they will have an associates degree," Cuara said. "They then get to transfer into a university of their choice as a junior."
CBS 11 asked Cuara what motivates him to help so many students and he said he's simply paying it forward.
"When I was younger somebody reached out to me and gave to me and showed me school is important so I feel that I need to give back, that I should give back, he said. "That's the right thing to do. God has blessed me with a huge amount of blessings and in return have to share that."
Cuara said one of the most rewarding things about his job is keeping in touch with the students after they graduate. He's excited to see what's in store for the girls.
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