Gallacher helping 12 Latino students prepare for college |

Gallacher helping 12 Latino students prepare for college

Abril Loya
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Walter Gallacher

Few people take the time to talk to teenagers these days, even fewer on a regular basis. Walter Gallacher, however, is an exception with his work involving mentoring youth in the Pre-Collegiate Program.

Walter Gallacher is the Pre-Collegiate Mentor assigned to aid the current ninth-graders at Roaring Fork High School in Carbondale. His job as a mentor primarily consists of guiding his group of 12 students through the obstacles that school and the economy present them on their way to college.

Gallacher has been with this particular group from the time that they were seventh-graders in middle school. “They teach me as much as I teach them. It’s a great exchange,” Gallacher said.

Born and raised in this valley, Gallacher attended Bolitho Elementary, now known as Glenwood Springs Elementary School, and Glenwood Springs High School (GSHS). He graduated from GSHS in 1965, and was a first-generation college student, which makes his work with Pre-Collegiate even more meaningful for him.

“It’s exciting to be the first one in your family to go to college, which is why this is such a powerful program and a powerful idea,” Gallacher said.

Gallacher first became involved in the program three years ago through his association with the program’s director, Adriana Ayala-Hire. At the time, Gallacher worked at Colorado Mountain College as the director of marketing. He ended up helping establish the Pre-Collegiate Program on the Western Slope.

Although Gallacher has taken 12 Pre-Collegiate students, all Latino, under his wing, he still finds time to produce “Immigrant Stories” for the KDNK radio station. Gallacher interviews individuals from the valley and incorporates their narratives into “Immigrant Stories,” which is a form of oral history. “The idea is to remind people that we’re all immigrants. … I didn’t like the way people were labeling all Latinos as ‘illegal,'” Gallacher said.

“Immigrant Stories” has been in existence for the past two years and is featured once a week in the Glenwood Springs Post Independent. In addition to producing “Immigrant Stories”, Gallacher is also a photographer.

Gallacher has made a great impact on the students he mentors and meets with once a week. “[Gallacher] keeps us really motivated and looking forward to our future and makes us open up our minds even as freshmen,” Roaring Fork High School freshman and Pre-Collegiate student Vanessa Porras said.

Going to college is essential for any student, especially in these times of economic crisis. Thanks to Gallacher and the Pre-Collegiate Program, more students in the valley have the opportunity to further their education. For 12 students at Roaring Fork High School, Gallacher is there to aid them through the obstacles ahead, and will continue to do so for future Pre-Collegiate students.

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