Pre-Collegiate Mentor Bill Wallace
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Bill Wallace does it all. He is an avid hiker who has climbed all of the 54 fourteeners in Colorado, he loves to ski, enjoys golfing, and still manages to participate as a mentor for the Pre-Collegiate Program.
Pre-Collegiate is a program to help students who are serious about going to college, but whose parents didn’t complete/attend college.
Wallace didn’t have a mentor when he was in high school other than his dad. When Wallace was 12 years old, his dad had him writing to colleges for information. “My dad saw all of his life, and what a difference it would have made if he had had a college education. He had to overcome tremendous odds to be successful,” Wallace said.
Attending Middlebury College, a liberal arts college in Vermont, Wallace majored in geology. After graduating, he went to Stanford in California to receive his masters. Then Wallace joined the Army Corps of Engineers for two years, serving as a Lieutenant.
Wallace heard about Pre-Collegiate at a presentation that Pre-Collegiate Director Adriana Ayala-Hire gave to the Aspen Community Foundation. Since he was interested in working with kids ,and had a couple of his own, Wallace signed up for the job.
“I see my job as trying to take my lifetime of experience, not only bringing up kids that went to college, but working in the business world, and trying to take those experiences to provide them back. I’m like a cheerleader for a bunch of kids that are thinking about college, but don’t entirely know how to go about it,” Wallace said.
Wallace believes attending college is incredibly important. “College is the key door-opener to the rest of your life,” He said. Stressing the importance, Wallace discusses with his kids beneficial and non-beneficial choices kids can make that could help or keep them from attending college. “Bill gives us encouragement, resources, and information so we can go on to better places,” Wallace’s student, GSHS sophomore Clara Miller said.
For Wallace, it will be important if he can make a difference in any of his kids’ lives to the extent he can see them reach a little higher or strive for a better college. “I would like every one of my students to aspire higher than community college and think, ‘What is the best place I can get into?'” Wallace said.
Wallace has his students set short-term, long-term, academic, and personal goals. “I want them to dream to the very best place they can and not set their own goals too low,” Wallace said. “I’m a real harper that the goals are ‘smart’.” Wallace’s ‘smart’ stands for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time bounding.
Being honest and realistic while trying to set the bar higher for the students is something that Wallace tries to do, and this is advice he would give to other mentors. “I think it’s extremely important for the mentors to try and get the kids to reach further than they think they can reach,” Wallace said.
According to Wallace, the most satisfying part about working with his kids is when one of them asks an insightful question or when he feels that somebody understands or sees something from a different viewpoint than they did before.
He meets once in a while with five other mentors with whom he shares successes, failures, guest speakers, ideas that worked well, and ideas that didn’t. “I would like to see a website where any mentor that has had a program that they thought was particularly successful would put information online so we could all use it,” Wallace said.
Not only is Wallace a Pre-Collegiate mentor, but also an Executive Service Core member, and an Aspen Community Foundation member. He has lived in the valley for almost 15 years, and has dedicated a huge part of himself to help make the community better. Truly, Wallace does it all.
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