Young probationers introduced to college life at Pima Community - Tucson News Now

Young probationers introduced to college life at Pima Community

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

High Schoolers who once had their day in court had a chance at their day in college on Thursday.

Pima Community College invited dozens of high school-age probationers and foster kids to tour its downtown campus for "College Youth Career Day."

The Pima County Juvenile Court has organized the field trip since 2006 for teens to learn about college classes, transportation options and financial aid.

The goal is to expose high-risk youth to the possibilities of higher education.

"In recent evaluations that we've conducted after these events, we have found that 50 percent of the kids that come have never ever been on a college campus. To provide this opportunity to kids to see that it is a reality and a possibility for them is really exciting," said Lynn Parente, a Pima County Juvenile probation officer.

The program has changed at least one young man's life. 17-year-old Joshua Levy, an Orlando native and a resident of Tucson's east side, just completed his probation on Thursday, the same day he decided to check out the career event and enroll for courses at Pima Community College.

Levy was placed under probation at the age of 15 and served two months in jail for multiple charges. The experience, he said, was life-changing.

"It started off hard. I came from nothing, not listening to anybody doing what I want to do, and now going from strict to having people come into my room, having people ask me questions, so it was a hard transition," Levy said.

But he made a successful transition through the help of his probation officer and mentors.

"Everything's an option. Getting high is an option. Messing with people is an option. Stealing cars is an option. Going to college and bettering your future is an option and a better option than doing all the other things," Levy said.

Levy said he enrolled in courses this spring and plans to study criminal justice at Pima Community College.

Copyright 2014 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.

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