Pedro Mentors the Fatherless in Juvenile Prisons in Florida

“So … Bakke Graduate University (BGU) has three colleges (business, urban studies and Christian theology) requiring students from 60+ nations to study in all three before they can graduate. Why? Those three subjects don’t really fit well together. I thought graduate degrees were for people who want to be ivory tower professors. What kind of three-headed impractical monsters do you create?”

What follows is the last of three stories of three June 2024 graduates and you can see whether BGU’s 20+year mission is insanity or genius. As we approach our fiscal year end on June 30, if these stories make sense to you, we’d appreciate you praying about joining the adventure by donating at

Dr. Brad Smith


Meet Dr. Pedro Rodriguez:

I am the founder and director of Urban Youth Justice. We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that serves juvenile justice youth in the state of Florida. We go inside juvenile facilities where we do mentorship, discipleship, and we train them to become our next leaders. My dissertation was written on the juvenile justice system and the impact fatherlessness has on the youth that I serve. Eighty percent of the youth I serve are without a father in the home. It leads them to make poor decisions with lifelong implications for themselves and others. I meet up with them in juvenile detention centers and residential programs.

These youth are in need of mentors. Through my research, and through my own personal experience, I've realized that faith-based mentors are the game changers. As mentors, we make a huge impact on a young man's life and can influence them and change the trajectory of the outcome of their future.

BGU has helped me understand what it means to be a transformational leader. I’ve not only experienced transformation in my own life in the last several years that I've attended BGU, but I’ve also helped transform those around me by playing a role in their transformation. This has also happened within my city, within my community, and within my church. It's been huge in just helping me see life through a biblical lens. It has given me a lot of drive to help people understand the power that they have that God has given them to help transform their cities, their communities, their homes, their families, by becoming disciple makers and mentors in their community. I show them how to make a change by being the voice in the wilderness and being a light in darkness.

Having a doctorate degree significantly opens doors in the highly politicized government world of juvenile justice where you work. You are one of the most strategic, smart, and forward-thinking persons that we’ve met. You say you are not a writer and yet you now have a doctorate. How did you achieve this huge milestone in your life?

The BGU community mentored me. I've had some struggles. I've had some death in the family. BGU staff and faculty helped me get through this process and finish strong even though at times I felt like I wanted to give up. I was given the opportunity to not only write my dissertation, but I was able to put together a 60-minute documentary that documents all the work that I've done with the youth.

We are grateful for how Pedro has been a blessing to us all and will be used of God in even more powerful ways in the future. Please consider a year-end gift to BGU at www.bgu/giving and help BGU continue to serve others such as Pedro doing powerful, practical, transformational work.