There are myriad reasons why a student may decide to drop out of high school. Many students simply find it too difficult to succeed in a traditional high school environment. This may stem from issues involving bullying, lack of support from teachers and peers, or a one-size-fits-all structure. For Claire, all of these factors led to her leaving her traditional public high school.
Claire had always done well in her classes, but she “didn’t ever feel challenged enough” academically. She began to feel depressed and increasingly unnoticed and unsupported by her teachers and classmates. Eventually, she began to lose confidence in herself and started to “go towards a downward spiral” in her academic life. By her junior year, Claire had little motivation remaining. During this time, a family member suggested that Claire join the Gateway to College program at Portland Community College. When she learned that the program would provide her with the opportunity to earn both high school and college credits, she was enthusiastic.
Upon beginning the program, Claire immediately excelled. “I loved being in a college environment. It was so much more of a mature environment. You could tell that everyone wanted to be there and that they were constantly challenging themselves to do better.” She quickly found a “family” through the program, a new network of teachers and peers who provided her with the encouragement and support that she lacked but desperately needed in high school.
Before Gateway, Claire recalls being very shy and timid. She mentions lacking confidence in herself. “I wouldn’t open up to people as much or help others. I didn’t have the confidence to make friends or do any extracurricular activities. Before Gateway, I wouldn’t have had the confidence to achieve the big goals in my life that I set for myself.”
Claire’s confidence increased to the point where she elected to pursue an Associate of Applied Science in the Aviation Maintenance Technology program at Portland Community College. Claire thrived in the program, graduating in 2014. She currently works as an Aircraft Mechanic for Horizon Air at Portland International Airport. Claire’s journey is an important reminder that there are multiple pathways to success for young people, and a number of industries that offer promising careers. Gateway to College National Network is committed to helping young people find a pathway – whether through future education or a successful career – that will allow them to thrive.