I was kicked out of three high schools in three years. Once I got clean and sober, off the streets, and committed to school—it appeared to be too late. I felt hopeless and depressed. Despite my best efforts to commit to living a better life and completing my education, I was still failing. I felt like maybe school wasn’t for me, and if so, I would never be able to achieve my dreams for the future. In my mind, if I couldn’t have a future career that I was passionate about, I wouldn’t ever be happy.
I discovered Gateway to College through a high school referral. At Gateway, I had the support of a community of adults and fellow students who believed in my aspirations as much as I did and who supported me, even when I made mistakes. They treated me like an adult with my own choices, and they provided me with bus tickets and financial assistance to help remove some of the barriers to success. Most importantly, I was surrounded by an educational culture and opportunities to get involved in productive and fun social activities to replace the party environment I was used to.
Since I graduated the program in 2004, I have completed two associate degrees, a bachelor’s degree, and a master’s degree. I am currently working as a grant writer, editor, and communications coordinator for multiple nonprofit organizations in Portland, and I am starting a Native American jewelry business. My husband and I are proud homeowners and are expecting our first baby this July. You could say that all of my dreams have come true, and then some.
I hope that my story inspires you to become a dream-maker for youth at risk of dropping out of high school and not being able to achieve their fullest potential. It is through the support of community members like you, many of whom have stories like mine, that programs like Gateway to College exist. Your contribution will help us to serve more youth who need the intensive support that this program provides.
Please join me in the effort to make dreams come true.