Gateway Grads: Alexander's Story

Thursday, October 13, 2016
When Alexander entered high school at Portland’s DeLasalle North High School, he recalled that high school was the next step on his educational journey, and he was excited to play sports. Like many teenagers, however, life threw a curveball. His parents had divorced just a few months prior, and the transition to high school proved difficult. Alexander didn’t have a strong sense of self-worth, and found himself leaving school after only a year. He tried a computer-based program for a short time, before enrolling into Portland’s LEAP Academy and struggling through for nearly two years.
“I didn’t have many positive role models or close relationships with faculty, and I was hanging around a group of friends who weren’t a positive influence,” Alexander said, in describing his time at LEAP. Ultimately, he was kicked out of the school for fighting. A few months later, Alexander was in front of his house playing basketball. A neighbor approached and asked why he wasn’t in school. It turned out the neighbor was a Gateway to College graduate from the Portland Community College (PCC) program. He encouraged Alexander to apply to Gateway to College, which he eventually did. “At a time that many of my friends were beginning college, it really struck me that it would be a pathway into college,” says Alexander.
In Gateway to College, Alexander found the peers he had always been seeking. The Gateway to College faculty and staff served as strong mentors, and access to college-level classes helped Alexander better envision his future. “The interactions made me feel I was truly cared about,” Alexander described. “When you feel love and support outside of the family, it can have an even greater impact on your life.”
Alexander graduated from Gateway to College, and continued to pursue his associate degree at Portland Community College. He served as a leader in the Black Student Union, and found another mentor through the African-American Men’s Scholar Project in Dr. General Johnson. Alexander graduated from PCC last spring, and now attends Portland State University. Alexander is determined to act as a mentor to other motivated young people and serve as a role model for graduating high school and working toward postsecondary success. 
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