Gateway Grads: Allison and Trey – Owens Community College

Thursday, May 05, 2016
Early in her senior year, Allison—a teenager with attention deficit disorder and test anxiety—found herself with a full schedule and got overwhelmed. She dropped out of high school. She had other forays into education, such as a stint at a dropout recovery school with a mostly online curriculum, but she decided six hours a day in front of a computer wasn't for her.

Her prospects weren't bright.

"There was a point in my life where everything came crashing down," she said.

Allison, at 19, had a breakdown. This is the point where many young people give up.

But these days, she has a job and her own place and is back on track at school, thanks to the Gateway to College program at Owens Community College.
Allison said she thinks she's found a second chance in a school setting geared toward her. "Here," she said, "they actually care."

Gateway provides formal help, with mentors, advisors, and coaches. If you forget a pen, the Learning Center's director, Willie Williams, told students, staff will get you one. If you need bus tokens, they've got them.

"Ask for it," he said, "and we will find ways to support you."

Gateway lead resource officer James Jackson, Sr., challenges them on their drive—a legitimate question because most had given up on school at some point. They need to want to graduate.

"We want it for you guys," Mr. Jackson said, "but we can't give it to you."

Trey McBrayer, 17, found himself stuck in neutral at Start High School. Laziness, he admitted, led to little school work. He stopped gaining credits and eventually left for Phoenix Academy.

"School just didn't matter to me then," he said.

But when young McBrayer heard about the Gateway initiative, something clicked. He saw a second chance. Realizing how hard it would be to find a good job without a high school diploma, let alone a college degree, he decided to take the opportunity.

"At some time, you gotta grow up," he said.

Learn more about the Gateway to College at Owens Community College by listening to this audio story from PRX.

This spring, celebrate student success with a gift to the Gateway to Graduation campaign! Help more off-track and out-of-school youth reach their graduation stage. Click here.

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