"There was a point in my life where everything came crashing down," she said.
At 19, Allison, with attention deficit disorder and test anxiety, had a breakdown.
But like all Gateway Scholars she didn’t give up. Today, Allison has a job, her own place, and is back on track, attending the Gateway to College program at Owens Community College in Ohio.
Allison says she thinks she's found a second chance in an educational setting geared toward her. "Here," she said, "they actually care."
Owens received a $325,000 start-up grant for the program, which will serve up to 150 students during the next three years. Students attend at no charge at Owens' Learning Center at The Source in downtown Toledo. They receive books, lunch, and transportation. During the first term, they take reading, writing, math, and college skills courses in small groups.
But more than the programming, the initiative gives students with fragile educational drives the support more traditional paths might not offer.
There's the 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."
All the students on Monday said they wanted to succeed, but Gateway lead resource officer James Jackson, Sr., challenged them on their drive, a legitimate question because most had given up on school at some point. They'll need to want to graduate more than anything they've ever wanted, even with the staff's help.
"We want it for you guys," Mr. Jackson said, "but we can't give it to you."
Gateway students are courageous and the decision they make to return to school is not one they take lightly. Allison’s story is one of thousands.
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