[Central Programs] Staying on Track: JerMonika's story

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

CCC-OH-JerMonika-Graduation-PortraitJerMonika started Gateway to College having completed only her ninth grade year in high school. Two years later she graduated with her high school diploma, 34 hours of college credit, and a college GPA of 3.26.

JerMonika's journey in Gateway wasn't easy, but she faced challenges with courage and conviction.

"There were times that I didn't have a stable place to lay my head, but I didn't want to use that as an excuse. My resource specialist and the other Gateway staff have always been quick to help me in emergencies. They made sure I stayed on track," JerMonika said.

She's always been resolute in her reasons for wanting her high school diploma—she wanted to prove to everyone that she could do it and she wanted to feel proud when she finally received her diploma. She also knew she wanted more for her future, and that college was key to getting where she wanted to go in life. Gateway was the perfect fit for her needs, and her dreams.

JerMonika will complete her associate's degree at Tri-C and then transfer to earn a bachelor's degree in sociology/social work. She hopes to one day run a group home for displaced children.

Graduations are truly something to celebrate. A contribution to Gateway to College National Network helps more pathways open for students like JerMonika. It’s so easy! Give now

[Central Programs] Not Alone: Charlie's Story

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

MCC_NE-Charlie-Interview-Still-BWCharlie was a typical high school student in her sophomore year and on track to graduate. Then something happened.

“I got sick—my high school couldn’t help me through it. I had to drop out.

“I learned of Gateway through a friend who had been in the program—her mother works at Metro Community College. At first I didn’t think Gateway was for me—I assumed it was a GED program. Then I was told that no, you earn your full high school diploma. It’s a scholarship program—I didn’t have to pay for anything! My schedule was able to be flexible to accommodate my needs and I was soon taking college classes with college students.

“Gateway staff, faculty, and students were so kind and helpful—many of them knew a lot about my condition and helped me to get better. When I arrived, they helped me find a hypo-thyroid support group to help with my condition. My Resource Specialist helped me feel not so alone. Gateway will help you with bigger life problems too—like if you don’t have a place to live, they’ll help you. They’re just the best support team I’ve ever seen.”

Dropping out happens to young people—stress, family issues, illness, or other life circumstances get in the way of education. After Charlie fell ill and had to leave school, she found Gateway and is now back on track. Watch her interview here.

Graduations are truly something to celebrate. A contribution to Gateway to College National Network helps more pathways open for students like Charlie. It’s so easy! Give now

[Central Programs] Her Gateway to College: Savannah's Story

Monday, June 08, 2015

GtC-Balloon-SLC-2015Like many Gateway to College graduates, Savannah had to overcome immense personal challenges on her road to graduation.

Growing up in Omaha, Nebraska, Savannah’s parents had serious substance abuse issues—they didn’t protect Savannah and her younger siblings from their lifestyle. She recalls her house being disgusting, never having enough food, the water being turned off, and strange people coming and going. “My parents and uncles were all drug addicts,” said Savannah. “The opiates destroyed their brains. My father couldn’t even hold a conversation.” Savannah quickly became the primary caregiver for her younger siblings, and for her parents.

In high school, Savannah had a hard time making friends. She was teased and bullied because of her family’s situation. She skipped classes and though she made it to her senior year, she didn’t have enough credits to graduate. Her GPA was too low and she was lacking in the necessary credits to be accepted in other programs.

Facing limited options, Savannah then realized she had to make a choice. “Something clicked. I didn’t want to be like my parents.”

In the winter of 2013, she found her way to Gateway to College at Metropolitan Community College in Omaha.

“Gateway is different because I could be more mature and independent. Being in the college setting allows you to meet different people. They were focused on my education, not what I was doing (outside the classroom),” said Savannah. In Gateway mentor Ruth Schindler, Savannah found the caring personal supports she previously lacked. “Ms. Ruth and I are very close. I don’t have many people in my life for that. She is someone who listens and helps with resources.”

In spring 2015, Savannah earned her full high school diploma through Gateway to College and will graduate in the fall with her Associate of Arts degree in Respiratory Care. Her degree will enable her to support her siblings before she pursues further education, likely in health care administration.

She continues to take stock in the challenging lessons she’s had to learn at such a young age. “We have a choice,” she says. “We can either become a product of our environment, or we can learn and grow from it.”

We honor Savannah’s difficult journey to graduation and celebrate her grit and tenacity in succeeding.

Graduations are truly something to celebrate. A contribution to Gateway to College National Network helps more pathways open for students like Savannah. It’s so easy! Give now

[West Programs] Keeping Motivated: Anthony's Story

Friday, June 05, 2015

RCC-Grads-against-Red-Curtain-with-Diplomas-2007Anthony was taken out of parental custody at age nine and placed in a foster home, only to be kicked out of the home at age 15. During the next two years, he stayed anywhere he could, spending a lot of time alone on the street. He did not attend school very often and fell far behind his peers.

In the spring of 2010, Anthony enrolled in Gateway to College at Riverside City College. He was 17 years old and had just over half of the number of high school credits he needed to graduate. Since then, Anthony has earned over 100 high school credits and 25 college units while more than doubling his GPA. “Having this much individual attention and information about resources as well as having the opportunity to earn dual credit has helped keep me motivated,” says Anthony. He has balanced school success with diverse working experiences, including work at RCC as a math tutor and in the CTE Department. Anthony was also a guest speaker for the Youth Education and Motivation Program at a local middle school. His final project for Guidance 47 was featured on the Road Trip Nation website.

Anthony plans to continue his studies at RCC and then transfer to a four-year institution to earn his bachelor’s degree. “Gateway to College has completely changed my perspective. I now understand how school and my future connect, and I’m optimistic about what lies ahead.”

Graduations are truly something to celebrate. A contribution to Gateway to College National Network helps more pathways open for students like Anthony. It’s so easy! Give now

[West Programs] Gateway Turned My Life Around: Alyssa's Story

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

CCSF-Girl-Writing-at-DeskI highly recommend the Gateway to College program for all students who are lacking credits for their high school diploma. The program is so beneficial – it helps you get your diploma and earn college credits at the same time. This program has turned my life around. I never thought it was possible to actually like going to school. One of the reasons I love this program is because I actually feel like someone cares about me and my education.

At Gateway to College, I have a close relationship with my teachers. It also made me open up; by this I mean I am not afraid to ask for help when I need it.

The teachers have office hours so that when you need help they are there for you. Gateway to College has helped me with my attendance as well. I used to never go to school and was a truant, but now I feel like I have the help I need from my teachers and counselor, which makes me a happy student who enjoys being at school every day.

On top of getting your diploma, you earn college credits at the same time. It’s a great opportunity, and I really recommend it to students who have struggled in the past. If you’re worried about transportation, Gateway will help you. Gateway is a fun, comfortable environment to be in. You go on fun field trips and it’s all paid for by the program. Don’t miss out on this opportunity.

Alyssa attended the Santa Rosa Junior College's Gateway to College program in Santa Rosa, CA.

[West Programs] It’s Good to See You Here: Leah's Story

Monday, June 01, 2015

PCC-Leah-Grad-SpeechTan yahee ya hey – in the Lakota language means, “It’s good to see you here.”

Leah was 14 when she ended up on the streets, sleeping beside a friend beneath the marquee of an abandoned movie theater. Thrown out of her house and a future of using drugs, drinking, and moving from place to place—uncertain and scared, Leah decided she needed help. Education was her way home.

Gateway to College gave Leah the tools and resources she needed to take control. After earning her second associates degree, she was voted president of her class, graduation speaker. Leah soon transferred to a four year university and earned her Bachelors.

Leah’s advice for students like her?

“Don’t be hard on yourself. This is really, really hard—to change. To ignore all the behaviors and habits you’ve learned. Remember that everybody falls. Everybody’s who has struggled; you will fall too. But the people who will make it are those who can pick themselves up. You have to decide. Do you want this for yourself?

“Sometimes you have to bear up. You have to decide how you want your life to be—what is and isn’t good for you. But it’s always your choice. What do you want in your life? No one can change things for you. But know that you have the strength, courage, and motivation. You just have to tap into that. Hold onto what you know is best for yourself. Keep going.”

Today, Leah is married and gives back every day as a development associate for an environmental nonprofit in Portland, Oregon.

Gateway to College Social Media Directory

Thursday, May 28, 2015
Connect with us, and join the discussion! Here you will find links to all Gateway to College programs' social media accounts. If you represent a program and would like to add to this list, please email Signe at stronson@gatewaytocollege.org. 


Highline College Facebook Twitter Instagram
Lake Washington Technical College Facebook Twitter Instagram
Portland Community College Facebook Twitter Instagram
Spokane Falls Community College Facebook Twitter Instagram
Gateway to College National Network Facebook Twitter Instagram


City College of San Francisco Facebook Twitter Instagram
Contra Costa College Facebook Twitter Instagram
Laney College Facebook Twitter Instagram
Los Angeles City College Facebook Twitter Instagram
Riverside City College Facebook Twitter Instagram
Santa Rosa Junior College Facebook Twitter Instagram
Shasta College Facebook Twitter Instagram


Christel House Dropout Recovery Center & Facebook Twitter Instagram
Cuyahoga Community College Facebook Twitter Instagram
Des Moines Area Community College Facebook Twitter Instagram
Donnelly College Facebook Twitter Instagram
Front Range Community College Facebook Twitter Instagram
Gateway Community and Technical College Facebook Twitter Instagram
Hennepin Technical College Facebook Twitter Instagram
Madison Area Technical College Facebook Twitter Instagram
Metropolitan Community College Facebook Twitter Instagram
Mott Community College Facebook Twitter Instagram
Owens Community College Facebook Twitter Instagram
Pueblo Community College Facebook Twitter Instagram
Saint Paul College Facebook Twitter Instagram
St. Louis Community College Facebook Twitter Instagram


El Paso Community College Facebook Twitter Instagram
South Texas College Facebook Twitter Instagram


Durham Technical Community College Facebook Twitter Instagram
Georgia Perimeter College Facebook Twitter Instagram
Hinds Community College (Jackson) Facebook Twitter Instagram
Hinds Community College (Vicksburg) Facebook Twitter Instagram
Polk State College Facebook Twitter Instagram

Bristol Community College Facebook Twitter Instagram
Holyoke Community College Facebook Twitter Instagram
Massasoit Community College Facebook Twitter Instagram
Mount Wachusett Community College Facebook Twitter Instagram
Quinsigamond Community College Facebook Twitter Instagram
Springfield Technical Community College Facebook Twitter Instagram


Camden County College Facebook Twitter Instagram
Community College of Philadelphia Facebook Twitter Instagram
Essex County College Facebook Twitter Instagram
Montgomery County Community College Facebook Twitter Instagram

[NE Programs] A Real Second Chance: Jahath's Story

Thursday, May 28, 2015

MCC_MA-jahath-close-upI am a young man who is on an incredible journey of self-identity and experience. I grew up in an area with a lack of opportunities and a lot of crime. I work with Gateway to College, a national organization that provides education for "at risk" students. I enjoy writing, reading, photography and community.

I grew up in Brockton, MA in a biracial family. My community has a history of drugs and violence, some of which I witnessed growing up. I dropped out of high-school but came back for my education at Gateway to College, a great program that gives people like me a second chance. In 2009 I was nearly beaten to death in a gang related robbery that required me to have extensive surgeries to repair my face.  I volunteer in the community and take an active role in developing programs for youth to improve their odds, I am interested in opportunity nation because I feel a disconnection between the corporate world and the interests of the American People. We need community capitalism, business that is not solely based on profits but also the advancement of opportunities and rejuvenation of our society. Being involved in your campaign may give me skills, knowledge, and connections which can improve the work I at home.

My commitment would be to ask questions of those who have the most experience in opportunity advancement (perhaps by video interview/social media campaign) I would like to take back the strategies and tactics I learn at the conference and apply them to my own community. I also want to develop workshops that promote innovative ways to learn and grow for at risk students.

Your Contribution Changes Lives: Shawn's Story

Wednesday, May 27, 2015


Gateway to College programs have served 18,000 deserving teenagers and young adults in 23 states. Thousands more need a second chance to complete high school and post-secondary training or college. Your investment helps make that possible.

Students become disengaged from school for diverse reasons, including those related to poverty, neglect, abuse, loss of a parent, or illness. Whatever the cause of the disconnection, the consequences are dire. Students who drop out of high school earn markedly less during their lifetimes, utilize many more public services, have more illnesses and shorter lives, and are three times more likely to be incarcerated. In our 12 years of experience we have learned that given the right education environment and support, a young person can overcome these challenges.

Strategic investments in education can work. School districts, community colleges, and philanthropic foundations have come together to start Gateway to College programs in communities around the nation. Financial contributions from individuals – from you – help build the collaborations between public systems that make Gateway to College programs possible. For every dollar provided by individuals or philanthropy, nearly eleven dollars is generated from the public sphere to sustain this vital work.

It starts with that one dollar – an investment that unlocks so much potential. Shawn’s story illustrates the profound impact your investment makes.

Shawn was a bright energetic teenager with two parents who loved him, though they struggled with unemployment and lived in a tough neighborhood where few men of color succeeded. When he was 17, Shawn’s life changed irrevocably when he witnessed his best friend’s murder and saw another go to jail. He fell into a deep depression and high school became intolerable. He dropped out. Shawn’s prospects were bleak. Without a high school diploma, his chance for a good job was virtually nonexistent and even if he could envision himself in college, he would not have access to the federal student loans that would make it possible to attend. An uncle told him about the Gateway to College program at the nearby community college. Shawn felt as if a lifeline had been thrown to him.

At Gateway to College, he was in a college setting where he wasn’t seen as a lost cause, but rather as a promising young man with aspirations and a future. He had a counselor who knew his vulnerable condition and recent events, and who also knew how to chart the academic path that could lead him to a good job, or even a four-year degree, and more options. He was in school with other young people whose lives were challenging in different ways – there were teen parents, some were formerly homeless, some had suffered from abuse or neglect. They found in each other a community rooted in the will to succeed by changing the trajectory of their lives. After his first term, Shawn started taking classes with the general college population, an experience that was especially empowering. Because of Gateway, he was able to access these college classes for free, even before he finished his high school diploma. It wasn’t easy. There were setbacks that his counselor helped him overcome, such as when his parents lost their home and the family needed to live in a transitional shelter in another part of town. Twenty months later, Shawn finished high school and had accumulated 30 college credits that he would apply toward the completion of his associates degree and certificate in graphic design. He already had a part-time job using the skills he had learned in school. Shawn was elected to give his commencement speech Wearing a blue graduation cap and gown, and in front of his proud parents and younger siblings, Shawn tearfully shared his story and the gratitude he felt. “I don’t know where I would be without Gateway. It saved my life.”

Over one million students in the U.S. drop out of high school each year. Others struggle in school settings that cannot meet their needs and they are at great risk of dropping out. Your gift helps change that. Help us:

  • Train educators in innovative dual credit Gateway to College programs across the U.S.
  • Conduct research to better understand youth in transition and improve the education that supports them.
  • Build partnerships between colleges and school districts to open new Gateway to College sites to serve more students in need.

Each student’s personal story is humbling. Gateway to College educators help them realize that strong, positive networks can help them gain the skills needed to succeed in college and in their lives. An investment in Gateway to College National Network is an investment in a young person’s vision for the future.

Download the full 2014 Annual Report 

Graduations are truly something to celebrate. A contribution to Gateway to College National Network helps more pathways open for students like Shawn. It's so easy! Give now

[NE Programs] Trauma to Triumph: Tenisha’s Story

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Writing-CloseupTenisha came to interview for the Essex County College Gateway program in New Jersey with academic test scores off the chart. But she came from a rough background and couldn’t confidently express herself. Initially, Tenisha was not accepted to the Gateway program.

The next semester, Tenisha came back and tried again, showing strong determination. The Gateway team saw there was something about her—that given the right opportunity and setting, she could excel. They took a chance.

During her first semester in Gateway, she had a hard time. Latora, Tenisha’s Resource Specialist, laughs as she recalls Tenisha being a tough student. “She always got kicked out of class.” She told Tenisha, “If you want to fail, you will be held responsible.” It was then that she opened up.

“I need to do well, but it’s so hard,” she told Latora. The previous year, Tenisha was traumatized by the loss of a friend to gun violence. Gateway was there to support her though her process of healing, and Latora worked with her every step of the way.

Tenisha passed her classes the next semester and began to blossom. She learned better how to articulate herself and was promoted at work. At her Gateway to College graduation, Tenisha shared proudly, “I can’t believe I have done this!” But she worried she wouldn’t succeed in college. Latora pointed out, “You’re in college already, and you have 20 credits!”

Latora received a message after graduation. “I want to go to William Patterson University.” Tenisha is now living on campus and working full time.


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