Gateway to College is celebrating commencement season by sharing student success stories. Each week, we'll share stories from a different region of the US, and this week we focus on the South and Southeast. Celebrate with us, and check out our Facebook for more.
Published July 11, 2012 through South Texas College News blog
“I made some bad choices while I was in my senior year in high school. It wasn’t peer pressure. It’s all on me,” explained Heriberto. “The problem was that I let myself get distracted, and I think it happens to a lot of students. College was never a big thing for my friends, but I had thought about it. Coming to the Gateway Program was a fresh start…The environment here is a lot better. The distractions were removed. I felt like an adult and I felt responsible for myself.”
“I don’t think if it were run at the high school I would have made it,” Aviles said of the program’s environment. “On a daily basis it was a great experience. I came to the campus and it was better than a high school routine. You get space and opportunity to study during your free time. There are computers to use. Everything was self-paced and I wasn’t stuck in a classroom all day. I was able to get through my studies quickly and that was motivating. This program was a second chance. It gave me the motivation to finish.”
“In high school I was a decent student, but my performance through the program was better because I am motivated now; I just don’t think I was mature enough and that’s why I dropped out,” he said. “The program staff helped me transition out of the program and enroll at South Texas College. Now I am in the college’s Automotive Technology Program.”
Aviles feels he has set a good example for his friends that didn’t choose to finish high school.
“My friends that didn’t go to college, or even finish high school, are proud and motivating me to continue on. And a couple of them are asking about the Gateway Program and they see me in college. It might get them back on track too,” he said. “The program is very important in changing lives in the community. It gives students the chance to get their lives straight and make something of themselves.
“I don’t even know where I would be without going through the program. I probably would have been just sitting at home,” he continued. “It’s never too late. Opportunities are there for you, you just have to be willing to do the work. It has to come from you—the motivation.”
And he feels his future, which was once uncertain, is now very bright and full of opportunity.
“I am a full-time college student now and I plan to earn my certificate and then eventually get my associate’s degree. It will give me good earning potential,” he said. “In the future I want to do custom automotive work and I would also like to take business courses so I can open my own shop. I also plan to travel, but I want to work here in the long-term and give back to my community because it gave me a better chance for the future. Even when you think you can’t do something, you can. You can accomplish what you want if you are willing.”