Tenisha 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.