Yvonne Martinez

As a pre-teen we feel as if everything around us is easy to get, and we forget that we still live under the wings of our parents. We have no experience of being on our own or  knowing what it means to be an independent individual, and I thought life was easy, which  consequently, led me to many wrong turns. During freshman year in high school, I was a  young teenager who was impatient to live an adult life. I was not so interested in my education or nor did I think of myself as a future college student. My grades were not all  bad for a student who wouldn’t bother showing up to class every day. So, I took school as  a joke, because I thought if I was able to manage good grades and not come to school, then why go? I began to hang around with the wrong group of people, which led me to  miss a lot more school, and going to court for truancy. I was one of those. One of those  students I now complain about because of their ungrateful actions and their thoughts  over being in school. After my freshman year, I dropped out and I moved out of my mother’s house. I was all on my own after that and would have the chance to learn the difficulties life would bring.
After dropping out and moving out, I attempted to take GED classes but was unsuccessful. I was so far down the pit of misery I couldn’t get myself out of it, but then I decided it was time for me to go back to school. I thought that maybe all the friends I called friends were wrong, and my education was important and I just wanted to be around people. I changed schools because I didn’t want students questioning my in and out presence. I finished my junior year and did great, but during summer break I had found out I was expecting a baby. I was terrified at the fact that I was going to become one of those usual girls, who get knocked up during high school. So, I dropped my education because I was afraid what others would think of me, but i didn’t know that I was so wrong in doing this. I took a whole year off of school to prepare myself financially and emotionally for my son’s arrival. As my due date came closer, I looked at myself and blamed myself for the bad example I was going to set for my son. I had no education and I considered myself a quitter, because every time the situation got difficult I dropped everything and left.
Then a Migrant counselor who works with students until they graduate or until they turn twenty-one visited with me. She came to convince me in giving school another chance. The counselor told me about a program named Gateway to College, and she explained how the whole program works for those students in the district to recover lost credits. The program was held in Donnelly College, and they offer students college credits as well as their remaining high school credits. That was the day I knew I would fight for a better life, and would become a better role model for my family and myself.

The enrollment for Gateway is a process of several steps; the instructors first asked us present to them to explain how we will get through the program. We then wrote about a certain subject, and had an interview. Finally, they selected students they thought would be a good fit for the program, and deserved a second chance. I was one of those lucky students to be accepted into the program, and I was astonished and grateful for the opportunity. To be a foundation student for the Fall 2015 meant everything to me beginning with hope. The foundation semester includes prep classes to prepare you for your college classes, and test you to see if you have a future in the program. The semester was full of hard work and stress, and there were days when i just wanted to get up and leave but I knew I was better than that. I finished the semester and became a transition student; a transition student is when a student gets the chance to receive full credit hours in actual college courses. I was also given the opportunity to skip a math class into intermediate algebra, despite the fact that I was an arithmetic student, and the course would be a lot more difficult and would require a lot of outside of school study.
As a transition student, I am currently taking full college credit classes with other college students, and my credits will be transferable to any college who accepts them. Gateway has opened many opportunities to me as well as an acceptance to the actual college, Donnelly College. I will be graduating in the Fall of 2016 and will be enrolled into the college for the Spring of 2017. Thankfully, because of my supporters here at Donnelly I will pursue my dream of becoming a college student, and I was able to create a support system that is helping me accomplish my goals.
I would like to become a dentist, and that is my strongest long-term goal. During my time here at Gateway I have been introduced to many individuals who can guide me on to that direction. I couldn’t have chosen a better program than Gateway. They have given me my hope back, and they were not only my instructors but they became my friends as well. I will forever be grateful for this program, and I feel there should be more responsible students joining this program because it is an amazing opportunity."

I am incredibly proud of her and the future outlook is fresh and with vigor.  Through struggle & strife she keeps fighting for what she wants.  An investment now in the lives of young people, like Reyna, will bring great rewards to all of us.  Watching this young woman’s growth brings great pride to all of us.

Miriam Mendez

Photo of Miriam MendezDo you believe in second opportunities? I do! The definition of triumph will vary according to each person's perspective on life, but the truth is that there is no triumph without failure. That is why it is vital to embrace failure and keep on moving forward. For this purpose, Gateway to College is in existence and that is to mark a pathway to a lifelong journey of success.

I remember when I first found out about Gateway, I was doubtful of its existence because with all honesty, it seemed too good to be true. I had begun to convince myself that I was not made for school, but for some strange reason, Gateway felt like home. I dropped out of high school with only one high school credit, which was why I was initially rejected into the program. I was rejected due to my lack of credits, which placed my graduation date after the required age limit.
At first, I was very upset. I had raised my hopes up so high that I found myself daydreaming on a day to day basis. Until, one day as I woke up, I realized that change will not come easy and that the only way I would reach my goals would be through action. I then decided to dig deeper into my situation and started to become creative about my options.

My determination led me to 500 Reach Virtual Learning Center as a solution to my acceptance into the Gateway to College program. 500 Reach serves as an educational program designed for both high school students and adult students to earn their high school diploma. It is considered a fully accredited virtual program that offers face-to-face access and support from an onsite instructor.

Most people doubted my acceptance as I seemed to be short on time, and as a result I took the completion of my high school diploma as a personal challenge. I initially applied into the Gateway to College program in April of 2015, with the intention of being accepted into the Fall semester of 2015, all which placed me on a time limit of four months to complete as many high school credits as possible. For months, I worked relentlessly on my online classes and by the month of August I had earned a total of eleven high school credits. I then, very humbly, reported an updated version of my transcript and officially received my acceptance into the Gateway to College program.

Gateway is set to help every single student strive in his or her education. Success is achievable as long as students stay on top of their responsibilities by avoiding distractions. The duration of each student’s participation in the program is scheduled to fit and meet the different requirements of each student. Every student begins his or her journey into Gateway with a Foundation semester, which consists of basic courses. The goal of this Foundation semester is to prepare students for their transition into college classes, both academically and mentally.

As I began my Foundation semester, I discovered many advantages students are exposed to. For example, students receive the same treatment any other college student would receive.  Additionally, students are offered the resources required to succeed and the professors are willing to work one-on-one as well as tutors which are made available, free of charge. I can say that my Foundation semester has so far been my favorite semester in the program because it happened at the time when I discovered self-love and self-motivation.

I was able to successfully complete my Foundation semester and officially transitioned into college classes for the Spring semester of 2016. I was surprised to discover that what at one point was seen as impossible, began to feel like a piece of cake. I adapted my value over education with my motivation and discovered that everyone wants to be successful, but in order to become successful, students need motivation.

Motivation is a very important quality that Gateway to College students must have in order to succeed in the program. It helps students start building a future and gives them the initiative to work harder. Having motivation will help to excel in school expectations. While the majority of people will do only what is required, Gateway to College students are encouraged to go further. GTC staff constantly remind students of the importance of having an increased education and help them be and remain motivated. The process towards the completion of the program may seem difficult and prolonged at times, but being motivated and goal oriented will have only positive outcome. While difficult challenges will always be present, motivation will help you overcome them successfully.

Thanks to my dedication and commitment, I will be graduating from the Gateway to College program with a total of 35 college credits and my high school diploma. I am very proud of myself for achieving this goal. This is one small but important step towards my long term goal of becoming a lawyer. The opportunity to pursue a good education is not one that I take lightly, mostly due to my personal life experiences before being accepted into the Gateway to College program. I believe that the combination of my life experience, as well as my desire to complete my studies, gives me a unique perspective on things, academic and otherwise, and will eventually lead me to that success that I desire.

Rodrigo Palominos

Photo of Rodrigo PalominosI've been at Donnelly College through the Gateway to College program for about two years now. The ability to receive college credits while finishing my high school credits is what interested me in the program. I've also been given many other opportunities while attending the program. I've worked as a math/English tutor for the College for the past three semesters, and I've also worked as a TTMaSA group leader over the summer.

I've been given the chance to visit many different colleges while here at Donnelly College, all of which have been provided entirely by either Donnelly College or the Gateway to College program. I'm thankful for all of the opportunities that Donnelly College and the Gateway to College program have given me while attending the school and the program.


Juliana Sanchez

Photo of Juliana SanchezMy name is Juliana Isabel Sanchez. I am nineteen years old. I am currently on my last semester of The Gateway to College Program. This program is a wonderful and final opportunity for high school students to receive the credits they are missing in order to obtain their high school diploma. The credits that the student is missing are received only through taking college courses at Donnelly College (or another university, depending on the state). The advantage of taking the classes needed in a college environment is that you also receive college credits. In order for me to explain how I have come to be a part of this program I have to share a little bit about myself; my background.

Neither my mom nor my dad have a college education. My father dropped out of elementary school in order to help provide for his family. My mother dropped out as a freshman to take care of my older sister once she was born. I also dropped out. I dropped out my sophomore year at Sumner Academy of Arts and Science. Sumner Academy, just in case you are unfamiliar with the school, is a school that only recruits students who meet their expectations. It is a school that assigns homework very frequently and requires near to zero absences in order to be able to succeed in your classes. It also requires you to maintain above a 2.5 GPA. I was doing very well at Sumner Academy. When I was fifteen my step father was incarcerated and my mother became neglectful. Aside from what was going on at home I still managed to keep my grades up. I later become pregnant at sixteen. My due date was in May so it gave me a chance to finish my sophomore year. I started my junior year with my son being a few months old but later decided that it was too much for me to handle. I dropped out of school so I could fully focus on caring and raising my beautiful child.

After quitting school, the winter of 2012 my mother also became incarcerated. That is when I officially decided that I wanted a better future for myself and for my son. I decided I needed to return to and finish school. By the 2013 school year my son was a little older and required less attention than before. He could now walk, and talk a little. It was easier to find someone willing to watch him. This is when I became a part of the Gateway to College Program.
Being a part of the Gateway to College Program has inspired me to attend college. Before this program my goal was just to graduate high school. I have now realized that college is the key to success. College provides opportunity, stability, and time for personal growth. Higher education will not only create a greater job opportunity but will also provide people with the proper skills required to excel in a specific area. A college education also creates the meaningful urge for people to seek to be the best person that they can, in all aspects. A lot of people, in trying to better themselves, extend a helping hand to the community through local charities. This aspect doesn’t only benefit personal growth but also our community and its social wellness. That is why college has become very important to me.

I am now receiving my high school diploma in December along with 32 college credits. I plan to stay here at Donnelly College which has provided me with an amazing environment and outstanding faculty who care about me. I want to receive my associate’s degree here than I later hope to transfer to a different university and receive a bachelors in an area in which I have not yet decided. I hope the classes required for my associate’s degree, and internships I have planned, will help me decide on a career that is right for me. I have made it this far under all types of circumstances and I plan to accomplish my goals no matter what obstacles life has to offer. There is always the option of dreaming a bigger dream.

Brandon Tilden

Photo of Brandon TildenGateway to College has offered me the chance to do something I never thought could be possible, have a college experience, and not only was I able to experience it, I was also guided through it by some of the best personalities a person could ask for. The staff of gateway to college were there for me throughout my entire stay at Donnelly, and it was with their help and guidance I was able to push through the semesters and obtain my High School Diploma. When I got off track, there was always Juan and Ms. Deb who would help guide me back to where I needed to be. With that being said the overall experience of gateway to college was a very pleasant one, the college itself, Donnelly, was a spectacular place to be with teachers who went out of their way to help you. The classes were small, which made it easier to have discussions about the learning material with teachers and peers, there would always be time to have a teacher look over your work and give you tips.

All in all without the help of the staff at gateway to college, including the Academic Advisors such as Annie and Paul, I’m not so sure many kids would actually go all the way through the program. It’s basically like having a second family, we all try to help each other and are open with one another with a directive to maximize our potential possibilities within our college experience.  I would highly recommend the program at any and all who wish to be able to experience college in a time where doing so could put you in debt, and with the staff presently over-watching the program it would be a highly beneficial process. I’m very grateful that I was able to receive this chance, and though I hit some bumps along the road, it was one of the best experiences I could have ever asked for.