Every year, an estimated 1.3 million students drop out of high school. If not for Gateway to College at Donnelly, Selena Quiroz could have easily been one of them. As a student at an area high school, she struggled and was eventually suspended. In spite of the challenges she faced, Quiroz knew she couldn’t give up.
“I want to be the first one in my family to attend college,” she said. “I want to make something of my life.”
Quiroz is one of 50 students who are getting a second chance at earning a high school diploma and beginning the journey of earning a college degree.
Kendal Edwards has sickle cell anemia and missed long periods of high school and fell behind in class work due to extended hospital stays. Just a year ago, graduation seemed like an impossible dream.
“When I heard about the Gateway program, it was something I definitely wanted to do,” said Kendal. “Without education, you won’t succeed in life.”
The program at Donnelly, one of 43 across the nation, welcomed its first cohort of students in August 2013.
“Traditional high school doesn’t work for everyone,” said Juan Rangel, Gateway to College at Donnelly director. “There are many reasons why students fall behind. Frequent absences due to illness and family responsibilities, pregnancy and language challenges are among the many challenges our students have faced.
“Gateway to College gives students a second chance. They can earn a high school diploma and begin working on their associate degree or certificate. Best of all, it’s free,” Rangel said.
Donnelly is the first private institution in the nation and the first in the Greater Kansas City region to become part of the Gateway to College National Network. The College was awarded a $342,500 grant to implement the initiative. During a three-year period, 300 youth, ages 16 to 20, are expected to enroll.
To be admitted, students must demonstrate their readiness through a multi-step interview, evaluation and selection process. Donnelly’s second cohort of Gateway to College students will begin classes in January 2014.
“The Gateway instructors are serious about your education and care about your success,” said Quiroz. “Here, it’s easier to focus, and for me, that’s what it takes.”
Former students in Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools are eligible to apply for Gateway to College at Donnelly. For more information, contact Rangel at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 913.621.8715.