Gateway to College students see fruits of their hard work

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By Regis L. Roberts

In their 11 weeks in the Gateway to College program on this campus, students who were high school dropouts not long ago are proving their ability to succeed in school. The program is in its first semester at this college. It gives high school dropouts and students in danger of dropping out of high school a chance to earn a diploma while receiving college credit by taking classes on this campus in English, math and reading.

Nancy Cobb, director of the program, said when students in the program took the Accuplacer in advance of the Flex 2 schedule, she did not have any expectations as to how the students would perform.

To her surprise and delight, 13 of the 50 students in the program tested at college level.

Cobb said she was confident that the students were ready for college courses and enrolled 12 of the students in Flex 2 classes; one of the 13 students was not able to fit in one class, she said.

Charline Gutierrez, who dropped out of John Jay High School during her senior year, is enrolled in ENGL 1301, Freshman Composition 1.

She said the English and reading sections of the Accuplacer were a breeze for her, but she struggled in math. Cobb said math is a challenge for a vast majority of students in the program.

Gutierrez said being in the program has prepared her greatly for college courses. She said resource specialist Roland Garza always stressed to her and her fellow students that late work was unacceptable, which she said was a valuable habit to take into college.

A good study routine, which is emphasized in the program through the use of study groups, is also a key to academic success, Cobb said.

Raykita Womack, 19, said people like Cobb and Garza offer support to students beyond school problems.

Womack had problems getting her high school credits to transfer when she came to San Antonio from New Orleans after hurricane Katrina and decided to drop out of high school.

Stephanie Magalios, 18, said skills she gained in the program helped her when she ran the organization of Project Reconnect, an event Gateway to College hosted Oct. 27 to educate people on the importance of completing high school and continuing to college.

Magalios, Gutierrez and Womack said they thought putting the event together, while challenging, would not be as hard as it turned out to be.

Magalios said leadership skills she learned in the program helped her in planning Project Reconnect.

Cobb said this is important, because students are going to become future leaders.

Magalios said she found it hard to get the other students in the program to participate with the planning, but said that for every problem, there is always someone, like Cobb, who can help.

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