by Diane VanDyke
Montgomery County Community College’s Gateway to College Program hosted its first Awards and Graduation Ceremony recently at its Central Campus in Blue Bell.
After participating in the Gateway to College program for the fall semester, Brittany Harding completed her high school requirements and received her diploma from Director of Curriculum Dr. David Weber on behalf of the Hatboro-Horsham School District. It was a proud moment for Harding and her family.
“After I became a mother, people told me I would not be able to finish school,” Harding said. “But, my daughter inspired me. I want the best future for her, which means I have to finish my education and get a steady job. . . Making the decision to follow my dream is one I will never regret.”
Now that she has completed this first milestone in her educational journey, Harding looks forward to taking college courses during the 2014 Spring semester at Montgomery County Community College. She plans to get her associate’s degree in Mathematics and then get her bachelor’s degree so she can be a math teacher.
Harding is one of 21 students in MCCC’s first Gateway class that started in September 2013. MCCC is only 1 of only 43 higher education institutions in the country (and one of only two in the state) selected to participate in this program, which offers at-risk high school students a second chance to earn their diplomas and pursue college degrees. To date, 13 school districts and the Workforce Investment Board have partnered with MCCC, creating one of the largest collaborations in the Gateway program.
“My Gateway students are some of the most resilient and capable young people I have had the pleasure of supporting on their academic journey. Many are faced with incredibly difficult life circumstances yet they consistently attend school, participate in a rigorous learning environment and meet the expectations of the program. While this program is designed for students who are at-risk of not completing high school, my students prove that if given the opportunity to excel they can and will rise to the occasion. They are dreamers who have found a dreaming space at the MCCC GtC program,” said Keima Sheriff, MCCC’s Gateway program director.
In addition to celebrating Harding’s milestone achievement, Sheriff, along with Gateway Resource Specialists Lori Davidson and Esau Collins and MCCC Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management Kathrine Swanson, recognized students for their achievements. Fourteen students completed the Foundation Semester portion of the program and will now transition as mainstreamed college students and continue taking classes while learning to work more independently.
The students with the highest GPAs were Brittany Harding (Hatboro-Horsham School District) and Dejah McMillan (Pottsgrove School District). Carlas Rich (Phoenixville Area School District) and Khary Harris (Norristown Area School District) earned the Most Improved (GPA, attendance and attitude) awards. Marcus Gordon (Pottsgrove School District) and Rosemary Lux (Norristown Area School District) received The Most Determined awards. Isaiah Heverly (Phoenixville Area School District) and Peter Edwards (Norristown Area School District) received The Change of Heart (improved approach to learning). Anthony Hall (Phoenixville Area School District) and Amber Keys (Norristown Area School District) earned The Most Courageous awards. The Perfect Attendance award was presented to Dejah McMillan. The overall Gateway to College award (GPA, attendance and participation) was presented to Rachel Voltz (Upper Merion School District).
Several students were recognized as Gateway Achievers (average GPA of 2.5 or higher): Dejah McMillan, Faith Owens, Anthony Hall, Marcus Gordon, Rachel Voltz, Rosemary Lux, Amber Keys, Khary Harris, Brittany Harding and Yasmin Rich. The 14 students who completed the Foundation Semester and are transitioning to mainstream college courses are: Khary Harris, Amber Keys, Rosemary Lux, Yasmin Rich, Michael Sharky, Nicole Snyder, Rachel Voltz, Marcus Gordon, Anthony Hall, Isaiah Heverly, Alexandra Johns, Dejah McMillan, Faith Owens and Carlas Rich.