Walking to the familiar “Pomp and Circumstance” march, seven area students were greeted by their families and school district representatives as they took their seats of honor to receive their high school diplomas—an accomplishment made possible through Montgomery County Community College’s (MCCC) Gateway to College program and their hard work.
If the students were asked a year ago whether they would be graduating from high school, they probably would have said no. For various reasons, the students were not on track to graduate, but MCCC’s Gateway to College changed their future. Part of a national network, MCCC’s Gateway program enables students to complete their high school requirements, receive their diplomas and continue taking college courses, all with the guidance and support of MCCC’s dedicated staff and faculty.
Since MCCC launched the program in 2013 at its campuses in Blue Bell and Pottstown, 116 students earned their high school diplomas. Eighteen school districts collaborate with MCCC, referring students to the program. Additionally, community partners PECO and Wells Fargo have provided financial support for the program, as well as student scholarships.
“When I am asked about Gateway, I say how Gateway to College literally saves lives. I’m not talking about metaphorically; I’m talking literally saves lives. Gateway has taken our students, who really were at the end of where they could be, and has given them a new life and has helped them to succeed. We can’t speak highly enough about the program. It’s been wonderful for us and for our students and their families,” said Dr. Robert J. Milrod, superintendent of Upper Moreland School District.
In March 2017, MCCC’s Gateway to College program was one of only eight programs nationwide to receive the Excellence Award from the Gateway to College National Network. The Network includes more than 40 programs at community colleges throughout the country. MCCC and the Community College of Philadelphia are the only two schools in Pennsylvania to offer the program.
MCCC’s success with the program has earned it a nomination for the national Bellwether Award, which recognizes outstanding and innovative programs and practices at community colleges. The awards will be announced at the 2018 Community Colleges Futures Assembly conference Jan. 28-30 in Orlando, Florida.
For the seven graduates, the program will enable them to continue taking college courses at MCCC this spring.
“It is a beautiful day to celebrate a major achievement—your high school graduation. This is not your only achievement or your last, but it is a major achievement. Congratulations,” Gateway Director Keima Sheriff told the graduates.
The graduates are: Michael Burhannan, Upper Moreland School District; Devonte Burrell, Wissahickon School District; Destin Fulton, Commonwealth Diploma (no school district affiliation); Brocke Garnett, Upper Merion School District; Stephanie Marburger, Commonwealth Diploma; Ariona Roberson-Carter, Phoenixville School District; and Connor Yocum, Phoenixville School District.
During the ceremony, several first semester student received the following awards:
Most Improved (West Campus) - Dennis Knox, Pottsgrove School District
Most Improved (Central Campus) - William Moser, Perkiomen Valley School District
Most Determined (West) - Ty’Janet Bentley, Pottsgrove School District
Most Determined (Central) - Elijah Potemski Douglass, Perkiomen Valley School District
Change of Heart (West) - Connor Yocum, Phoenixville School District
Courageous Award (West) - Morganne Graves, Pottsgrove School District
Courageous Award (Central) - Jada Young, Upper Merion School District
Overall Gateway to College Student (West) - Ty’Janet Bentley, Pottsgrove School District
Overall Gateway to College Student (Central) - Katherine Dunne, Colonial School District
Academic Excellence (highest GPA in cohort, West) - Tyshawn Thomas, Phoenixville School District
Academic Excellence (highest GPA in cohort, Central):
1. Elijah Potemski Douglass, Perkiomen Valley School District
2. Hayden Knott, Perkiomen Valley School District
3. Katherine Dunne, Colonial School District
Additionally, the following transition (continuing) students received the following awards:
Perseverance Award (West) - Kristian Heard, Pottsgrove School District
Perseverance Award (Central) - Destin Fulton, Commonwealth Diploma
Rising Star Award (West) - Stephanie Marburger, Commonwealth Diploma
Rising Star Award (Central) - James Breinig, Jenkintown School District