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My future looked dark when I was in high school because I wanted nothing to do with the schools that I was in. North High School was pretty decent except for the lines that separate some people, but other than that, it was a usual high school with typical kids going there. I was doing fairly well in math class when I was there, except when I was in Roosevelt High School in the last year of my freshman year. I was failing math. I had passed every class except for math, but that was only because there were many more kids there. I didn't have one-on-one help like I did at North even though there were two teachers in the class at Roosevelt High School. It did no good at all. So, when I found out about this program called Gateway to College, Well, I ditched the high schools and went to the program instead.
It took me a good 2 years and a half, but I managed and pushed through with my family supporting me. I was able to graduate because of that. My road wasn't easy to go down and some people might say differently, but to me, the work was still there. I had to go through it. I felt like quitting at times, but I needed to graduate. I had excellent instructors and couldn't ask for better ones. It was at my own pace and my own times. It was a great program and I truly love being there. I never had so many people supporting me especially, when it came to dealing with school subjects. Everyone was helping and I couldn't have asked for better teachers.
The teachers also gave me the chance to go to Washington D.C to be a part of Opportunity Nation and Opportunity Iowa. I still have my ID and my business cards from the trip. The trip gave me a chance to see what our government looks like and the buildings that they do everything in. We couldn't see the sessions that were taking place, but that was okay. It was still awesome to see Washington D.C. It gave me a chance to talk with our U.S Representatives and Senators. We were not able to talk to Senator Grassley, but it was still cool to be there. I was interviewed by a New York reporter that came down to the summit. I had the chance to introduce the Vice President of America, who was Joe Biden at the time. I couldn't introduce him because he was sick and so they arranged for me to meet the Secretary of Labor. While I was in Washington, D.C., I also got the chance to sight-see and see The White House.
I was given many opportunities while being in Gateway to College. I was glad that I had the chance to do everything. Now, I am moving onward to my future that waits for me, after I complete my Associates Degree in Graphic Designs or maybe working with computers, where I tear them apart and put them back together. Who knows? I have many opportunities that are open for me. I look forward to completing my Associates Degree and making my dreams come true.
–Tessa Conklin, 2016

I am a Public Ally, I was the last one picked for the 2013-2014 year. I was blessed to be placed with Julie Fugenschuh, who is the executive director of Project Iowa. The purpose of Project Iowa is to train unemployed and under-employed Iowans to get living wage careers. It is an amazing program that helps turn people's lives around, not just for themselves but for the community as a whole. It is awesome to see and hear the difference that being a participant with Project Iowa makes in a person's life. Julie truly cares about those she helps and works tirelessly trying to find more employers to match participants with. Project Iowa will turn two years old in February, and I am happy to be there to see it! This opportunity is changing my life by seeing there are still genuine caring people in this world, and that I should not give up my goal to become a leader who cares and wants to make a difference. –Melissa K Thompson, Des Moines 2014

I am currently involved with the Gateway to college program at the Southridge DMACC campus, which has changed my life in many positive ways. I thank Public Allies of Iowa and Americorps for giving me this incredible opportunity to participate in this 10 month internship to work with at-risk students by achieving their high school diploma/college credit. My story involves many major setbacks and I thank God for his grace and for giving me the perseverance to overcome. I would love to share my story. –Becky White, Indianola 2014