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Gateway to College Graduate a Glowing Example for Her Peers

June, 2019
  • Recent graduate Jentiza Negron with her mentor QCC Campus Police Officer Catherine “Kate” Dixon.
    Recent graduate Jentiza Negron with her mentor QCC Campus Police Officer Catherine “Kate” Dixon.
  • From left: Governor Charlie Baker, Lauren Baker, Jenitza Negron and Eliot Tatelman.
    At the Youth Achievement Celebration at Jordan’s Furniture in Reading Jentiza Negron was recognized by Governor Chalrie Baker, his wife Lauren Baker and Eliot Tatelman of jordan;s Furniture.

For some students, conventional high school isn’t the best way for them to learn. Too often these students drop out of school because they feel overwhelmed with traditional high school and have no place to turn. For those students who get bounced around different foster care homes in their youth, high school can sometimes be even more difficult.  Gateway to College recent graduate Jentiza Negron was one such student. As someone who had spent time in numerous foster care homes and different high schools she felt defeated; eventually giving up on high school.

“I had been through foster care and been in different high schools and I just gave up. Then one day I decided I wanted to do more with myself,” she said.

Right before her 19th birthday Ms. Negron attended a Gateway to College information session, applied to the program and was accepted. She has excelled in the program, no small feat as she worked as many as three jobs while attending the program. She acknowledging that it can sometimes be hard juggling work and school, but said it was important for her to get her degree and continue to advance her future.

 “I started here and it’s been an awesome learning experience. It was easier and more convenient. School is fun for me and I enjoy the challenge,” she said.

On May 30, she graduated from the Gateway to College program after three semesters with a GPA of over 3.0. She also earned the Linda Huddle Award, which is awarded to students who earned a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or higher. Currently she is taking summer classes at QCC and plans to work toward her associate degree in Criminal Justice, with the intent of graduating next May. She is considering transferring to Fitchburg State University after she graduates. Her goal is to become a probation officer or probation court specialist for troubled youth. She said she wants to “be a voice that will be heard” for young people.

She credits QCC Campus Police Officer Catherine “Kate” Dixon with her interest in police work and law enforcement.

“Officer Dixon has helped me overcome obstacles and inspired me,” she said. “I know what it’s like to be a youth that no one is watching or who believes in them,” she said, adding that she has also found a tremendous support system in the Gateway staff and faculty.

“Gateway has really changed my life completely,” she continued.

In early May, Ms. Negron attended the Youth Achievement Celebration at Jordan’s Furniture in Reading. The event celebrates youth in foster care who have earned their high school and college degrees, often overcoming innumerable obstacles. At the event she met Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker and was even featured in a video about her journey through school.

Senior Gateway Outreach Counselor Jenna Glazer said Ms. Negron is a student who has always understood the value of this type of program and has been an inspiration to other students.

“She puts schooling first and realizes that it’s her ticket to the future. She sets a good example for the other Gateway students,” Ms. Glazer said, noting she is a mentor for incoming students in the “Design Your Life” Lab, where she is a teaching assistant.

Ms. Negron has a bit of advice for other students who are facing life challenges.

“You have to know where you’ve been; where you want to be in life and how to get there.”

To learn more about this innovative program, visit QCC Gateway to College.