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Gateway to College Staff Hits the Road to Celebrate Graduates

June, 2020
  • Gateway graduate Serena Hughes and her family.
    Gateway graduate Serena Hughes and her family.
  • Gateway graduate Ninoshka “Nino” Rabell-Santana proudly shows off her diploma.
    Gateway graduate Ninoshka “Nino” Rabell-Santana proudly shows off her diploma.
  • Gateway graduate Jared Mosely celebrates with his family.
    Gateway graduate Jared Mosely celebrates with his family.
  • Gateway graduate Brenna King shares her special moment with her dad.
    Gateway graduate Brenna King shares her special moment with her dad.
  • Gateway graduate Julia Bohan and her family.
    Gateway graduate Julia Bohan and her family.
  • Gateway graduate Joe Poirier with his proud parents.
    Gateway graduate Joe Poirier with his proud parents.
  • Gateway graduate Tyler Steward and family.
    Gateway graduate Tyler Steward and family.
  • From left: Gateway to College Director Marci Skillings, graduate Joe Poirier and Gateway Counselor Jenna Glazer.
    From left: Gateway to College Director Marci Skillings, graduate Joe Poirier and Gateway Counselor Jenna Glaze
  • Gateway Counselor Jenna Glazer's rescue dog, Feeney, got in on the well wishes to graduates..
    Gateway Counselor Jenna Glazer's rescue dog, Feeney, got in on the well wishes to graduates.

High school graduation is a special time in a student’s life but it’s even more so for those students who have overcome adversity and beat the odds. For 27 students in Quinsigamond Community College’s Gateway to College Program, the dream of graduating from high school became a reality this month and they became a part of the historic Class of 2020. 

The students were part of QCC’s Gateway to College Program that was developed for students between the ages of 16-21, who have dropped out of high school or are at risk of dropping out. Students accepted into the program work on obtaining their high school diplomas, while also simultaneously earning college credits.

Due to the pandemic, this year’s graduating class was unable to hold an in-person graduation ceremony; however, the Gateway staff still wanted to hold some type of special celebration to commemorate the accomplishments of the students.

“Gateway to College has always had a really personal graduation ceremony, and it was something we were all really sad to miss out on this year. Celebrating the accomplishments of our students is a great way to end the school year,” said Senior Gateway Outreach Counselor, Jenna Glazer.

QCC’s Gateway to College Director Marci Skillings came up with the idea of a “Grad 2 Go” graduation celebration that entailed the Gateway staff stopping by each graduates’ homes, taking photos and wishing them well. Prior to the Gateway staff visits, the students were sent caps, gowns, diplomas, and as well as “Class of 2020” masks to make the event feel extra special.

“What’s more personal than Gateway staff coming to your house? All together, we visited 15 of our graduates over six days. I drove 267 miles in total. One day we started at a farm and ended on a lake,” Ms. Glazer said. “High school graduation is something many of us (myself included) took for granted, but for many of our students, it seemed impossible for a long time. It was definitely not the graduation any of us expected but it felt “right,” in the sense that it was very personal and really demonstrated the relationship that we have with our students and how much we care about them. Students and their families were grateful that we took the time to visit everyone. It will be a graduation that we’ll all remember for a long time.”

Despite graduating in the midst of a pandemic and an abrupt shift to remote learning, most of the students graduated with special honors (college GPA over 3.0 or 3.7), a testament to the determination and perseverance of the Gateway students.

Gateway graduate Ninoshka “Nino” Rabell-Santana said the Gateway to College Program was a true gateway to a better life and opportunity for her.

“Being a part of the Gateway to College community made me feel it was OK to not to be perfect. It taught me it was OK to fail in life over and over again until I was finally able to succeed in life,” she said. “Gateway has been such a blessing to me and to everyone in it.”

Each year the graduates are asked to answer a survey. One of the questions posed asked them what the most important thing was that they learned while in the Gateway program. Answers ran the gamut from independence, time management and patience to understanding that their life isn’t over, it’s just beginning.

According to Ms. Skillings, most of the graduates will be staying on at QCC to complete their degrees, while others will be attending Worcester State University or UMass Amherst.

Her sentiment to the graduates is one she hopes they will remember.

“You have all balanced a new normal and graduated in the midst of a pandemic. That is so amazing and we are so proud.  You will always be a part of the Gateway to College family and have a special place in our hearts and here at QCC.  We wish you the best as you head out in a world of unknowns and we know you will succeed because you showed us you could and we believed just as you did.”

Gateway Class of 2020:

  • Mary Astorga**
  • Nate Berthiahume
  • Allyson Bishop*
  • Julia Bohan**
  • Gabby Boivin*
  • Adren Demac**
  • Emily Dodge*
  • Raykel Dufrense
  • Brittney Dziejma**
  • William Guenette
  • Deborah Holan
  • Serena Hughes*
  • Brenna King
  • Tyler Martinelli*
  • Mia Mascitelli**
  • Arvid Mikkila*
  • Isabella Monserrate*
  • Jared Mosely
  • John (JT) Phinney**
  • Joseph Poirier
  • Ninoshka “Nino” Rabell-Santana
  • Brandon Roux
  • Danielle Ryan
  • Saahil Srivastava*
  • Tyler Steward*

*Linda Huddle Award winners (GPA over 3.0)

**President’s Award Winners (GPA over 3.7)

For more information on the program visit www.QCC.edu/Gateway.

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