Montgomery County Community College recently held a special a graduation ceremony for four area students who earned their high school diplomas—an achievement made possible by their hard work and Montgomery County Community College’s (MCCC) Gateway to College program.
Winston Downing, Jr., of Cheltenham School District, Shanya Ford of Pottsgrove School District and Deasia Parter and Scott Montague, II, both of Wissahickon School District, successfully completed their high school graduation requirements and are ready for their next steps.
“This was not easy, but you have what it takes to make it happen,” said Gateway Program Director Dr. Keima Sheriff to the graduates. “As you move forward in life, no matter how challenging life may get, don’t forget your vision and your goals.”
The graduates shared their plans with the audience of family, friends, school district representatives and MCCC faculty and staff. Downing plans to seek full-time employment while Ford will be starting an internship at Pottstown Hospital. Montague has enlisted in the U.S. Navy, and Parter plans to attend Oakwood University and major in business.
The following awards were presented during the ceremony:
- Perfect Attendance – Deasia Parter and Citlalli Vega (Upper Merion)
- Most Determined – Debra Eldridge (Upper Perkiomen) and Cesar Antonio Villanueva (Wissahickon)
- Most Improved – Shanya Ford (Pottsgrove) and Citlalli Vega
- Change of Heart – Cheyenne Lewis (Upper Merion)
- Most Courageous – Shanya Ford and Robert Compton (Cheltenham)
- Overall Foundation Student – Deasia Parter
- College Readiness – Joseph Drayton (Perkiomen Valley) and Oumou Diallo (Upper Merion)
Part of a national network, MCCC’s Gateway to College program and its dedicated staff and faculty help students stay on track to successfully complete the requirements they need for graduation. Since MCCC launched the program in 2013 at its campuses in Blue Bell and Pottstown, 136 students earned their high school diplomas.
Eighteen school districts collaborate with MCCC, referring students to the program. Additionally, partners Waste Management, PECO, Wells Fargo, Univest, TD Bank, the Kahn family, the Maguire Foundation, the Malik family, Ambler Savings, Thompkins VIST Bank, First Priority Bank, Montco Works and the Gateway to College National Network have provided financial support for the program and student scholarships. One of the programs’ most recent supporters, Penn Community Bank, represented by Beverly Boland, participated in the graduation. As a way to show their support for the program and graduates, Boland pinned each graduate with a boutonniere or corsage.
“I believe the true success of the program is the tireless dedication of the entire Gateway team, and I cannot thank them enough for their work in supporting our students,” said Dr. Sheriff. “We work together to make the goal of student completion the primary focus of the program.”
The team includes Dean of Student Affairs Dr. Nicole Henderson, Program Director Dr. Keima Sheriff, Resource Specialist Jezerey Weiderman, Resource Specialist Esau Collins, English Assistant Professor Diane McDonald, Reading Senior Lecturer Karen Harding-Tasca, Math Instructor Stephanie Wuertz, Math Senior Lecturer Donald Slaughter, English Instructor Tracey Fida, Psychology Instructor Amon Gibson and Psychology Instructor Kathleen Nash and Math Instructor Durrell Jones.
Because of its success, the Gateway program at MCCC was one of 10 community college programs nationwide to be named a finalist for the prestigious 2018 Bellwether Award in the Instructional Programs & Services Category.