Gateway Community College celebrates 50 years with Runway to Success

Photo courtesy of Runway to Success

Gateway Community College is celebrating its 50-year anniversary and throwing the party of the half century. For the 4th year, the school will put on Runway to Success, a night to highlight exceptional students and hear their stories as they walk the runway in attire representing their future careers.

“A lot of us go to many different galas and hear a lot of speakers and we thought we needed to do something different,” Development Officer at Gateway Ann Blatté said. “We thought, ‘How cool would it be just to bring them out wearing what they want to be when they graduate and just present their stories in a different way.’ And that’s kind of how it started.”

Attendees will enjoy dinner, a fashion show by local fashion celebrity Robert Black, and of course the main event sharing 12 students’ stories as they walk down the runway.

Due to an abundance of applications in previous years, this year students were nominated by faculty and staff. Those nominated were honored as exemplary ambassadors for the school with important stories to tell.

For example, 26-year-old Frida Leon who hopes to one day become a physical therapist assistant. “I would like to offer some help to poor countries that might benefit from physical therapy services that can’t afford it. It would be a dream; I hope it comes true one day,” Leon said.

But Leon didn’t have an easy pathway to Gateway. She is a DACA student and victim of domestic violence, a life which lead her to moving homes, all while juggling a full-time job. But that didn’t stop her from pursuing her education.

“I think they saw in me that I was interested even though I was struggling with managing a full-time job among these issues. I asked for help with additional notes or anything that could help me so I could remain in the program,” she said.

Leon hopes that when people see her walking down the runway and hear her story, they will feel motivated. “I feel like it can be a way to motivate other students and if they are struggling in whatever program they’re in, they [know they] can continue, there is help out there,” Leon said.

Guests will also meet Amy Ross, a 49-year old student who strives to be a substance abuse counselor who never had the confidence to step through the doors of a college until last year. “I just walked onto [Gateway} because I wanted to see how it was, what the people were like there, and I found it to be like a small community. Like a little family in itself, I felt comfortable there,” Ross said.

Ross was a drug addict for 22 years. “I started using at a very young age, I was 12 and I started using with my parents actually. At 15 I wandered out on my own, started heavier drugs, and at age 16 I had a child, another child at 22, and within it I was an addict.”

Today, Ross has been clean for 14 years.

“Becoming a substance abuse counselor, I’m not looking at is as a career, even though it is, it’s my passion. I want to help somebody like somebody helped me. I want to help be a part of [ending] this horrible epidemic,” Ross said.

Being able to be a role model and represent those like her at Runway to Success is important to Ross. “This is a big thing for me, it’s something where I’m finally stepping out and people are going to hear my story and see where I’m at and where I’ve been,” she said.

The event will be held this Friday, April 26th from 5:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at the Clayton House.

“It really is a fun event. It’s fast-moving, there’s a lot to see and do and absorb, a great way to spend a Friday,” Blatté said.
To purchase tickets to Runway to Success, click HERE.

Morgan Carr

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