In 2011, Gateway student Troy McDonald says he was sitting on his couch, eating sloppy Joes and watching TV – with no future in sight.
His is a life story of hardship, being bullied and going to grocery stores intending to pick out the best coffee – not for its flavor, but the shape of its container and ability to hold coins he would collect during bouts of homelessness.
He then came to a conclusion: Troy was determined not to “be a statistic” he says. He would strive to obtain an education and change his life. Today, three years later, through the help of Gateway Technical College and a fiery drive to succeed, Troy hosts three of his own multi-media productions airing on local cable channels as well as the college’s own WGTD radio station.
“My story would not have happened without Gateway Technical College,” says Troy. “It gave me the freedom to go out and explore all these different avenues, to be able to have the time to go to start those different programs and host the ‘Troy Show.’”
After earning his Adult GED at the college, he enrolled and began volunteering at the Gateway Radio Reading Service, a reading service for the print handicapped. He quickly was asked to host his own show at age 19, The Troy Show, an interview-format production podcasted at WGTD. From there, his career took off as he continued to become more adept at hosting radio and cable access shows and was lauded by professionals in the field. Today, he produces and hosts three of his own shows in two formats, including an area teen issues show and a professional wrestling show – both on area cable stations – and weekend community issues show aired on WGTD.
While he benefited from encouragement in radio, Troy says his current Gateway program of Marketing helped him greatly to succeed.
“I thought Marketing might be a good fit for me, but I didn’t realize initially how good of a fit,” he says. “It turned out to be the absolute, 100 percent best thing for me.
“I have the gift of talking, but I needed to know how to sell that product, how to create a niche for myself and to stand out in the marketplace. I learned all those skills here at Gateway.”
Troy says another benefit of his Gateway education is the encouragement by -- and willingness of -- staff to provide the resources and flexibility to help students succeed in their chosen area of study.
“I wasn’t always the chosen one, I wasn’t always the best, but I worked hard to be one of the best,” he says. “Gateway provides you the tools and opportunity to do your best. I honestly believe that.”
Troy says Gateway’s rigorous studies prepared him well for his career and life. He plans to graduate in Fall 2014 with a Marketing degree and continue his broadcast career.
“I wake up every day saying I am going to conquer it this day. This is what Gateway has allowed me to do, through its opportunities and a really rigorous education.
“From the moment I stepped through the doors of Gateway, I got the lesson that you create your life and you make your life and that is the impact that Gateway has had on me. I’ve learned here that it doesn’t matter if it’s Yale, or Harvard or Gateway, you can make an impact. Gateway was the best fit for me to make that impact in myself and the world around me.”