Brenda Raygoza

Without the Promise, I don’t think I would have had the opportunity to go to college.

Promise helps graduate reach career heights she didn’t even realize should could reach

College wasn’t initially on the radar for Brenda Raygoza.

She says she didn’t have the interest in – and felt she wouldn’t have the finances to go to – college, so it was a non-starter issue for her.

Then she learned about the Promise program.

Encouraged by Promise staff members and a scholarship that would pay for most of her expenses, Brenda put college fully into her future plans. She decided she would go to Gateway and earn the degree she was unsure she would ever have been able to.

“I knew if I didn’t have a scholarship, it would be a real struggle on my family’s finances,” says Brenda. “I felt that money was tight. I don’t know if I ever would have gone to college without the Promise program.”

Once she took that first step, Brenda quickly realized she wanted to follow in the footsteps of many of her family members: she wanted to become a medical assistant. The student who formerly was unsure whether she wanted or could afford college embraced it wholeheartedly and completed her degree with a 4.0 GPA.

“Many members of my family – cousins, siblings – have been in health care, and that’s what made me want to take that step,” says Brenda. “Most are medical assistants, so that’s why I chose that program.

“I like to help people, I always have. I realize it’s different with patient care, but I still will be able to do that in this career.”

Brenda says the scholarship certainly helped her to afford college, but the Promise program support helped her to succeed in college — namely, the encouragement from staff, who also connected her with college resources such as tutors and advising.

“It wasn’t easy,” says Brenda. “Like many students, the first semester was rough, but the Promise staff kept me on track, helped me to get myself together and encouraged me to succeed. 

“There were nights I struggled to get enough sleep, because I was studying. I had a part-time job but still worked many hours, but the Promise program gave me the resources to help me pass those classes.”

Brenda says the college prepared her well for her career, and  laid the foundation to continue her education by  obtaining a Nursing degree, if she chooses.

“The training in class helps us. The material is heavy, but we are learning above and beyond the basics. I also like the hands-on nature of the classes. I do well by learning and then practicing it, which is what we do.

“In addition to the classes, I also like the diversity of the college. Everyone has their own educational path. Some are employed, some have families, different backgrounds. There are opportunities at Gateway for everyone, not just one person.”

And part of that opportunity for Brenda was the Promise program.

“Without the Promise,” says Brenda, “I don’t think I would have had the opportunity to go to college.”