Tyrone Poole

Tyrone Poole’s father wasn’t part of his life. Instead, he found acceptance running with a gang, a path that led him to prison. While incarcerated, Tyrone became a father himself. “My greatest fear was that my son would hate me,” he recalls. “He was my motivation to do better.” After his release, Tyrone started driving a…

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Debbie Mele

As a teenager working in a local florist shop, Debbie Mele’s career seemed certain, but Gateway set her on a new path when she encountered a midlife “detour.” After high school, Debbie entered the Atlanta School of Floral Design. That led to a successful career, including 14 years at Myers Flower Shop and certification as an FTD…

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Ivanna Figol

Ivanna Figol graduated from Gateway in May, having earned an associate degree in Business Administration (Accounting Option), two certificates (Management and Accounting), and a 4.0 GPA. Those accomplishments would be remarkable for anyone, but for a Ukrainian immigrant speaking no English when she arrived in this country in 2012, they are extraordinary. Ivanna’s name was chosen…

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Ashlie Grasa

Ashlie Grasa graduated Gateway in 2016 with associate degrees in Natural Science and Mathematics and Engineering, and a certificate in Computer-Assisted Design. Her past journey was challenging, but the road ahead had more obstacles. When Ashlie was 4, a family tragedy sent her to live with a series of relatives in different states. She remained somewhat…

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Anthony Shepard

“Everyone’s ship comes in,” according to Anthony Shepard. “You just have to be on the pier when it does.” For Anthony, that day came whilehe was collecting unemployment. Anthony, 38, came to Connecticut from the Bronx in 2015. As a teenager, he was mechanically inclined and loved tinkering with machinery. He worked for commercial and industrial…

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Anthony Barroso

In 2011, Anthony Barroso shouldered a responsibility most 18-year-olds would find impossible when he assumed custody of his newborn son – now 9 – born a month before Anthony’s high school graduation. “It was a lot of responsibility,” he recalls. “College wasn’t on my mind. I had to concentrate on supporting my son.” To do that, he…

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Kimberly Alvarez

Kimberly Alvarez, 21, remembers a happy childhood in Ecuador before her father went to the United States to forge a better future for his family. While Kimberly’s high school friends embraced new life experiences, she stayed home nights to care for her 7-year-old brother while her mother worked. She still excelled in her studies and…

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