Meet Cristian Montañez: Student of the Year and Scholarship Awardee

Some people see obstacles as stumbling blocks … Cristian Montañez sees them as stepping stones.

A Connecticut State Colleges & Universities (CSCU) transfer student aspiring to a political science career, Cristian describes himself as a “lifelong working-class citizen.” He believes that we are most affected by the day-to-day hardships caused by systemic failures.

“Broken communities. Lack of access to proper health care. Mental illness, and employment inequities can no longer be overlooked,” he explained. “I chose to study political science as a way to better understand and address those issues.”

The $1,000 Melton McAvay Equity and Social Justice Fellowship he earned will be a huge help supporting him today and in the future. “I’ve always been in financial need,” said Cristian, who doesn’t own a car and lives on his $1,300 monthly disability check and $400 bi-weekly salary. Rent and utility costs leave him a “drastically small amount” for other expenses, like transportation and school supplies.

Cristian is determined to make the most of his time at Gateway. In addition to maintaining a 3.88 GPA, he was Student Government Vice President and helped with Student Activities’ special events. Cristian was voted Gateway’s 2024 Student of the Year.

After his Gateway graduation, Cristian will take advantage of the CT Guarantee partnership agreement that seamlessly tranfers credits to a four-year CSCU institution.

“After I earn my bachelor’s degree in politcal science, I want to work with the state legislature and the people they represent to better allocate resources to where they’re most needed.”

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