Student Success Story: Juan Munoz Polvo

An assignment as a student worker in Gateway’s Career Services Department helps Juan Munoz Polvo pay his bills while he pursues his dream career: robotic engineering.

(January 2023) A chance encounter can lead to BIG change – just ask Gateway student Juan Munoz Polvo.

Juan’s parents came to the U.S. from Mexico when he was a year old. They settled in New Haven and had three more children. Juan didn’t qualify for the financial aid he desperately needed to attend college after he completed high school.

One day when Juan was 19 and waiting on a to-go food order, he struck up a conversation with a Yale law student … and his life changed forever.

Diego Matamoros was studying immigration law at Yale. He offered his help. “I was discouraged because I couldn’t afford college,” Juan said. “Diego was my angel! It took two years, but I was able to apply for a visa, and then a green card.”

That allowed Juan to enter Gateway in 2022 and apply for financial aid. A Mechanical Engineering major, he’s currently taking five classes. Set to graduate in May 2024, he plans to transfer to Central Connecticut State University and study to become a robotic engineer.

He also is studying to become a U.S. citizen.

Juan’s journey hasn’t been easy. Starting college during a pandemic was hard, especially for this 26-year-old single dad who has custody of his 6-year-old daughter, Coraline. “I struggled and needed someone to talk to, but I always put my own needs last.”

Juan found support from a variety of the wraparound services Gateway Community College offers. One big source was the college’s Counseling & Wellness Center and its licensed mental health professionals. A key program he found especially helpful was the Family Economic Security Program (FESP). FESP offers academic, career, financial, and personal support.

The Wellness Center’s staff also helped him secure a paid student worker position in Gateway’s Career Services Department. Today, he helps with administrative tasks and special events.

He also enrolled in math and English tutoring via the Center for Educational Services and received coaching from the Writing Center.

“What does college mean to me? Gateway has opened my mind and changed my life.”

Please help Gateway students like Juan. Donate to the Gateway Community College Foundation. Donors like you provide scholarships, fellowships, technology, and other financial support to help hardworking students achieve their educational and career goals. Large or small, every gift makes a difference!

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