Student Success Stories

Jordan Woodruff - Psycology Student Transfer

Jordan Woodruff came to GateWay Community College to give college a second try.

He had started out as many high school graduates do; Jordan went from high school right into a university.

Jordan Woodruff

“To come back to a junior college and not try to go right to a university seemed like the right idea,” Woodruff said. “Without focus in school I ended up losing a $40,000 scholarship and a lot of respect from my family.”

Woodruff left ASU and the education world for five years before coming to GateWay. One day he had a realization that he was working at a job that was taking him nowhere and he needed to get his life on track.

“I guess it was the kick in the pants from my family and the kick in the pants from myself realize that I am 22 and I need to get going,“ Woodruff said.

He decided he needed to make his parents proud and went back to school. When he started back he realized that he still had a passion for psychology and a desire to be in school.

“GateWay helped me remember what I wanted to do,” he shared.

Woodruff has been studying for his associate degree in Liberal Arts with a focus in Psychology. He plans to continue on with psychology at ASU with plans to further his education on through a Ph.D. He hopes to create a more understanding bridge between families and mental health at a younger age. He wants to create a good relationship between the patients and mental health care.

“GateWay made me possible for me to pursue my degree by being accessible to anyone,” he said. “It is a beautiful campus, I loved being here and loved the faculty. Everyone understood that I was a continuing student that I hadn’t probably picked up a book in four years.”

Woodruff spent three years at GateWay to achieve his associate degree. While going to school he was able to participate in many work-study opportunities on campus.

Juan Contreras - Social Work Student Transfer

Juan Contreras grew up without someone to guide him on his educational goals, so he hopes he can help others to make the right decisions.

Juan Contreras

“Coming to GateWay Community College was really hard for me because of my past,” said Contreras. “Growing up in west Phoenix, I grew up around a lot of youth who needed some kind of mentoring.”

While at GateWay he studied social work and transferred to Arizona State University. At ASU, Contreras will continue studying social work.

“Growing up in that situation I thought we never had mentors around us,” shared Contreras. “So for me to pay it forward in the future I thought it would be the best way, for me to do social work and for me to pay it forward and help youth out, be there for youth and get them out of the environment that leads youth into the wrong direction.”

Contreras was at GateWay for two years.

“I took the classes I needed, I met with an advisor and the advisors here at GateWay led me in the right path and they did not let me take classes I did not need,” he stated.

After meeting with advisors and instructors, Contreras decided social work was the career path for him. He originally had come to GateWay planning to study air conditioning.

“I chose to study at GateWay because GateWay has small classrooms that a friend had told me about,” shared Contreras. He felt the small classes would help him ease into his college career.

During his time at GateWay, Contreras worked as a peer mentor and worked with the LIFT program. While working with LIFT, he worked with students as they transitioned from high school into college. Also, Contreras worked as a tutor in the Learning Center on campus.

“I started here at GateWay and my first time I did math I failed math, but going to the Learning Center helped me get an A and so everybody saw the progress I had made,” Contreras said. “They asked me to help tutor math at the Learning Center so I did, I enjoyed it and I loved.”

Contreras was chosen to speak at the May 2014 commencement ceremony.

“It was something I never imagined that I would be doing, but as you get involved on campus, and getting to know people a lot of people on campus, you get to pay it forward because of all the hard work you do and it was unimaginable,” he said.

Contreras feels that the staff and processes set up at GateWay provided the groundwork that helped him succeed in his pursuit.

“GateWay has made my journey to get my degree so perfect,” Contreras said. “The foundation was laid out, every semester was perfect. They were actually a really helping hand. If it wasn’t for GateWay I don’t think I would have had a degree or going to ASU.”

Having graduated with an Associate Degree, Contreras is now the first in his family to obtain a college degree. He is now pursuing a bachelor’s degree at Arizona State University. 


Phone: (602) 286-8000, option 4
Building: South Building
Room: SO1134