Student Success Stories

Aida Arias

Aida Arias came to GateWay Community College after a recommendation from an academic advisor. While Arias was closer to one of our sister colleges, she felt a special connection to GateWay.

“I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do and she really guided me through my whole path at GateWay,” Arias said. “The relationship that I created with my advisor was a really strong relationship and she really got me to get used to coming here to GateWay in a friendly way.”

Aida Arias

The advising staff contributed greatly to keeping Arias on the right path for graduation.

“I always wanted to take classes I really did not need,” she said. “I am so glad my advisor did not let me because it helped me stay on track and to finish in the time specified so I am able to complete my degree.”

Arias spent two-and-a-half years studying at GateWay where she recently graduated with an associate in arts degree with an emphasis in psychology. She transferred to Arizona State University to purse her bachelors in science and psychology. She hopes to participate in research studies.

“My ultimate goal is to go to the graduate school there which is a link between a masters and doctoral program and become a practicing psychologist,” Arias shared.

Another resource on campus Arias found useful was the career counseling tests. After taking one, she was able to determine what career path best fit with her personality. The Career Center at GateWay offers the tests as well as helps resume building and job searches.

Arias worked as a peer advocate on campus in the Student Success Center. While doing that, she worked with students who are at risk of failing in their classes. Arias walked students through the variety of free services they could receive on campus to help students succeed.

“My time at GateWay was a new experience for me; everyone was really wonderful here,” Arias said.

Cherie Morey - Accounting Student Transfer

Cherie Morey in Library at GateWayWhen Cherie Morey sat down to talk with her four children about the importance of a college degree, she realized, she wanted to complete hers in order to be a role model. Little did she know she would find a passion and interests she did not know she had. 

“Having been out of school for so long I was very nervous about returning to college but when I decided to just try it, I started with two courses just to see if I could do it,” Morey said. “I found it actually inspired me, unlocking a part of me that I had forgotten was there. If I can do it, anyone can do it.”

Morey worked full time and has a family to take care of. She found that GateWay Community College had the flexibility she needed to restart her education journey after a 20-year hiatus.

“I chose to study at GateWay because I went online and saw the different classes that were offered at the community colleges around the Valley and was really impressed with all the student reviews,” Morey said.

She spent two and a half years at GateWay to earn her associate degree in accounting.

“Initially I came before for Computer Information Systems and fell in love with the accounting program,” Morey said.

One of the accounting faculty members was really instrumental in helping her decide her area of interest.

“GateWay gave me so much toward my accounting degree,” said Morey. “It gave me professors who had real life experience.”

Not only did GateWay have professors with real life experience, but it also gave her an opportunity to earn some life experience herself. While at GateWay, Morey was able to do an internship through the VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) Program were she prepared taxes for the public. 

“The experience with the VITA program was really exciting at first it was very nerve racking, but the gratitude of the general public when they came in and I got to perform that public service it was very fulfilling and very exciting.”

Before starting at the college Morey knew she wanted to transfer to a university after her associate degree. She transferred to Grand Canyon University to continue on with her accounting education.

“I was very aware of the path I needed to take,” said Morey about having a successful transfer. “The professors here were very helpful in choosing my next courses so they would all transfer. They also connected me with transfer agents and enrollment agents at Grand Canyon University so it kept this constant link that created a perfect pathway for me to follow.”

Morey found that her plan to transfer to a university made it possible for her to save money and have a more flexible schedule as she adjusted to college life.

“My time at GateWay has been really fulfilling for me,” said Morey. “It has opened me up to new ideas. I have met new people. It has been very inspiring.”

Learn more about the Transfer Program at GateWay Community College. 

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