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Adam Clark comes full circle thanks to Gateway to College
Story by Abe Proctor. Photos by Vern Uyetake.
Adam Clark was a teenager on the wrong path. Having bounced around various high schools in the Gresham area, and after finally being expelled from Madison High School, he found himself at a crossroads.
At the age of 17, he found his way, thanks to PCC’s Gateway to College Program. Now 24, he has come full circle and earns a living providing tutoring and technical support for the program at the Southeast Center.
“I wouldn’t have gotten any education at all without Gateway to College,” Clark said.
After his expulsion, Clark decided that his best option was to earn his General Educational Development (GED) certificate. He enrolled in the YES Program (Youth Empowered to Succeed) — a branch of Gateway for students under 21 — and earned his GED after one term of study.
“It came as a slight surprise to me,” Clark said of his swift success. “I didn’t think of myself as a bright guy.”
GED in hand, Clark pondered his next move.
“With a GED, I knew I could get a job, but not a career,” he said. “I knew at that point that I wanted more from my life.”
A PCC resource specialist referred him to the mainstream Gateway. He was accepted into the program, received a scholarship and began his studies in 2005. The wayward kid who didn’t think much of his own abilities found that he was a thriving student.
“It’s a great program,” Clark said. “You get lots of support, lots of guidance.”
Then, with things going so well, Clark hit a snag during his second term. He ran afoul of the law, and faced incarceration. His bright future was on the verge of being snuffed out.
But, to his surprise and gratitude, his PCC mentors and instructors weren’t quite ready to give up on him. Letters of support started to pour in on his behalf. The judge in charge of his case, Clark recalled, stopped reading after about the 10th letter.
“Had I made the case on my own,” he said, “it wouldn’t have made a difference. Because of all the letters, the judge saw I was working toward something better and gave me another chance.”
The support from Gateway to College helped reduce Clark’s sentence to probation and a short time in jail. When he was released, the program welcomed him back with open arms. He returned to his studies with gusto, finished the program, and is now studying psychology at Portland State University, with a minor in Spanish. Along the way, Clark started working for the Gateway program.
He credits his success — and second chance — to the support he found in Gateway to College.“They knew I was a good person before I did,” he said.
For more information about Gateway to College and other alternative high school programs, visit www.pcc.edu/prep.