Act saves student DREAMs
The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act is flourishing for students enrolled in Middle College High School (MCHS) and the Gateway to College program.
MCHS math teacher Sanet Hipolito said the act is ensuring that many students coming to Contra Costa College can receive an education.
Located on the first floor of the Applied Arts Building, MCHS and the Gateway program are the two driving institutions for high school students located at CCC, she said.
Hipolito said helping minority students who are said to be "at risk" earn their high school diploma, while simultaneously gaining college credit toward an associate degree or certificate, can change lives.
Since the DREAM Act was passed in October 2013, and with the passing and establishment of Senate Bill (SB) 150, students can easily be found around campus "getting back on track," she said.
Gateway to College student Monique Jones said, "It was really scary at first. They (administration) were really kicking people out if you weren't at least trying to be tutored or using the resources around you."
Jones is a Gateway student and has been enrolled in the program since August.
She said the transitioning period was very hard because the entire program expected students to both understand college classes and succeed in courses.
"However, I understand now they (teachers) just want you to try your very best," she said. "As long as I finish the entire program, they (Gateway) will help me with grants and getting enrolled in other schools after this."
SB 150 went into effect this past January but both Hipolito and Jones were unaware that the DREAM Act was in effect.
"I've only been a faculty member at MCHS for three years," Hipolito said. "But I know for a fact that 75 fortunate students are selected in attending MCHS and the Gateway program each year."
Every year administrators submit requests to the West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD) to "recruit" students who are academically struggling in high school, she said.
Hipolito said since she has been at CCC she has seen about 300 applications submitted from families seeking a better education for their children.
"It is a special opportunity to attend here because students can earn an associate degree while completing high school," she said. "What more could any challenged student ask for?"
She said that "students can kill two birds with one stone" and even though they are technically high school students, they are treated as college scholars.
"I'm taking college classes right now and getting reliable resources from the DREAM Act," 11th grader Dejanai Chatman said. "The probation period may be daunting but it can only improve our attitudes towards college in a positive direction."
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