Always keep moving forward. Embrace the road that chooses you. This journey is lifelong.
These are some of the encouraging sentiments made while Chemeketa’s TRiO and College Completion Program (CCP) recognized more than 50 students at the End of Year Banquet June 2.
Guests celebrated the accomplishments of these students, ranging from outstanding GPAs (3.5 or higher), degree completion and attainment of the prestigious Ford Family Scholarship.
And all against incredible odds.
Like Vanessa Galdero, recipient of CCP’s Persistence Award, who started as an insecure ESOL student determined to successfully balance college and family. When she was diagnosed with cancer winter term, she didn’t let her prognosis slow her down. College resources like CCP and the Writing and Tutoring centers gave her the support she needed to focus on school while receiving chemotherapy treatments. She plans to transfer to Western Oregon University in the fall of 2017 to become a Spanish instructor.
And Joey Fugate Jr., recipient of TRiO’s Persistence Award, who overcame hardships throughout his life and credits Chemeketa for helping him achieve a dream he once considered impossible. From placement in special education courses as a child, to coming back to school as an adult with a family, Joey had to overcome learning and personal obstacles and reframe his belief he wasn’t good enough for college. He’ll graduate June 14 having completed Chemeketa’s highest level of math and acing calculus. Joey transfers to Oregon State’s Engineering Program this fall.
“Despite all the people who told me I was too dumb to make it, the biggest challenge I had to overcome was the doubt I placed on myself,” he said.
Guest speakers included former Chemeketa employee Mark Duyck and two TRiO alumni who received recognition for their contributions to their communities.
Joel Gisbert, who was in a gang and living with drug dealers before coming to Chemeketa, completed his Master’s in Social Work at Portland State University and now works with at-risk youth facing challenges similar to his own.
And community organizer Scott Salazar who completed his Master’s in International Business at Dutch University in the Netherlands and has returned to Salem to start his own company and give back to his hometown.
“People like us to do make it,” Joel told the audience. “And we’ve got a story to tell.”