Pawtucket, Providence Students Report Positive Gains from RWU's Gateway to College Program

Pawtucket School Committee hears from students who are pursuing high school degrees while taking classes at RWU School of Continuing Studies

Roger Williams University Providence campus
Edward Fitzpatrick

PAWTUCKET, R.I. ­­– Students recently told the Pawtucket School Committee about the life-changing progress they’re making in the Gateway to College program, which gives them with an opportunity to finish earning their high school diplomas while taking college courses at the Roger Williams University School of Continuing Studies.

Based in Portland, Ore., Gateway to College operates at 40 colleges in 20 states. But this marks the first time Gateway to College has partnered with a university in Rhode Island and only the second time it has partnered with a private university.

In all, 33 students from Providence and Pawtucket are taking part in this program, which allows students who have left high school before graduation – or who are not on track to graduate with their peers – to earn high school diplomas while earning college credit.

One of the students from Pawtucket, Shawn McMurtery, told the Pawtucket School Committee about the difference the program is making in his life.

“My experience as a part of the Gateway family was one that has heavily shaped my life and who I am as an individual,” McMurtery said. “The staff and teachers were there when outside factors such as home stressors began to arise, and they helped me overcome challenges that have knocked me down in the past. The Gateway to College program has been more than just another program and has positively affected me in ways far beyond the classroom environment.”

Another Pawtucket student, Keara Gray, told the committee that teachers and staff helped her with academics and matters outside of school.

“I learned about resources and how to use skills to help when I face struggles in the future and may not have the Gateway family by my side,” she said. “I am carrying over my momentum from the first semester, and I am still passing all of my classes in this continuation semester. Getting such good grades and being an active participant in the program rewarded me with being the head of the advisory council and helping the future students of this program.”

RWU School of Continuing Studies Dean Jamie Scurry said, “I am very proud of the Gateway students, their dedication and participation in the program. To watch their transition from a disengaged high school student to an engaged and thriving college student is a wonderful reminder of the power and purpose of education – and what can be accomplished when high schools and colleges work together to provide pathways that meet the needs for all types of learners.”

Pawtucket Superintendent of Schools Patricia DiCenso said, “This is a program of hope and innovation. This partnership with Roger Williams University and the Pawtucket school district allows our students more options for success and more possibilities for their dreams to become reality.”