Meet Morgan Jensen: From Graduate to Team Member

GCCA employee and alum wears graduation cap and gown while holding a cat

We love a great success story–especially when it means our students return to us here at Gateway College and Career Academy. Morgan Jensen is not only a thriving graduate, but we are also lucky to call her a member of the Academic Support team at GCCA. We asked Morgan to tell us a bit about her experience as a student and her role as an employee. Read on to find out how a diploma from GCCA set Morgan on a path to giving back to students just like her and the unique goal she plans to achieve!

When and why did you attend Gateway?

I attended between the ages of 17 and 19. I arrived with an illegitimate transcript and Gateway was the first and only school that I completed any credits with.

What is your favorite memory as a Gateway student?

Aside from skating on campus with some other students (totally against the rules now… and then, too), I really enjoyed seeing the artists in my class get to shine when there were poster board projects.

Who was your favorite teacher and why?

Miguel Contreras, or Mr. Miguel, as I called him, was teaching some of the guidance courses at that time. He ended up being my teacher and my counselor during my foundation semester. I had other great teachers in the years that followed, but from that initial semester, he became that trusted adult who would listen and be able to direct me to resources when life really went sideways. Even though his current role is no longer that of a counselor, I’ve still seen him reach out to students when they seem to need it most.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

Coming full circle in so many ways is uncanny at times but also fulfilling. My role didn’t exist here when I was a student and my obstacles seemed singular to me at the time. There were experiences, both academic and non-academic, that I didn’t know how to talk about or ask for what I needed until I got older and saw it in others. I spent a ton of time studying inefficiently or just putting up with behavior that wasn’t ok. One thing I really love is seeing how differently these students handle things compared to how my peers did. Not to generalize, and I liked most of my classmates, but today’s students seem more thoughtful and more compassionate. Getting to know them has been the highlight of my time here. Knowing better now doesn’t help the past, but being able to use it to cut through someone else’s struggle gives meaning to mine.

How do Gateway’s mission and vision align with your personal values?

School, the typical way of doing it, isn’t for everyone. It doesn’t determine intelligence or potential and it definitely wasn’t for me. Education on the other hand is for everyone and it’s up to the educators to create an environment that makes it accessible and empowers students. Gateway provided all of the tools I needed as a high school student. In my time as a tutor, I’ve watched as Gateway continues to support our students in reaching their goals. School can be hard and things always seem to get in the way, but learning in an environment that is truly supportive can make all the difference.

What else would you like us to know about YOU?

“And in 89 years she ate the whale because she said she would” -Shel Silverstein

Completing my associates at RCC this year was emotionally complicated and a long time coming since graduating from Gateway 9 years ago. It was my backup plan to another goal that is still on the horizon, but I am currently content with this newly achieved benchmark. One day I’ll be a licensed mortician, as I always planned to be.

About GCCA

Gateway College and Career Academy (formerly Gateway to College) is an early college public high school launched in 2004, as an answer to the growing number of students who were disconnected from their education and not on track to obtain their high school diplomas. Our highly qualified teaching and counseling staff supports and guides our students on their educational pathways, establishing a bond of trust and the motivation to make it to the finish line.

Riverside City College is an ideal partner, helping our students transition to college education via concurrent enrollment in GCCA and RCC, and giving access to all of the college’s resources and supports.You belong here!