Jessica A. Zambrano is the epitome of a leader in the making. At the age of 16, Jessica was making decisions typical of students twice her age. She took on the role of caregiver to her younger siblings, picked up two jobs and tried to stay in high school through Independent Studies. When two jobs couldn’t make ends meet, she stopped high school and got a third job. By the time she was 17, she was out of school, working three jobs, and was lucky to get two hours of sleep a night. When life only got worse, she took it as an opportunity to rethink her life plan and recommit herself to her education, ultimately because she knew she was a born leader that could help others given her life experience.
Jessica graduated from Gateway to College Academy, a Santa Rosa Junior College “Middle College High School” at the Petaluma campus, while simultaneously enrolled in college classes and working on campus in various capacities. At every opportunity she has raised the bar of excellence, from her incomparable work ethic to the creative initiatives she has implemented at SRJC Petaluma and the Gateway to College Academy that have improved young adult experiences. She has been described as a guide, an advocate, and will undoubtedly be a Sonoma County mover-and-shaker in years to come. With a resilient attitude and relentless spirit, Jessica has used her struggles to develop strength for her future. The community members of Sonoma County will one day thank Jessica A. Zambrano for her tremendous efforts and accomplishments that will increase equity and improve the overall quality of life for our future generations.
On May 26, 2016, twenty-five students crossed the stage in Carole L. Ellis Auditorium to receive their high school diplomas, an accomplishment that each of them earned through intense effort, persistence, and relentless hope. One of the students donning a blue a cap and gown was William Dauphinais.
Will came to Gateway to College in the spring of 2014 when he was 17 years old. Previous to GtC, Will lived in Pennsylvania and was homeschooled for his junior year. Unfortunately, due to a glitch in state education policy, Will didn't receive any credit for an entire year of coursework, and thus became a credit-deficient student and was placed into an alternative high school when his family relocated to California. Apprehensive and fairly skeptical from hearing about the "community" aspects of GtC, Will took a leap of faith and left San Antonio High School to begin Gateway to College, only to find that it would be the community network of support offered at GtC and SRJC Petaluma to be key to his success. In the four semesters Will has been in GtC, he has missed only three days of class and has earned a 3.1 GPA for all college coursework. After graduating this semester, Will plans to attend the Santa Rosa campus so that he can pursue a certificate in Culinary Arts and work towards becoming a professional chef and restaurant owner. Presently, in addition to school, Will works on a farm in construction/deconstruction and in animal husbandry; he also enjoys playing the drums and cooking meals for his GtC colleagues. Will said he wants the SRJC Petaluma community to know that, "Although we may be rowdy at times, we've had some challenging life experiences. Please don't judge us by where we are in our journey, we depend on you to help show us the way."