Gateway Degree Leads to Realization of Dreams for Human Service Associate Graduate Laura Valeriano | Sponsored
At Gateway Technical College, if you can dream it, you can make it happen.
That’s what Laura Valeriano says. Because in his case, it’s true.
Laura dreamed of a better future, and Gateway helped make it a reality by earning her associate’s degree in human service and entering a career field – and a future – that she looks forward to every day.
“Gateway has helped me have a better life,” says Laura. “I have a better job and I can help my family, and that has helped change my outlook on life. I’m looking forward to my future.
Laura works as a service coordinator at a residential facility in the area, helping seniors, low-income people and people with disabilities. She helps them find resources that will enable them to live independently, as well as manage their finances.
She uses her Gateway training and experiences to benefit her clients every day, powered by instructors who have taught her real-world skills.
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“Our instructors told us the truth on the ground – we had lessons and lectures, but they also took the time to tell you about real experiences,” she said. “They were telling us, ‘This is what you will experience in your career’ and they were right. There are times when I handle a situation and remember what our instructors told us about it and how to handle it. It helped me in my career.
Laura’s dream of getting a degree and a career is firmly anchored at Gateway, even before she started working on her associate’s degree. She started in college taking courses in the ELL program to learn English and the GED program to earn a recognized high school diploma in the United States to replace the one she earned in another country.
After that, college staff members encouraged her to continue her education and achieve her career goals. “I thought to myself, why not? I liked Gateway, it was affordable, I was happy with the ELL program, I wanted a career and decided to go for it.
“I had decided that, financially, I didn’t want to be where we were for the rest of my life. And I didn’t want that for my kids either. My ambition, then, was to go to university.
The Human Service Associate program was a natural fit because of the care Laura provided for one of her children with special needs.
“I started this program for my child. The more I tried to help him integrate into society, the more I began to understand disabilities. I said I already knew some of the basics and if I can help her, why can’t I help others?
“I like the fact that I can help people who are in difficulty. When people start to struggle too much, they start to believe it’s OK. And it’s not,” Laura said.
“When they have a crisis, they don’t know where to turn for help, and that’s where I’m there, to help them. I can connect them to the resources they need.
“I really like what I do.”
The support Gateway provides to its students is a foundation of the college, Laura said.
“I was a mother of two at the time and the flexibility of the classes and the support really helped me. Honestly, there was a time when I wasn’t sure I could – but Gateway encouraged me to stay, and I’m glad I did.
Laura has also been aided by two Gateway Technical College Foundation scholarships, the Gateway Centennial Scholarship and the Atty. Joseph Jr. and Kathy Madrigrano Scholarship. A video of Laura speaking at a Foundation event is available at https://bit.ly/LauraValeriano.