Success Stories

Mike’s Story

I started making poor choices when I was young and the same mind set carried on through my young adult years. Although many of my poor decisions were compounded by alcohol abuse I always felt I had ultimate control over my actions. After being jobless for several years and finding it harder and harder to become gainfully employed.


I reached out to the Gateway program at Red Rocks. I never thought I could go to college; I didn’t even make it through high school. I learned quickly that high school and higher education were completely different entities. Gateway at Red Rocks started me off slow and helped me get into the frame of mind that I would need to be successful in whatever I chose to do.

By completing the program and taking it slow I was not overwhelmed. I did not get discouraged and I knew that I could go to school and achieve something my family and I could be proud of. am now employed full time at Red Rocks and more possibilities are available to me.

My daughter and son now have the same opportunities’ that were possible for  me because the benefits that are offered to me through my employment at Red Rocks. All of this would never be possible if I would have never reached out and took a chance on myself and the Gateway Program at Red Rocks. 


Michael L. Mendez

Rita's Story

Phi Theta Kappa member Rita Erickson is proof that one can find success and second chances through school.  A rough childhood and series of poor choices were leading her down the wrong path, but Erickson found support and camaraderie through RRCC’s Gateway program.

She is now a hard-working student and dedicated mom, described by faculty as upbeat, enthusiastic, and very positive. Erickson said, “Building a better me and inspiring others to do the same has been my biggest accomplishment since attending school.”

Erickson is an employee in the Foundation Office at Red Rocks Community College.  After completing her first degree, an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in business management, she decided to pursue a second degree, an AAS in programming specialist. She is currently utilizing the 3:1 program at Regis University. There she plans to finish a Bachelor’s Degree in computer information systems and is considering pursuing a master’s degree at Regis. When not studying or working, Erickson enjoys spending time with her daughter and reading.


Janelle’s Story

I started in the right direction being a nurse. Then I was introduced to the wonderful, beautiful chaotic world of dope. All this beautiful chaos landed me in DOC. How in the world did I get here? Thank you, Jesus, you just saved my life. Everything was stripped from me my children, my career, and my life. I had three in half years to reflect on where I wanted my life to go.

After three in half years of DOC education, I was told about The College Gateway Program. I thought it was worth a try considering I had my nursing license revoked. I better figure out what I want to be now that I have to grow up. I was a little nervous about making the call to Angelina but I stepped out in faith. I came into the Gateway office I and met with Angelina. I was warmly welcomed and instantly accepted. I left the interview with a great sense of hope and eager to start my new journey.


Since the beginning of this journey I have graduated from The College Gateway Program and currently work as a work study for the Gateway office. I have my 13 year old daughter back in my life, when five years ago it seemed an impossible task. I’m working towards an Associate of Arts leading to a Bachelor of Arts degree. I’m also
currently studying to retake the nursing board’s exam, due to my life changes I’m currently able to reapply and have my nursing license reinstated.

I have a long road ahead of me and I am looking forward to the journey. Everything is a learning experience I learn from the good and the challenging. I couldn’t have gotten this far without the superb support of Cathy, Angelina, and Jeff.

To get through this life one has to be tough, persevere, have compassion, laugh a lot, and love always….  


"Courage, love, friendship, compassion, and empathy lift us above the simple beast and define humanity."

- The Book of Counted Sorrows