New initiative helps people who dropped out of high school receive diploma, further education

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- When you meet Alissa Gil-Doering, you’ll soon learn music is her passion.

“I want to run my own radio station,” Gil-Doering said. “I want to broadcast underground artists who aren't really visible to the public and put them on.”

To get there, she is now a part of the Middle College Program at MCC – Penn Valley.

“We’ve created a pipe line for them that is seamless so when they started here today -- this morning -- we started with the end in mind,” MCC – Penn Valley President Dr. Tyjaun Lee said.  

It’s a new partnership between Metropolitan Community College, KCPS and The Full Employment Council.

"It is really about how do we create citizens who can go back into the workforce to help be the engine of the society,” Lee said.

Through courses, mentoring, and skill development, the program provides a pathway for people who dropped out of high school to receive their high school diplomas and later go on to earn either a two-year degree or be part of a technical program.

“They may not have dropped out of our school district, but they did drop out of school and they live here within the Kansas City Public Schools boundaries, so we have reached out to those students,” KCPS Extended Learning Opportunities Director Christy Harrison said.

Gil-Doering, who dropped out when she was sophomore, said she’s ready for this experience.

“I don't think without this program, I'd be able to have the opportunities because I'm going to be taking college classes here,” Gil-Doering said. “And I'm going to get started on my career already and I haven't even graduated yet.”

Gil-Doering said she’s not just doing it for herself, but her 2-month-old son.

“When I found out I was going to have him, a lot of things changed for me. I knew that I had to get my life together to do things differently, not just for myself but for him,” she said.

Harrison said the students won't be left hanging when they complete the program.

“We will continue to monitor and work with those students for an additional year after that so that first year they're in that program, we'll work with those students to make sure they're successful,” Harrison said.

The program hopes to help 30 students this year.

For more information on the program, click here.


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