Every year, Horizonte Instruction and Training Center, an alternative high school in Salt Lake City awards college scholarships to dozens of graduates. And every year, many of those scholarships go unused. A new partnership between Horizonte and Salt Lake Community College helps grads stay the course and enroll in college, despite the obstacles.
It’s the last day of class for Horizonte bridge students at Salt Lake Community College. The group is gearing up for graduation next Tuesday by trying on the honorary medals they just received for completing the course. It introduces alternative high-school graduates who’ve been awarded a college scholarship to college rigors. But it’s not just about academics says Horizonte Principal Mindi Homdahl.
“How do I park? How do I find a classroom?” Homdahl says. “Who’s at the financial aid office, many of our students don’t have computers at home, don’t have internet access there. We are the alternative high school of Salt Lake City school district, so they are students who’ve not traditionally found success in academic settings.”
Most of the students here are the first in their family to go to college, and many are the first to graduate high school. 17-year-old Marisol Bartolo says she dropped out of high school at 16 before enrolling at Horizonte. Now she wants to become a Nurse. She says the greatest lesson she’s learned from the bridge class is to take full advantage of these kinds resources.
“There are so many things out there that you can use to help you in life, whether it’s for childcare or for college or healthcare,” Bartolo says. “Whatever it is, you need to take advantage of it. Use anything you possibly can.”
17-year-old Olivia Rose Sampson was in a similar position as Bartolo. She says she had no interest in school.
“Horizonte is the third high school that I’ve gone to,” Sampson says. “I was the kind of kid that just never went to school, never cared about my grades. I would go in the front door of the school and then I’d walk right out the back.”
But that’s all changed. The fear of failure is gone Sampson says. And all it took was learning how to navigation some unfamiliar terms and a college campus.