On May 7, I was honored to attend the Bridges to Success graduation at Roosevelt High School to celebrate 80 students who achieved their high school equivalency diplomas. Since it was my first time at this event I didn’t know what to expect, but rest assured, it was truly inspiring. 

Bridges to Success is a partnership between Des Moines Area Community College and United Way of Central Iowa to provide innovative strategies and supportive coaching to help central Iowans on a path to financial stability.  

An Iowa high school graduate, throughout their lifetime, earns an average of $700,000 more than a high school dropout. (National Center for Education Statistics; 2016)

In one year, Bridges to Success has enrolled more than 1,000 students, and is on its way to helping 10,000 central Iowa adults achieve their equivalency diplomas.

The graduation honored students from all walks of life, along with their family and friends. All were excited to be a part of something amazing. I was extremely proud of the honorary student speakers who shared their stories of obstacles and triumph. The stories painted a picture of the everyday struggles our students face, and the adversity they go through. But most importantly, these stories highlighted the ability everyone has if given the chance and opportunity in life: to accomplish something greater than oneself.

Ciara Ladroma, a career coach with the Bridges to Success program, shared this experience: 

On May 7, we took part in a momentous event that so many of our students had once thought unachievable: the moment they walked across the stage to receive their high school diploma. Families and friends cheered and hollered, some loved ones even shed tears as this ceremony was not merely a celebration of their hard work, but affirmation that they have the drive and ambition to achieve and succeed. We rejoice with our graduates, encourage our current students, and look forward to the impact they will have in our community.

The graduation was a culmination of the hard work and dedication our students put forth throughout their Bridges to Success journey. The future is bright for all. View photos from the event.

This past year with the Bridges to Success program has meant a lot. We are seeing community-wide, systemic changes to our approach with non-credit, non-traditional adult learners. And I must say, the change is working -- for the better.

More and more students are coming forward to express a desire to be a part of the Bridges to Success program, which has been a testament to the work that’s been put in to create this program. My position as the program manager is just a piece of the puzzle. It’s been great working with DMACC, and many other community partners to bring a program like Bridges to Success to the community.

I am very excited for what the future holds with this program -- and for Bridges to Success to become a central Iowa institution. Thank you for partnering with us. 

Visit the Bridges to Success page to learn how this program changes central Iowans' lives: 

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TAGS: Income

Mak Sućeska

About The Author: Mak Sućeska

Mak Sućeska is the Bridges to Success program manager at United Way of Central Iowa.