Leeway honors 11 graduates

After experiencing the tragic loss of her husband, there was one thing that kept Blanca Loza motivated to carry on and chase her dreams: the Project Leeway program at Lee College.

Eleven students graduated this summer from the Lee College Project Leeway program. Pictured from left, bottom row: Teresa Aguirre, Ana Garcia, Diana Corona, Brandy Alfred, Latahja Braxton, Brenda Culton and Mary Hebert. Top row: Blanca Loza, Deanisha Fontenelle and LaKiarra Collins. Not pictured: Elizabeth Estrada.

“It kept me from slipping into depression and gave me a reason to get out of bed every day,” said Loza, one of 11 Project Leeway graduates recognized this summer for successfully completing the federally funded program, which assists low-income adults in pursuing a college education by providing help with the cost of tuition, textbooks, childcare and transportation, among other resources.

After applying and being accepted, Project Leeway students earn college credit while completing a five-week session that refreshes their reading, writing, math, social and study skills. They also explore 23 technical career fields they can enter through Lee College degree and certificate programs, ending the session fully registered and prepared for the next semester of classes.

“Lee College expects the best from its students, and all I wanted from them was their best,” Kewana Davis, counselor for Project Leeway, said of the Class of Summer 2015. “Anything they said they couldn’t do — that’s what we pushed them to try. We wanted to show them that whatever challenge they have, they can overcome. You have to learn to adjust and adapt; your attitude makes the difference.”

Graduate Mary Hebert counted the bond that she developed with her Project Leeway classmates among the best things she would take away from the program. The process of becoming comfortable and confident enough to connect with her peers was a valuable learning experience in itself, she said.

“It showed us that it’s never too late to make or accept new changes in your life,” Hebert said.

Pres. Dr. Dennis Brown brought a similar message to the graduates at their Aug. 6 awards ceremony.

“There are hundreds just like you who need to be where you are today,” Brown said. “However you got here, you’re here and you’ve done something important in your life. Promise me that you will not give up. Persevere, persist and finish what you started.”

For more information about the Project Leeway program at Lee College, contact Davis at 281.425.6559 or kdavis@lee.edu.