Success Story - Student Matthew Gonzalez Shares Graduation Message of Hope

Student Matthew Gonzalez Shares Graduation Message of Hope

Shared by his teacher Cherie McNaulty at Glenn Dyer in Alameda County

"Hi, everybody. You know I failed third grade when I was a kid. The teacher told me that I was dyslexic. That carried with me for a long time growing up. I always thought I wasn’t smart or not smart enough. My thinking like this caused me to miss a lot of opportunities in life. I dropped out of high school in the 9th grade. I was getting D’s and F’s, so I just quit. I’ve been in and out of jail ever since. 

I never really tried to do something different because I was scared people would see how stupid I was. Then I got involved in this federal case and “Wow!” I’m looking at some time. I made a choice: It’s time to do something different and uses this time to do some good for myself. 

I didn’t know where to start, so I started working out. I figured I got to start somewhere. Then this new Five Keys company took over the jails offering substance abuse, anger management, parenting classes, and even a chance at a high school diploma. I thought to myself, “Man, it’s good; I got time! I will give it my best shot anyway.” 

Then we started out with this little test. I knew a little bit, but I was lost on a lot of it, so I just didn’t answer what I didn’t know. After that, the teacher started me pretty low. I didn’t let that bother me; I just kept pushin’

After I finished a packet, I was like, “Wow! That wasn’t so bad.” I asked the teacher, “How much credit was that?” She was like, “One credit.” “One credit, and how many do I need?” She says, “Well, that depends on your transcripts, but it takes 180 altogether.” 

I kind of got discouraged. Then my transcripts came back and I needed a whole lot of credits. Man, I really got discouraged then! I thought, “Man, forget this!” I was ready to quit again. I went back to the cell and thought about it. I thought and said to myself, “Man, if you don’t do this, you will keep failing in life and never have a chance at a good one.” I got up the next morning and said, “I ain’t no punk; I can do this!” 

It’s funny, too, ‘cause my teacher really laid it out for me with those packets. She built me up from the bottom through them. As I started to get through them, my understanding of what I had to do in the next one became a lot easier. I was doing it all, too; learning math, how to write a paragraph and then an essay. It came really quick.

I started to get juiced ‘cause I wasn’t that dyslexic, stupid person anymore. I could do this stuff! "