Success Story

Success Story - 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! "