Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A student success story

Grossmont College student Danny McKay
(Every so often, we will profile a student who exemplifies success. Here's one student's story.)

Danny McKay
From addict to honor student
           The turning point for Danny McKay came the day he finally paid off the bills from an auto accident that he’d caused while driving drunk. He knew he needed to get an education, but the thought of taking college classes terrified him.
                “I didn’t know if I could walk into school and do well,” McKay said. “Coming to school was scary to me.”
                McKay, a Santee resident, had joined the Air Force after graduating from high school. But the drug and alcohol addictions that had plagued him in high school continued to haunt him, culminating in a near-fatal crash in which he was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol. After he was honorably discharged from the Air Force, McKay worked to overcome his addictions.
                McKay said he found a warm reception after he enrolled at Grossmont College, along with help getting the financial aid he needed to attend college.
                “Because of the people and programs here, I was able to dive in. People didn’t judge me,” he said. “If it wasn’t for the professors and the available funds, I wouldn’t have been able to do it.”
                McKay now has a 3.95 grade point average and is a member of Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society. He presented honors papers at the University of California at Irvine and Stanford University on the manifestation of bipolar disorder after brain trauma.  
                He plans to apply to the University of California at Los Angeles, UC Berkeley and Stanford after he finishes at Grossmont in spring 2012. McKay said he’d like to go to medical school and become a psychiatrist.
                “Life is overall excellent compared to how my life was,” he said. “I plan on going as far as possible.”