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Tom Grady of Quest for Success talks one on one with and Golden Gate High School Students

NAPLES, Fla. (May 3, 2016) –Golden Gate High School students received a special visit from Collier County School Superintendent, Dr. Kamela Patton and Florida State Board of Education Secretary, Tom Grady.

Students participating in the Entrepreneurial Programs at Golden Gate High School were prepared to make their project presentations to their teacher, Ian Sharp, recently when they received a unscheduled visit instead. Tom Grady of Quest for Success, a Naples-based non-profit college preparatory organization, stopped by to introduce “Quest4” – a new educational initiative promoting the importance of graduating from college in four years.

Students, comprised of juniors and seniors, engaged in a candid conversation about their post-high school graduation plans. Admirably, there was a mix of students whose plans involved enlisting in the military to those moving on to college. Grady, equipped with college graduation stats, explained to students the financial value of graduating college in “four” – years.

“Telling a student that it is important to graduate in four years is not very persuasive,” said Grady. “Providing them with a vision is a far more effective tool. Imagine, by graduating on time, your reward was a shiny new sports car or $100,000 cash – now that is a far more compelling narrative,” he explained. “Through the new Quest4 initiative, we aim to challenge our students to sign a 4-year graduation pledge.” Details of Quest4 will be announced in May at Rick Scott’s Florida Education Summit in Orlando.

Students, including GGHS junior, Maria Cepero, responded with surprise to the shear number of college students who do not graduate college in four years as well as the amount of increased debt they incur. “If someone told kids this information before they got to college, I think more kids would want to graduate on time,” Cepero said.

“Certainly, we cannot predict the future for all students entering college,” said Grady. “But current data is a good barometer of graduation trends. If we could reach more students like you, we believe more students would graduate in four years.”
Also surprised by the data presentation, were Collier County High School administrators, Golden Gate High School Prinicipal, Dr. Tolbin Walcott, Executive Director of Secondary Programs, Dr. Leslie Ricciardelli, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction, Dr. Peggy Aune and Superintendent of Schools, Kamela Patton.

“When laid out in those terms, four is a very powerful number,” said Kamela Patton, Superintendent of Schools. “It is important to reach each and every student, beginning at the elementary level, and give them the foundation they need to build a solid college foundation,” she said. “Wow, four is a powerful number in this context,” she continued.

Quest is a community-based organization providing highly personalized and effective methods for students to access and pay for most college. Quest began with 10 students in 1993 and currently serves over 340 diverse students from Collier County public and private schools. Quest’s mission is to foster economic freedom through education by empowering high school students to reach their highest career potentials through lifelong learning. For more information about Quest, call 239-403-7174 or visit