Danny McKay, Grossmont College
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 was selected as Grossmont College’s valedictorian for 2012 and is now attending Stanford University. In his commencement speech, McKay thanked everyone who had helped him turn his life around.
“It is a direct result of the supportive people on this campus – the students, student leaders, professors, counselors, and staff – that I now have a new purpose, a new life,” McKay said. “Here at Grossmont, our motto is Changing Lives Through Education, something I can humbly affirm and will represent for the rest of my life.”