At the age of 15, Tracy Gorham found herself in the car with a Utah social worker, who asked her where she wanted to go after being emancipated from a foster care facility.
“They drop me off in the middle of Salt Lake City and there I sleep on the streets,” she said. “I faced things no one should ever face. Back then there was no support mechanisms for homeless teenagers.”
Her grandfather was able to find her and she found a new home with him in Louisiana.
“I really felt a community and I was supported and it was beautiful,” she said.
Gorham was the keynote speaker during the Alvin Community College Student Services retreat on March 22. She also spoke to a separate group of students about dealing with adversity in the worst circumstances.
Despite the problems with her upbringing, Gorham would go on to become an entrepreneur.
She is currently the Founder and CEO of ConexED, a tech company whose mission is to bridge the gap between college students and critical services such as advising, tutoring, and office hours. The platform has served 10 million students.
“Student success is everyone’s success,” Gorham said.
Growing up in Utah was far from ideal for Gorham. When she was 13, she found herself being escorted from her middle school classroom, into a police car, out of the city she grew up in, and into foster care.
“The officers told me I was a bad kid and my parents didn’t want me anymore,” said Gorham.
She spent the next few years living in a small room with three other foster children before she was emancipated by the courts.
After living with her grandfather, Gorham said she returned to Salt Lake City and began taking courses at a community college. Gorham was able to get her education on track with the help of Salt Lake Community College Counselor, Cindy Clark.
“Without Cindy Clark, I wouldn’t be here talking with you today,” said Gorham. “It sparked me into the right direction.”
Gorham said it was education that helped her improve her life and lead her on the path to success. It inspired her to help other students to find a future through education.
“That’s when I began thriving,” said Gorham.
Connecting with college staff members such as advisors and counselors is a necessity to help students earn their education and achieve their career goals.
“I’m still growing,” she said. “Those really small interactions cascaded into this brilliant, professional CEO that you see today. You are that beginning spark. The human connection does matter.”