Mural reminds students to "reach for the stars" at Gateway to College

Gateway mural

High school students who participate in Metropolitan Community College’s Gateway to College program are told they can dream big, set goals and go for them. Many former students of Gateway to College have gone on to graduate from colleges and universities and pursue careers.

Those graduates serve as inspiration for future students, with photos of them hanging on the wall inside Gateway to College’s building on the Fort Omaha Campus, Building 7.

But the wall needed something more to inspire students, Gateway to College’s Will Smith and Amber Tjaden decided. They sought out the College’s Art and Design, Interactivity and Media Arts programs to find a student who wanted the opportunity to create a mural for the wall.

Ricardo Trejo, a student in the DIMA program, was selected to paint a mural on the wall that greets students in Building 9.

“Will reached out and I said I would go for it,” Trejo says.

Smith and Tjaden had a vision for the wall. They wanted students to see it filled with photos of graduates, but also art that would inspire them.

“We just wanted the idea that they’re reaching for their future,” Tjaden explains. “We wanted that whole ‘reaching for the stars’ concept. Ricardo took our verbal description and created it.”

“We let him run with it,” Smith says. “We eventually want it to wrap around the wall.”

Trejo started painting the mural in mid-December and finished it in mid-January. Along with the photos, the wall is now filled with dreamy, puffy clouds and a sky full of stars.

“Amber wanted something that was inspiring,” Trejo says. “I came up with something that had ‘reach for the stars’ and ‘dreams in the clouds.’”

To date, this is the largest project Trejo has ever completed alone. He is happy with his work and it still feels good to see it when he enters the building.

“It feels great. I didn’t even know I was this good,” he said with a laugh.

Gateway to College is currently accepting students for the spring quarter. Information sessions will be held Feb. 9, 16 and 23 at 9 a.m. and noon. To learn more, visit the Gateway to College page or call 531-MCC-2746.