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April 30, 2021

A Guilford Transformation


My name is Gia Gaster (Henry) ’16, and Guilford College paved the road to my transformation of school bus driver turned attorney!

"The greatest gift Guilford gave me was the ability to see my own self-worth and value by giving me opportunities to do and be my best. We never know what we are capable of until we are challenged. I learned that anything is possible with hard work and the support from those who believe in you."

Gia Gaster (Henry) '16
Peace and Conflict Studies major

While attending Guilford, I majored in Peace and Conflict Studies (PECS) and minored in Community Building. I was also a Friend to Friend Mentor (mentoring other adult students), a Center for Principled Problem Solving and Excellence in Teaching Scholar, and a Conflict Resolution Resource Center mediator/coordinator.

I stumbled upon Guilford College and the PECS major quite by accident, but it was for sure one of the best accidents of my life. 

Early On

Before starting at Guilford in the fall of 2012, I drove a school bus for children with special needs for 20 years. It was through this work where my passion for helping others and building bridges between differences began. I loved “my kids,” but I knew there was something more I needed to be doing. I never imagined that I was smart enough to attain a four-year degree that would allow me access to the jobs I wanted. To say school was challenging is an understatement. After barely graduating from high school, I attended Guilford Technical Community College (GTCC), but an Associate Degree just wasn’t to be. I eventually dropped out and became a full-time school bus driver at the age of 22. 

I reached my early 30s before I realized that I was not stupid — I was dyslexic. Through writing poetry and accessing online resources, I taught myself reading comprehension. 

The Click That Changed Everything

In 2012, I found the courage to give school another shot. I planned to return to GTCC for a graphic design/commercial art degree. But one fateful day as I was attempting to submit my paperwork on their website, I accidently clicked on a Guilford College link. On their page, they were showcasing the PECS major. I devoured the information with the realization that this was the click that would forever change my life. How was it that I had reached my 40s never knowing peace studies was a thing? I was scared to death, but I applied and was accepted.

My classes that first semester were challenging but intriguing. I was so excited for my first paper to be due! Of course I was signed up for Introduction to Peace and Conflict Studies, and I fell in love. Throughout my time at Guilford, I set the bar higher and higher for myself with every assignment and class. I not only met it but exceeded it time and again. I LOVED ALL OF IT! The learning, the challenges, the classes, the professors, and the history of Guilford. It was all perfect. Guilford College brought out the best in me. I found myself speaking in front of people, leading others, and changing lives, including my own. For the first time in my life, I felt smart, and my grades reflected that. I graduated with honors. 

Becoming

At the beginning of my fourth year at Guilford, I applied to the Elon School of Law in Greensboro and was accepted. I was even given a pretty decent scholarship. Not to say that law school was a breeze, but Guilford College gave me all the tools I needed to succeed. I graduated in the top half of my class, and I passed the bar exam on the first try. I am now the proud owner and solo practitioner of the Women’s Legal Advocacy Center of the Triad in Greensboro, N.C.

[Learn how you can attend Guilford and Elon Law School at the same time.] 

The greatest gift Guilford gave me was the ability to see my own self-worth and value by giving me opportunities to do and be my best. We never know what we are capable of until we are challenged. I learned that anything is possible with hard work and the support from those who believe in you. Guilford College is more than just a liberal arts institution, it is a transformative power to the lives of those fortunate enough to be called Guilfordians.

Do you want to transfer to Guilford College? Are you looking for a North Carolina college to complete your bachelor's degree? No matter your age or your interest, there's a place for you at Guilford. Contact the Office of Admission at admission@guilford.edu or 336.316.2100 to learn more and schedule your personalized visit to campus.