Gatti didn’t always embrace education. She dropped out of high school her junior year, admitting, “I hated school. Hated it. It was just not for me.”
Instead, Gatti got by, combining her talent as a gospel singer with odd jobs to make money, but by the time she turned 24, she realized she needed something more stable. She moved home to Virginia Beach and applied to Tidewater Community College after talking with her father, a community college professor in New York.
“He told me to try community college first before going for the big university,” Gatti said. “He told me I’d get that one-on-one time.”
The years at TCC changed her life.
“I was so comfortable,” she says. “I didn’t want to leave.”
Gatti became passionate about writing for the school newspaper “The Counterpoint,” as it allowed her to cover sports and entertainment. She particularly enjoyed writing about the East Coast Hockey League’s Hampton Roads Admirals, sharpening her interviewing techniques by regularly dealing with brash coach John Brophy.
Gatti graduated from TCC with an Associate of Science in General Studies before transferring to Norfolk State University, where she earned her bachelor’s in mass communication in 2008.
“I was so comfortable at TCC that I didn’t want to leave,” Gatti said. “The professors treat you like a friend. You have that professional relationship. They actually cared about you. Because of its size, you have opportunities to do so many things if you’re ambitious.”
After a brief stint at a community newspaper outside of Charlottesville, Gatti was hired as an editor at BeliefNet, which she describes as motivational, inspirational lifestyle site with a reach of three million. Gatti still prefers to write about entertainment and was thrilled when a recent story called for her to sit down with Harrison Ford and talk about his role in “42.”
“It’s Harrison Ford, so that was fun,” she says.
A recent assignment also took her to North Carolina for a Michael Landon Jr. film and she recently auditioned for “The Voice.” Gatti is also working toward her master’s in interactive media online from Quinnipiac University.
“If I hadn’t had the group around me at TCC, maybe I wouldn’t have gone as far,” Gatti said. “I think TCC is a great starting point for young people, and they can go anywhere.”