Our Admissions Team

We believe that parents need to find a team, not a building or a philosophy, but a group of people, who can relate to their child as they learn and grow. We are here to introduce you to the people of Gateway!  

Laura Kemper, LCSW

Laura Kemper, LCSW

Admissions Director

"Creating a safe and comfortable environment for new families to share their story is a critical component of the admissions process. The rapport created in this first step is essential in establishing a trusting relationship with our families who are taking a giant leap of faith in professionals they have just met. They deserve an award as does their child for being so brave and courageous!" 

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Credentials

  • Master of Social Work, University of Utah
  • Bachelor of Science, Speech-Language Pathology and Hearing Science, University of Utah
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Philosophy

"The truth is: Belonging starts with self-acceptance. Your level of belonging, in fact, can never be greater than your level of self-acceptance, because believing that you are enough is what gives you the courage to be authentic, vulnerable and imperfect."

 -Dr. Brene Brown, LCSW

Gateway Academy provides a safe and nurturing environment for students to begin their journey of self-acceptance. This is the first step in their emotional growth experience to heal their relationship with themselves as well as their relationship with their family.

Professional

Laura started her professional career as a social worker in the emergency department providing crisis intervention to those needing emergency care. Her entry into private treatment began as an assistant therapist at a therapeutic wilderness program working with adolescent boys. Later, Laura worked as an educational consultant guiding families in need through the treatment process. This ultimately lead her to what she enjoys the most...Admissions. Laura's passion lies in working closely with families during the emotionally-draining admissions process. She has a natural ability to connect with others, create a comfortable atmosphere and reduce the anxiety associated with placing a child in treatment. 


Personal

When Laura isn't working, you will find her spending time with her husband, 2 dogs and her very energetic set of twins. She enjoys the great outdoors, creating art and jewelry using warm glass as her medium and trying to keep her mind, body and soul in shape to keep up with her kids and life. Laura has a lust for life and enjoys going to new places to vacation...mostly the beach!

 

Melissa Hickman, LCSW

Melissa Hickman, LCSW

Marketing Director and Co-Owner

"Unless they feel safe, troubled adolescents can't begin to deal with their issues. To me, that makes sense; why would they risk? From the beginning, my goal with Gateway was to help create that safe place, and to staff it with extraordinary people who can provide the very best individualized treatment. As an owner, a therapist and a mom, I'm proud to say that's just what we've done."

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Credentials

  • Master of Social Work, Brigham Young University
  • Bachelor of Science, Social Work, Brigham Young University
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker
  • Psychotherapist in outpatient and residential settings since 1991

Philosophy

For Melissa, there is no panacea—no single therapeutic approach— that can successfully treat all issues. She knows that adopting one therapeutic style may seem easier, but it just doesn't work. For her, each boy and his family are different from the next, with individual issues to sort through and deal with. Because there are only 16 boys in each Gateway home, the staff has the time and the resources to make personalized decisions about every student's therapy, education, and community involvement. And everyone at Gateway—from the house staff and outdoor team to the dedicated teachers and therapists—is highly invested in each young man who walks through its door.

Professional

As Melissa observed the successes and shortcomings of the many various therapeutic approaches in her long career, her vision for a place like Gateway grew. She has been a therapist for at-risk youth since 1991, serving in every capacity, including private practice, wilderness therapist, runway shelter therapist, and clinical director. As the Admissions Director for Gateway, she carefully evaluates every applicant. She then plays an active role with the Gateway team to determine the best treatment program for each boy. Melissa believes it takes a village to achieve success, and credits the entire team for making the dream of Gateway a reality.

Personal

Melissa likes to press the boundaries of her world by exploring other places and cultures. She then hurries home again to spend time with her grandchildren. Melissa also enjoys knitting, scuba diving, and remodeling houses.

Creating Student Success

Melissa recalls working with one of Gateway's first students. He was using drugs, expressing animosity toward his family, and performing poorly at school. In short, he was spinning out of control. His confrontational behavior continued for the first few months at Gateway, but gradually treatment began to gain traction. He discovered a love for bouldering in the outdoor education program, and he learned to apply himself academically. Melissa observed that as he gained confidence and stability, his relationship with his parents and siblings improved. Since leaving Gateway, he has graduated from college and now competes in bouldering.

 

Sunni Kim, B.S.

Sunni Kim, B.S.

Admissions Counselor

"One of the best things about Gateway is how integrated our teams are. This ensures that your son is cared for, and supported by, every staff who gets the opportunity to work with him. Prior to my position as Admissions Counselor, I had the opportunity to work at Gateway as a staff mentor for several years. This provided me with a great appreciation and understanding of the journey our boys and their families go through. With the help of sincere and intentional support, our boys at Gateway start to truly believe in the capabilities and potential that we see in them." 

 

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CREDENTIALS

Bachelor's of Science in Family Science 
Family Life Educator in the Stronger Families Project
Mentor and Educator for Days for Girls International 
Worked with youth since 2013 

PHILOSOPHY

Sunny believes Gateway's relationship-based model provides each and every student the necessary safety and care to allow growth to flourish. Since working as a staff mentor and as a manager on the residential team at Gateway, Sunny has observed the amazing potential each student reveals as they embrace their identities and self-discovery. Through her studies and years of working with youth, Sunny believes each of us have an inherent need to belong and to be heard. 
PROFESSIONAL

Sunny earned her Bachelor's of Science with an emphasis in Family Science in the Spring of 2020 and plans to receive a master's degree in Social Work. She has worked with the Days for Girls International program and has worked as a Family Life Educator in the Stronger Families Project which highlights the family as the fundamental source of happiness. With Gateway, Sunny has worked as a staff mentor, a residential manager, and now as the Admissions Counselor. 

PERSONAL

Sunny is an artist - she has played the violin for 15 years and has been part of several orchestras, including the University of Utah Symphony. Her latest artistic passion has transitioned into photography and currently works with a local wedding and commercial photography business. Sunny enjoys taking advantage of Utah's beautiful mountains to shoot portrait and fashion photography during her free time.