As a resource and catalyst of change, Juan Cangas from Cool Speak was invited to speak at Kiona-Benton High School this past Spring during his GEAR UP speaking tour.
The anticipation of his arrival was both filled with excitement and apprehension as the high school was faced with the possibility of canceling the assembly due to the fear of COVID-19. Fortunately, schools had not been ordered to cancel group activities or close. Therefore, the assembly went on as planned.
Keep in mind, when we invite presenters to come to our schools to speak to students, our highest hope is, “if just one student is inspired, then it was worth it.” This may sound like a cliché, but that is exactly what occurred! Mr. Cangas’ message grabbed attention, started conversations, and inspire students to take action! After the assembly, Mr. Cangas’ was invited to the GEAR UP office where he continued to greet students. One student in particular walked into the office and proceeded to thank him for his powerful message and thanked the GEAR UP site manager for bringing him to the high school. She quietly explained that on this day she was planning to quit school. However, after hearing Mr. Congas’ encouraging message, she realized what a valuable opportunity she was about to throw away. The next day, KI-BE was ordered shut their doors due to COVID-19. Some may say this was a mere coincidence. Others may say it was fate. Regardless of which side you take, there’s no doubt this event went from merely functional to a powerful presentation that produced lifelong results at Kiona-Benton High School!
GEAR UP is happy to introduce our new Peer Mentors at Prosser High School! These kiddos have made a commitment to assist GEAR UP staff in promoting GEAR UP events, spread information regarding SAT/ACT/ financial aid/ and scholarship opportunities to their peers. They will assist in GEAR UP meetings, spread the latest news about GEAR UP. Congratulations to Karla Martinez, Gabriel Orozco, Juana Martinez, and Jonathan Delgado! They will also create new ways to reach out to the student cohort at PHS. The peer mentors have attended a two day training at WSU Tri-Cities, where they learned different methods and strategies to accomplish just that!
PHS along with the help of GEAR UP, Heritage, and WSU reps, had a successful Financial Aid night on Oct. 3rd! We had over 30+ students and parents come in to receive help with completing the FAFSA/ WASFA. With the help of Heritage/ WSU reps, students and parents were able to complete the application hassle free. Parents were able to receive answers about the process of the application, and what the next step would be. Francisco, a rep from Heritage University, even offered to come in an additional day, to help those who were having trouble completing it at that time. It’s great to see a variety of professionals working on one goal, and that is college bound for the C/O 2017!
As GEAR UP continues their mission to guide students to pursue a post-secondary education, an Act Six & Ready to Rise representative, came down Oct.12th to speak to the students about their scholarship their programs have to offer. Ms. Catalina spoke about the Ready to Rise scholarship which is targeted to students in the lower valley. Her emphasis on the number of Latino students who complete a post-secondary education, and the number was a shocker. Students realized that with the right mindset and attitude one has towards continuing their education will only benefit them in the long run. Ms. Amber and Francisco, spoke about the Act Six scholarship, which is a full ride scholarship to Heritage University. Students were given information about the application process for the Act Six. Making students aware of the free money available to them for college is just one step closer for them to succeed in college.
On July 24, Dayton GEAR UP sent one student to the campus of Central Washington University in Ellensburg, WA to participate in Washington Business Week. Since we had one student, we were able to ride with the GEAR UP group from Walla Walla.
“Everyone was really nice and helpful. I made a lot of new friends. It was an awesome experience, and I’m really glad I got to attend,” said Lily.
The week-long camp focused on agriculture and energy. At a glance, this is what the week was like. After the welcoming and opening ceremony, we went right into the first session, picking from three workshops/meetings of our choice. Every day we had three sessions of workshops/meetings. By the end of the afternoon we looked forward to dinner and free time from 5:00 -6:00. After dinner we had an assembly with businessmen and women as speakers. Then we had brainstorming after the evening assembly. By 9:00 pm we were back in our dorms for free time. Fun activities were posted on the dorm bulletin board if we wanted to participate. Lights out at 11:00 pm.
The meetings, workshops and speakers were exceptional to help students dive deep into the world of business while providing career and life skills critical to success in any profession. Students had the opportunity of building leadership skills and networking with business professionals. Lily states, that she would not have attended if GEAR UP hadn’t inspired or sent her.
It’s that time again! National GEAR UP Week took place Sept. 19th-23rd, and GEAR UP staff had a few planned activities for the 2017/18 cohort students at PHS. Our famous spin to win wheel, made an appearance during lunch as students had the chance to answer any question related to FAFSA, college application, SAT, grants, scholarships, and much more. If they answered a question close enough to the answer, they won a small prize. Other activities that were incorporated into this event were a writing contest, GEAR UP/ College bingo, and college logo shirt design. Seniors were also reminded that FAFSA opened up Oct.1st, and were given packets that walked students through the FAFSA application. That way, once Oct. 1st came around, students were able to apply for financial aid.
Moving on to Sept. 28th, GEAR UP held its first social of the school year. There wasn’t a big turn out as previous socials, but there was definitely new faces. Ms. Wilson coordinated this social to reach out to seniors and talked to them about the importance of scholarships and financial aid. She went on to explain GEAR UP’s objectives for this school year, which indicate that 85% of GEAR UP seniors need to complete the SAT, and 95% GEAR UP students need to complete the FAFSA. She explained how these goals will only help students to be successful in their college career. Ms. Wilson also handed out scholarship packets and FAFSA packets to those students who had not received one.
On Oct.3, Nanette Stark, PHS counselor, coordinated a FAFSA night, where seniors were able to apply for financial aid. Any senior who had questions about the application, or who weren’t sure how to fill it out, were able to attend and receive help from admissions counselor from WSU Tri-Cities, and Heritage University. There was also GEAR UP staff, Ms. Rivera and Ms. Wilson, who were assisting in any way they could. Some students had already filled out their FAFSA, but they were just curious on what the next step would be. Thanks to the help of WSU Tri-Cities and Heritage reps, along with GEAR UP/PHS staff, students at PHS were able to successfully apply for financial aid.
An upcoming event that GEAR UP staff have been working on is the Spokane National College Fair. Over 200 college/ universities from around the U.S will be attending this event! College reps will be able to answer any questions the students may have in regards to their school. GEAR UP will be taking 40 seniors to this event, along with PHS counselor Melanie Cushing. We are looking forward to this college fair, and meeting people from around the U.S.
This summer 130 Walla Walla High School GEAR UP students participated in College and Career readiness programs at college campuses across the Pacific Northwest. Students received on-campus, hands-on experiences in everything from building their own business plans to writing college essays and learning how to become leaders on their high school campus. Summer academic programming is a vital part of building a college-going culture and GEAR UP is happy to partner with our academic partners across the Northwest to ensure students get an 180-degree look at post-secondary education and career planning. Students that participated in summer programming also take part in many school year activities; including GEAR UP Student Ambassadors and GEAR UP Peer Mentors. All these summer experiences were paid for by GEAR UP funding through a Department of Education College and Career Readiness Grant.
Washington State University GEAR UP, which is located on campus at Walla Walla High School, involves a variety of innovative partnerships and initiatives to support students in college and career readiness skills.
For more information or to find out how your student can participate in GEAR UP programs check out our WWHS website www.yourcollegeandcareer.org or call Becky Waggoner-Schwartz 509-526-8621.