Avanzando Juntos: GEARing UP for College Together!
January 7, 2011 Issue 4
U T PA G E A R U P N E W S Upcoming Events Administrative Services Report Distributed
Coursework and grades for the first semester due
GEAR UP Project Meeting
AVID Teacher/Coordinator Meeting
Teaming Up: Action Council and Las Platicas Academy
AVID GEAR UP Tutor Training
Transition to College Workshop
Dr. Cantu’s Corner Welcome back and Happy New Year to all of our GEAR UP schools! December seemed to pass by quickly, so let me catch you up on what took place. Our professional development for teachers continued as we had Agile Mind consultants conduct demonstrations and co-teach with our math teachers and students. Also, our GEAR UP Coordinators and Liaisons were busy actively participating in the “Toys for Tots” campaign which was a success. In mid-December, we hosted the Executive Alliance meeting where administration and GEAR UP staff met to review mid-year status reports and obtain updates. Thank you to Coordinators Liaisons and Administration for doing a great job completing Senior Year Timeline activities and keeping parents involved in this process.
Hands shaking, palms sweating, heart beating like a drum; I can’t wait until I receive that fateful e-mail. The entire process, from filling out the QuestBridge application to being told I was a finalist, to submitting my final materials to each college, has been one emotional rollercoaster after another. After all the effort I’ve put into this scholarship, I’m hoping and praying that I get good news.
Continue Applying to Colleges Work on FAFSA Application February 2011
Submit Completed FAFSA Application Complete Scholarship Applications
As the countdown continues to graduation, we will continue to complete the necessary steps to ensure our students are college bound. So, keep plugging away and making a difference where you are. Make it a great year!
Written By: Anahi Gonzalez, Weslaco East H.S. Anahi shares her college bound experience from beginning to end.
Senior Year Monthly Focus
During the month of January, our focus is to assist students and parents in completing the FAFSA application, which ideally, should be submitted at the beginning of February. Parents and students should already have their FAFSA PIN numbers, so the next step is to encourage parents to complete their income tax returns. In addition, many schools will host FAFSA nights and information will be reviewed at parent meetings to encourage parents and students to complete these tasks.
Truthfully, I pushed myself to pursue the scholarship because of a trip to Stanford University two years prior with GEAR UP. We visited campus, and after the tour I just knew that I wanted to get my Bachelor’s degree from there. The campus seemed so laid-back and unassuming for being such a prestigious school. From then on, I set my goals on being accepted to Stanford. I worked hard in school and made sure that my ACT scores were up to par and worked hard on my application essays, editing them time and
time again. However, no matter how much work I did, I knew I would need to get a lot of scholarships in order to pay for all the expenses. QuestBridge presented the perfect opportunity for me, a four-year, all expenses paid scholarship to Stanford loomed before me, so close yet so out of reach. The preliminary application involved a lot of personal information, financial and family circumstances. Then, a month later, the finalist announcement came and I was told I needed to submit the Common Application, official test scores, official financial documents, and official school transcripts, all within one week. With renewed determination, I pushed myself to have everything turned in at least two days before the deadline. The only thing left to do was wait. The time has come; I’ve just received the e-mail that could determine the path my life will take. I click on it and wait for it to load. I can’t look. I have my friend check the results for me. I watch his face. He smiles and tells me I’ll be in California next year. It’s paid off…all the work, the nerves, and the waiting. I reached my goal and all because of one little trip with GEAR UP.
January 7, 2011
Shawn Kiefer: Setting the Standard at Lasara H.S Acceptance Speech Written By: Shawn Kiefer My name is Shawn Kiefer and I am a senior at Lasara High School. First of all, I would like to say thank you to the Border Patrol, UTPA GEAR UP, and the TSTEM program for choosing me to be the first ever “Head of the Class” participant of Lasara High School. I am truly honored to have received such a prestigious award. Now, I’d like to tell you all a little bit about myself and what I have done to get to this point in my life. I am involved in many different aspects of the community, starting with being a musician. As a musician, I have learned self discipline through practicing countless hours to better myself. Music has always been a passion of mine. I enjoy playing music because I feel that I can lift the moods of individuals. For example, I perform with the church choir every Sunday, and you know how it is on an early Sunday morning: feeling tired, drained, not wanting to get out of bed. But as soon as I hit that first chord, I feel that the audience wakes up when I hear them singing along to the church hymns. Performing in front of an audience has built my confidence and self esteem as well. Being apart of the basketball team since the sixth grade has also taught me how to work as a team to achieve a common goal and I am constantly encouraging myself and my teammates to be the best we can possibly be. Not only does this apply to basketball, but it also to my academics. Ever since I can remember, I’ve always brought home my report cards eager to show my parents my good grades, and this habit has followed me throughout my high school career. I am proud to say that my hard work has paid off; I am now in the Top Ten Percent of my class. Being a part of the first senior class at Lasara High School is really something that is unique. Most people can’t say that they were the first seniors to graduate at their high school. I feel that this is a real honor. I am glad that our superintendent and board members chose to create this amazing learning environment. I am also proud to say that I was inducted into the first ever National Honors Society here at Lasara. I was also recently elected to be the vice-president of my class. It makes me feel good that my classmates are willing to trust
me in making major decisions for our well being. Being apart of the PALs program has also allowed me to mentor two fourth grade children in order to mold them into well rounded individuals who will succeed in their future endeavors. I am currently employed at a local pharmacy and this gives me the opportunity to work with people outside of a school environment. Having this job has helped me with my social skills, confidence, and self esteem. I am also an intern for our school’s band director where I am instructing the brass section on how to play their instruments. Because of my love of music, I am planning to major in it. My school of choice is Texas A&M Kingsville to pursue my career goals. I want to become a music therapist or manage my own music store. In regard to awareness about college, I want to thank the UTPA GEAR UP program. I want to thank them for giving me the opportunity and encouragement to continue pursuing my post secondary education. I have been privileged to be in the dual and concurrent enrollment classes that will save my family and I precious time and money. I have accumulated enough college hours to where when I graduate high school, I will be entering college as a sophomore. Being the oldest of four children, GEAR UP has given me the opportunity to be an example for my younger siblings. I will encourage my siblings just as GEAR UP has encouraged me to pursue my dreams and to go to college no matter what. I want to thank my GEAR UP Coordinator, Mr. Raul Gonzalez, for giving me the tools necessary to succeed now and for the rest of my life. I want to thank my grandparents for providing me with a quiet room to study in and always having a good meal for me afterwards. And lastly, I would like to say thank you to my mom and dad for encouraging me to pursue beyond the classroom and for never discouraging me in trying new things. They have always taught me to try my best, never quit on anything, and not only accept failure, but to learn from it. Thank you.
From No Dreams, to Big Dreams Written By: Esthela Moreno, Weslaco East H.S. The tears rolling down my cheeks and the pain I felt in my heart as I stood beside my mother’s lifeless body was overwhelming. It was an experience that I will never forget. I was beginning my freshman year in high school when my mother passed away due to the debilitating disease called cancer. My mother was the only person I had who actually believed that I could be some-
body someday. She told me one time as we were sitting on a hammock, “Mija, we don’t have much to give you, but you have our love and our support to whatever you want to do in life. Hopefully, you will choose to go beyond high school and help our family get out of poverty.” These words inspired me and for the first time in my life, I believed that I could have a nice job
January 7, 2011
From No Dreams, to Big Dreams Con’t someday. However, all of these thoughts faded along with the demise of my mother. No one in my family has ever pursued any type of education beyond high school. My father did not finish elementary and my older brother started working building houses in the sweltering heat of South Texas to help put food on the table and a roof over our heads. As one of the siblings in a family of eight, I thought I would be working at a fast food chain or bagging groceries right after high school graduation to help out my family. Plans of pursuing a post secondary education had not occurred to me at all. To begin with, I had no idea about the college admissions process, deadlines, and how on earth I could support myself through college. I am the type of student who doesn’t ask questions and only speaks when spoken to. I am not popular, outspoken, or involved in any extra-curricular activities. I never thought I could go to college. In fact, I didn’t know anything about college. Is college even an option for someone like me?
My ignorance and insecurities about college and my future in general changed when I became part of the GEAR UP program at my campus. The beautifully decorated posters about college in the hallways and my name in a graduation cap hanging on the ceiling along with the other caps of students of Class of 2011, finally meant something to me. I saw myself graduating from high school and going to college. I am very reserved and shy, but I had the courage to sit down with our GEAR UP Coordinator, Mrs. Cindy Cid, and talk about what I needed to do to get accepted into college. I am in the process of applying to the University of Texas Pan-American and I’m really excited to begin the journey towards a future that I never thought possible. I plan to pursue a Bachelors degree in Psychology and someday make my mother proud of my accomplishments. I would like to tell her that I did choose to go beyond high school with the help of a program called GEAR UP.
Bronc Round Up Written by: Vanessa Rodriguez, PSJA North H.S. School has always been very important to me, especially when it comes to figuring out what I want to major in when I get to college. I have already thought about majoring in Nutritional Sciences, but wasn’t quite sure how to achieve this. I was still a little scared about graduating and then going off to college, not knowing what to expect but luckily, something amazing happened that inspired me and helped me not to be afraid of the future. PSJA North GEAR UP students went on a field trip to UTPA for an event called “Bronc Round Up.” As we stepped off the bus, I felt as if something special was going to happen because my heart was beating rapidly. While we were eating breakfast on campus, there were bags filled with college brochures being passed around. When I reached over for my bag, we were told that inside the bags were raffle tickets to win a special prize. At that moment, a raffle ticket number was called out by the speaker, “15-7-7.” I thought to myself, “Oh my goodness…I won.“ A few camerawomen came to take a picture of me and then handed me a green folded paper. When I opened it, I was surprised to see that it was a scholarship for $500….I was so excited! I also received a basket filled with candies, a UTPA shirt and a koozie.
After we ate, we toured the dorms and lounge area where most students live. Some dorms were nicely decorated but looked like hotels while others were more welcoming because they were more spacious, had windows and the walls were wider. I also liked that our tour guide told us that we could pick who we would like to room with during our first year of college. After the tour, we walked back to the other side of campus and entered a college classroom to listen to a professor and several other speakers. After this lecture, a speaker from the College of Health Sciences came in and told us about Health Science majors. One of the majors that caught my attention was Nutrition. When it came up in the presentation I wrote down a few notes about how I would need to take chemistry and psychology. The last speaker mentioned admissions requirements to UTPA. Before we left for the day, we got a chance to see the UTPA Lady Broncs Volleyball team play Chicago State in the Fieldhouse. As I walked up the steps of the bus to leave, I began to think that I really enjoyed the field trip. I was able to meet nice people, attend a class lecture and even won a scholarship to pay for some of my college books. I’m really looking forward to going to UTPA and pursuing my major!