Incoming students at TMCC are gearing up for college and learning how to transition from high school student to college student at the GEAR UP Transition Day, held on Friday, Aug. 24 at the Dandini Campus.
The program, Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP), is a federally-funded grant the College received in 2012. This particular cohort of incoming TMCC students have been with the program since its inception, and have been preparing themselves for higher education since they were in middle school.
Mari Jimenez Ortiz, GEAR UP Ambassador Coordinator, has been working with this group of students since they were in 7th grade. Jimenez is an advocate for programs like GEAR UP that don’t just tell students they should go to college, but actually show them how they can reach these goals.
“A main focus of the GEAR UP program is to give students the tools they need to not only get to college, but to also make sure that they graduate from college,” said Jimenez.
GEAR UP was designed to increase the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education. Many of these students are first generation college students, and are trying to navigate the process of applying for and attending college for the first time. Esdras Grimaldo is one of these first generation college students in the GEAR UP program, and is excited to begin his education that will lead to a promising career in business. Without GEAR UP supporting him since middle school, he’s not sure he would be a college student today.
“There are a lot of resources they showed us that I didn’t know about before, I don’t think I would’ve been able to find them on my own,” Grimaldo said. “GEAR UP helped me with how to apply and what steps you need to take to actually become a college student.”
Grimaldo isn’t alone in this sentiment. Cinthia Gonzales, another GEAR UP student, shared her experience with the program.
“GEAR UP always made me actually try. It pushed me to think about college more and actually make college part of my plan,” said Gonzales. “Without GEAR UP I probably wouldn’t have even applied for college.”
GEAR UP identifies four program goals, which include academic preparation, graduation and college, knowledge and college-going culture. Between 7th grade and high school graduation, GEAR UP provides students with workshops in financial aid and college access, mentoring, networking opportunities, help with navigating TMCC’s student resources, college coaching, dual credit opportunities, summer camps, and field trips in-state and outside of Nevada to visit college campuses and businesses for career exploration.
“I really liked the field trips that GEAR UP took us on,” said Ana Vazquez, another GEAR UP student. “It helped me see what kind of career I actually want to go into.”
The GEAR UP Transition Day is another opportunity for this cohort of students to have a seamless transition into college. Students learned about time management, communication and leadership, and were able to have all of their questions answered about TMCC and college life in general. The workshops were facilitated by Paradigm Shift, a leadership development group focused on showing people how to shift their perception to be more productive and positive.
There are 117 GEAR UP students currently enrolled with TMCC. GEAR UP students will continue to participate in workshops and other activities through their time at TMCC to help them become more acclimated to college life.