GEAR UP program provides enhanced opportunity for students
What do I want to be when I grow up?
Humboldt Unified School District sophomores are frequently asked to ponder this question as they find themselves about half-way through a federally funded program called Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP).
The district is one of nine in the state participating in GEAR UP.
The free program is designed to help students succeed in school and define their path going forward, specifically targeting the class of 2018.
“Our goal is to get the kids to be academically, socially and developmentally ready for post-secondary education, whether that be military, two year degree, four year degree, etc.,” said Sandra Clark, a GEAR UP Coordinator.
Starting in 2012, HUSD’s class of 2018 was in seventh grade and consisted of about 500 students — that number has dwindled to about 400 as some students have left the district.
Since then, they have been consistently provided opportunities to expand their horizons through job shadowing, college campus visits, mock career fairs, mentoring and regular counseling.
One such job shadowing experience took place on Tuesday, April 19. About 25 of the GEAR UP students were selected to participate in the outing based on their interests.
Each outing typically focuses on a different theme, but this most recent one was more of a general career exploration fieldtrip.
The students were first taken to Prescott’s Hampton Inn to receive an overview on the hospitality and tourism industry.
They then headed to Guidance Aviation, where they got to learn about flight simulators and careers in aviation and engineering.
While at Guidance, local professions in the film industry also gave the students an idea of what it takes to communicate a message effectively and tell a story using video.
“A lot of these kids are interested in audiovisual and film,” Clark said.
Others were curious about law enforcement, so GEAR UP had some members of Prescott’s K-9 unit meet the group at Heritage Park Zoo to show them how the police dogs are trained.
The day ended at Prescott Valley’s Civic Center, where the students got to speak with Prescott Valley Town Manager Larry Tarkowski.
Bradshaw Mountain High School sophomore Alexandra Hardin has found the effort put toward her and her classmate’s development by GEAR UP to be fascinating.
“It’s really interesting to see how the program has evolved with the funding that they have,” Hardin said. “It started out as ‘what classes are you going to be taking in high school’, to ‘what do you want to do’, and now ‘what schools are you looking at.’”
Only 16 years old, Hardin is already pretty set on her goals.
“I’m actually going for a law degree,” she said.
To help her and a few other students on a similar path succeed, GEAR UP has organized a job shadowing program with a local lawyer that will take place next week.
“They help you set up where you’re going to go and create goals for ourselves that are made achievable,” Hardin said.
Nikki McFarland, who graduated from Bradshaw High School a few years ago and is now employed by the school district to assist with the GEAR UP program, said she’s a little envious of the GEAR UP students.
“It would have been so different if I had gone through something like this,” McFarland said. “These students have so much more opportunity now.”