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Career Success at Southridge

Career Success Workshop FlyerAs summer is approaching and students are starting to think about summer jobs, GEAR UP at Southridge High School decided to help students get ready for career success by hold a series of workshops to teach soft skills, interviewing, team work and other career-related skills to students. To make the workshops even more enticing we offered several scholarships to Cougar Quest at WSU Pullman for students who attended all three workshops and wrote an essay.

GEAR UP at Southridge decided to use materials from Junior Achievement, because they have a ready-made kit with seven 45-minute lessons on Career Success that feature themes we wanted to cover. We decided against doing the lessons one at a time, because our students have too many conflicts; sports, fieldtrips, doctor appointments, and family obligations. We grouped the first 3 lessons together, and then put lessons 4 &5 and 6 & 7 together to make three workshops. We decided to hold the workshops on Kennewick School District’s monthly early release days, when student have less conflicts and more time is available for workshops.

Scholarship WinnersWe made daily announcements over the intercom, put up spiffy flyers all over the school, made a huge sign on our bulletin board, and have manned a table at lunch advertising the workshops. The GEAR UP Ambassadors also announced the workshops in Navigation.

We had 35 students sign up. 23 show up to the first workshop and 17 to the second.

The first workshop was on critical thinking and communication. Students worked together to solve problems and communicate clearly. The second workshop focused on the hiring process and interviewing. Students practiced interviewing and then a local business owner spoke. She gave the student real perspective on what supervisors are looking for at the interview and on-the-job. The third workshop covers work priorities, looking for work, and personal branding.

The qualifying essay for the scholarship to Cougar Quest asked students to answer three questions in their essay: “What was one thing that you learned from the GEAR UP Career Success Workshop that you can apply to getting and keeping a job? How will attending Cougar Quest help you with your college success or goals? Why do you believe you should be a recipient of the Cougar Quest Scholarship?” We required a minimum of 600 words, with 200 words per question.

12 student submitted essays and we decided to award them all the scholarship. Two students wrote essay of particular note. Anika Walker wrote a heartfelt essay. Her clear voice and clarity made her essay outstanding. She wrote that, because of the workshops, “I feel more confident that I will do better in an interview….[and] I feel less stressed and better prepared … for the job I want.” Anika also said that she “hope[s] this experience will help me become more passionate about becoming a vet[erinarian]…[and] broaden my experience with other careers.” The other notable essay was written by Denver Rangel. Denver wrote that people see him “as a goofy kid that messes around,” but they miss his persistence and dedication. He wrote that he “want[s] to have a great future and do what is best for me.” Many students expressed their appreciation for the workshops and how the Career Success Workshop will help them get and keep jobs and help with their careers.

GEAR UP's Talon Room

For young scholars trying to succeed in high school there are many opportunities to get involved with on campus and really become an aspiring person.  From key club to deca, or speech and debate to drama, Chiawana High School is active around the clock.  It is an honor to add GEAR UP to this mix of amazing; moreover, a place where scholars can call home.  For current freshmen and sophomores the Talon Room is quickly becoming a place to  know!  A place where students can gain academic skills, find an accommodating location to do some schoolwork, ask a tutor for clarification in most every subject, watch upper classmen finalize college scholarships and applications, start collegiate planning and even catch the bug to become a GEAR UP ambassador.  A home with a fridge, microwave, sink and books they can call their own is rapidly growing in both attendance and participation thanks to a continued college going culture here in the Riverhawk Nation!  Aside from the resources they can flourish in, rising students are beginning to ask the right questions around an all encompassing post secondary educational future.  When is the next college campus visit, how do we find scholarships, is the SAT or ACT better, college is expensive; how do we pay, where should I go and so forth.  All the right questions to ask in an oh so productive environment.  As always, we are excited to start the college planning phases with students in hopes that along the way they enjoy the ride and become team mates and colleagues through higher education one day soon.  Some will stick to one plan and others will change it a few times.  But, one thing is for sure and consistent.  GEAR UP will be here to help advise and support you through your senior year.  Good luck and keep it coming.  We love it!

From GEAR UP to College

At times it is difficult to say goodbye, so we won’t.  Instead, we will sound the alarm, prepare some food and welcome our seniors to a future of their own.  The past four years have proven to be fun, daunting, challenging, exhilarating and much more.  But, most of all, it has been a high school career worth sharing with the world.  As a freshmen, the new environment can be quite intimidating for that first semester.  This is where GEAR UP blossoms.  It was that freshmen year that we began to introduce scholars to our Talon Room and official GEAR UP program.  A holistic academic learning environment and center that mimics a college hub, where students early on learn that we are a team of young professionals willing to navigate the academic waters with intent and an end in mind! This end is COLLEGE.  After a nice early introduction and college exploration, it was time to get started.  For the next two years eager scholars began to look for any opportunity to go visit a college campus, some with great intent and others for exploration.  Many began to participate in after school & academic understanding programs, our ambassador and peer mentor teams, search for any and all scholarship opportunities, job shadow and really get after paving a college path for not only themselves, but for the entire family.  Throughout this process many of our students changed interests, college choices, explored majors/minors and some even realized that what they thought would work, in the end, was a completely different case.  All in all, they learned and grew to become ready for their senior year.  As the last of four years arrived, they looked a little nervous.  Eager, but nervous!  We were quickly trending with writing letters of recommendation, college application deadlines, SAT/ACT skills development, scholarship applications and  campus visits to make the last minute decisions work.  Wow, it was really here.  The time to guide and help them make the best choice for a college fit due to financing, distance, college majors and minors, meal plans, orientation sessions and finally choosing a place to call home for years to come.  Finally, it is nice to share that most all students searching for college through GEAR UP made it happen.  With some relevance, advising, clarification and working together, we were able make college a plan, not a dream.  But hey, dreams are cool; and with this one, you can pinch yourself and be on time for the next class on a campus that was earned, not given.  CONGRATULATIONS Riverhawks.  Come back and see us over the Thanksgiving break this fall.  We miss you and good luck.

GEAR UP Riverhawk looks forward to college

Outgoing, inspiration and diligent are just a few things Vanesa Romero shares with her fellow student as well as our staff. Vanessa is a very dedicated student who puts her academics first. She is a senior here at Chiawana High and is a part of our GEAR UP ambassadors. Vanesa is also involved in key club, link crew and the Nation Honor Society. She has been able to manage her person responsibilities as well as her school work. Vanesa is a great example of a determined student. She has proved to herself that she can achieve anything and that fighting for a brighter future is worthwhile. I am really proud to say I was able to be a part of her successful journey.

Vanesa has been accepted to attend WSU Tri-Cities this fall. She wants to pursue a degree in the medical field and one day she will come back to server her community as a doctor. She would like to pave the way for her younger sibling and show to others,“ Si, se puede” (Yes, it is possible.)  Vanesa constantly utilizes our resources and helps market our program to other students. Displaying a helpful and energetic attitude towards any task given, always made her performs shine.

Two important aspects she learned from GEAR UP are college readiness and awareness, as well as preparing and searching for college information. Vanessa has mostly enjoyed being the president of the GEAR UP Ambassadors and the different leadership roles she been in. Vanesa has been able to create relationships with the WSU Tri-cities representatives and has utilized in great portions.

I asked Vanessa why school was important to her and she said, “ I want to have a better future and education will get me there. I will be the first one to attending a university and I hope my younger sibling will follow my footsteps.” We all support Vanessa and we are all confident that she will continue to be successful in all her goals. Vanessa not only inspires her classmates, but she also inspires us as a staff  to keep pushing our student to set goals and follow their dreams. 

GEAR UP Hosts Career Fair at Clarkston High School

The Clarkston GEAR UP Program partnered with the Clarkston Education Foundation (CEF) and Clarkston High School to host the first annual career fair at Clarkston High School. The career fair was held on March 25th, 2015 from 8:00 AM to 2:30 PM in Clarkston High School’s main gym.  

With a total of 49 exhibitor booths and 65 professional presenters, Clarkston High students had a variety of careers and educational programs to explore. 

The event fit nicely in the high school setting as the school is now required to assist all students with a “high school and beyond plan”, which is a graduation requirement. The goal was to provide CHS students firsthand information to assist them with choosing a career path to meet this requirement.

Professionals shared the educational path (high school, vocational/technical, college) that allowed them to become successful in their chosen field. This included daily work life, salary range, and long-term career opportunities. This vital information will facilitate students’ exploration of potential educational and career interests. 

Prior to the event, students completed career planning surveys/inventories to assist them in discovering their own interests, talents and values. 

In a world that is changing faster than ever with new technologies that affect how we work, learn, and communicate, new opportunities are presented in education and the world of work. Clarkston GEAR UP is extremely pleased with the participation of the professional community and the impact they made on the lives and futures of our students.

Thank you to all those that supporting the Clarkston High School GEAR UP Career Fair!

Dr. Mark Milliron visits Walla Walla High School Students

Dr. Mark Milliron visited Walla Walla High School on March 3rd for a presentation about “Becoming an Engaged Student.” He explained to us about what we can expect after high school and in life. He emphasized preparing ourselves for our future because there are going to be a lot of barriers along the way, but we shouldn’t stop trying to further our career goals. He gave different examples throughout this presentation, but the one that stuck with me and even other students I spoke to is how some famous people failed before they became successful. For example, the recording company for the Beatles said they “didn’t like their sound” but that didn’t stop them. Also, Oprah Winfrey was fired from her job as a television reporter because she was “unfit for TV” but now she is one of the most iconic faces on television. These successful people kept preserving, despite setbacks, to get where they are right now.

I really though Dr. Milliron’s presentation was great because not only did he give me hope, but said that “even if we stumble in life, get right back up and move forward.” He was encouraging and right to the point saying that we can be more than we ever imagined. That gave me confidence that I can be someone in their world if I put my mind and heart into it, especially when it comes to college. I plan on attending Seattle University or the University of Washington to try new things and explore what careers are best for me!

(Dr. Mark David Milliron is Co-Founder and Chief Learning Officer of Civitas Learning, an organization committed to helping students learn well and finish strong on education journeys.)

This article was written by Selina Ruiz, she is a senior at Walla Walla High School.

LEAP Conference: Encouraging Academic Success for Latino/a Students

Walla Walla High School GEAR UP partnered with Walla Walla Public Schools District (WWPS) to send twenty-eight Walla Walla High School students to the Latino/a Educational Advancement Program’s 2015 Conference held in Tacoma, WA on February 26 through 28. At the event, students heard inspirational stories from various Latina/o undergraduate students, graduate students, professionals, and keynote speaker Justice Mary Yu. Although all the speakers shared different life experiences, they all reminded our WaHi GEAR UP students that higher education is important and encouraged them to strive for that education.

Along with endorsing higher education, L.E.A.P Conference gave WaHi GEAR UP students the opportunity to visit the State Capitol Building in Olympia and meet their county’s representatives. During this meeting with the legislature, students presented a problem in the Walla Walla community they thought important. These students chose to address the lack of youth recreational resources as positive alternatives for de-stressing and community involvement. These students also elected Stephanie Reyes (‘15) and Miguel Baza (‘17) as their speakers during their meeting with House Representatives Marueen Walsh and Terry Nealy. While Reyes presented the students’ concerns about extracurricular activities, Baza shared his personal story to highlight why this issue is important to himself and other students. Although Walsh and Leary did not guarantee any projects addressing the students’ concerns they did encourage the students seek out community organizations, empowering these students to create change in their communities.

On the last day of the conference, L.E.A.P. organized two sessions of ten workshops that taught students about the Chicana/o movement, advocacy through storytelling, learning leadership skills, thriving in college, and many other inspirational and motivational subjects. Students even learned how to salsa and tango before the closing ceremony began. Through these workshops, L.E.A.P. provided cultural awareness as well as leadership skills and college readiness.

For most of these students this trip was their first time being in the western part of the state, which made for a perfect opportunity to visit college some campuses these students generally would not have the chance of visiting. Because of Olympia’s proximity to Lacey, we scheduled a campus tour and visit at St. Martin’s University after students met with their representatives. On the next day, on the way back to Walla Walla, students visited the UW Seattle campus and experienced dining at one of the campus’ cafes.

To ensure the experiences and knowledge gained by these twenty-eight students from WaHi was transmitted and shared with their parents, WaHi GEAR UP provide a space for student presentations and invited families to attend WaHi GEAR UP’s L.E.A.P. Parent Night on March 11. Students spoke on various topics during this event. Some spoke about what they learned and what they loved about the conference. Others gave a detailed description of the conference agenda and events. Still others spoke about their new found motivation through, inspiration from, and gratitude for all their families and community have done to set these students up for an educated future. To close out our event, GEAR UP Student Ambassador Gaby Rodriguez gave a presentation on college and career readiness. Students all came away from the experience with valuable college readiness skills, leadership skills and added to their skill set for post secondary success! 

Students included in the LEAP Conference from Walla Walla High School represented all 3 grants; HOH3, HOH2 and OVP2.

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