Welcome to WSU Early Outreach
GEAR UP at Kiona-Benton High School ventured on a day long trip to Yakima, WA. The first stop was to Yakima Valley Community College. A representative from the college informed students about the college and career paths available in the healthcare field. Ki-Be students also heard from TRIO, a federally funded outreach program similar to GEAR UP. The TRIO coordinator helped explain what it takes to be successful in college and the general resources available to them at not only YVCC, but any college/university. Students were then led on a campus tour where they took a more in-depth look at the dorms, dental hygiene program, and science building.
KiBe GEAR UP students enjoyed dining amongst college students at YVCC. They recapped the tour and the pros and cons of the college. Lunch provided an opportunity for students to discuss what programs piqued their interest.
The second part of the trip was a look at the Yakima Farm Workers Clinic on Nob Hill. This part of the trip was relevant to students because they had the opportunity to visualize potential career paths. Students heard from the dental, health care, and office administration program. The students also were taken on a very detailed tour. They saw a robot fill prescriptions in the pharmacy and heard from orthodontists, nurses, and physicians regarding the highlights of the careers as well as skills necessary to be successful.
The trip ignited the possibility of a science-based career for these students. They were attentive and had many questions for our presenters.
Maryna Obzhylova is a Soap Lake High School GEAR UP sophomore and she is a student that knows what it takes to be a success. She knows where she is going and what it takes to get there. Maryna is a first generation immigrant from the Ukraine. She is fluent in English, Ukrainian, and Russian. Her parents moved here so their children would have more opportunity for advancement in education and careers. She moved here when she was 6 years old and began kindergarten in Soap Lake. She has many friends and is a highly regarded student by teachers and students alike.
Maryna spends much of her time with school and babysitting her younger sister and 2 younger brothers but still finds time to do volleyball and maintain her 3.8 GPA. When asked what makes her interesting she replied, “I love to set goals and achieve them. “ She has plans to attend Big Bend to obtain a transfer degree and then apply to a university nursing school. “I would love to go to the University of Washington.” Her plans are to achieve at least a level of Registered Nurse but may go on to a higher degree such as a nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant.
Maryna has always taken advantage of GEAR UP programs such as trips to college campuses. She can be found in the GEAR UP room almost every day working on classes or doing homework. She truly knows what it takes to be a success and we look forward to working with her in the future.
GEAR UP at Southridge High School serves lots of great students, but Denver Rangel, a current 9th grader at Southridge High School and a GEAR UP Ambassador, has made some of the most notable improvements.
In 8th Grade, Denver felt his grades were bad and that bothered him, but he ignored it by choosing to think school wasn’t important. He explained that he goofed around and was lazy, especially slacking on his homework, and that was a big factor in his poor grades. Denver wasn’t motivated to change his ways. He just wanted to have fun with his friends. Denver’s teachers, GEAR UP Staff and his family became concerned that he wasn’t reaching his potential and was falling behind. They worked with Denver and he managed to pull his grades up and pass.
First semester of 9th grade, Denver took high school pretty seriously, but he got lazy and started slacking at the end of the semester just like in 8th grade. He was ashamed of his grades at the end of the semester. He decided to change his behavior by doing the following:
- No slacking
- Go to the After School Tutoring Program
- Ask Questions
- Get help when I need it from teachers and GEAR Staff
- Participate more in class
- Study at home, especially for test and quizzes
- Take more notes in class
He has really improved his grades, but he still has some work to do. Denver is particularly proud of improving his Biology grade from D+ to an A. He is working hard to stay focused, but has found it’s really hard to keep all of his grades up all the time. A couple grades slipped down a little bit.
Denver feels that improving his grades improved his self-confidence and he takes school more seriously when he does better. He thinks he is influencing his friends to do better too. His mother said she was proud of him. Denver is proud of himself too, but thinks he can do even better.
We have been inspired to see that Denver’s motivation is no longer from an outside source, but from himself and his desire to achieve his future goals. Denver wants to be an engineer and go to either WSU or UW. He knows he needs top grades to do that and he is doing the work to get them. Also he is eagerly taking advantage of every opportunity. He signed up to be a GEAR UP Ambassador and attends every meeting. He also attended our Career Success Workshop Series and won a Scholarship to Cougar Quest, and has signed up to attend WSU-TC’s Summer STEM Camp. We look forward to Denver’s continued success here at Southridge and beyond.
Sophomore Carlos Orozco represents GEAR UP as a student ambassador at River View High School. As an ambassador, Carlos said he has enjoyed being able to experience new opportunities through the GEAR UP program and also being able to get out of his comfort zone and meet new people. One thing that Carlos expressed that has been most rewarding to him from being a GEAR UP student is realizing how much work it is to get into college. Carlos says he completed two years of elementary education while residing in Mexico before he moved to the United States. Despite any obstacles Carlos has faced, he has always maintained his education as a priority. His motivation and dedication to keep excelling in his academics is very encouraging.
Carlos explained how during his time at River View High School he was encouraged by his math teacher, Mr. Eisenbarth to keep doing well. He said that he was taught different approaches to tackling difficult math problems. Mr. Eisenbarth has always reminded Carlos that “there is no one way to do math.” Carlos has always challenged himself and that is why he chooses to be in honors classes. He says he enjoys the advanced placement and working with his teachers to help improve his skills.
When asked about his secret as to why he is so academically successful, Carlos laughed and said that he likes to be organized and “keep things on track.” He also mentioned that he is very optimistic and likes to “see the logic in everything.” Talking to Carlos was really an enjoyable experience because it proves that some of the younger generations are very intelligent and willing to work hard in school, just as Carlos does. He also said that his teacher Mrs. Ward has taught him that helping people helps oneself in so many ways.
Carlos discussed a little about his busy schedule and how he finds the time to manage everything he is involved in. On top of school, Carlos plays sports such as Football and Track. He volunteers his time as a shot-clock-operator for his high school and Finley Middle School. Carlos is also involved in FCCLA, Soccer Club, and GEAR UP. Carlos enjoys being busy and says that a way he keeps everything in order is by managing his time. He also enforced that he focuses on academics while at school and his extra-curricular activities after school. Carlos is excited for the next school year to come because he is closer to graduation and entering college.
GEAR UP at Kiona Benton High School realized a need to help amp up the students’ involvement in their school and community. Thus the GEAR UP Ambassadors was started as a way to allow students to get involved in school and meet other goal-oriented, like-minded students. The students have been informed that one huge piece of college applications as well as many scholarship applications is community involvement and extra-curricular activities. Realizing that they need to be more involved, on March 30, 2015, GEAR UP Ambassadors took time from their spring break to promote positive vibes in their community.
Ambassadors wanted to provide smiles to residents in an assisted living home so they created cards filled with silly, light-hearted jokes. The cards are a small gesture, but will easily brighten someone’s day. Ambassadors also decided to take time to make cards for victims of domestic violence. They wanted to provide messages that help empower victims. The messages let victims know they are strong, beautiful, and powerful.
GEAR UP Ambassadors are quickly making a name for themselves within the community and will be increasing their community service role over the next year. As GEAR UP at KiBe looks to enhance its Ambassador Program, at least two, student-organized community service activities will become the standard. GEAR UP wants to help mold well-rounded students who are more aware of issues in their community and the world and who are ready to assist in creating the solutions.
One benefit of this GEAR UP sponsored community service activity was that sophomores got a jump start on activities for their college applications. Students had the chance to express their creativity, serve others, and have fun while doing so.
Dedicated KiBe GEAR UP students loaded onto a bus on the Friday before spring break to visit two college campuses. At Yakima Valley Community College, students learned more about the process involved in becoming a community college student as well as educational programs offered from admissions counselor Marivy Vasquez. Immediately following, the TRIO Student Support Services (SSS) adviser shared her own college journey and why she chose her career path. She then informed the students about programs like GEAR UP at the community college- SSS being one. Students who intend on transferring to a university, demonstrate an academic need and are either low-income or a first generation college student can apply for the program to help support them through the community college and onto the university. To demonstrate what it is like to be a college student and the skills necessary to be a successful college student, the adviser had an activity prepared for the students. The first task was to divide themselves into 5 groups of similar size including at least one boy and one student representative from each grade level. Once in groups, their objective was to complete tasks to gather the most points in a 5 minute time period. Students created paper ties, ran around the room showing spirit fingers, and did wall squats as a team. After determining the winner, the adviser asked what the students thought the 3 greatest things she wanted them to take away from the activity were. Teamwork, one student said; communication, another followed up with. The students offered excellent ideas, but the greatest idea she wanted to relay to them through the activity was time management. She said in order to be a successful college student you will have to make wise decisions about how best to use your time. In the activity students could choose to do a bunch of activities worth fewer points or a few more challenging activities worth greater points. Through the activity, students had to best decide how to use their time wisely. After the activity debrief, students learned a little more about what other supportive student services were offered and were able to get questions answered including whether or not YVCC has a marine biology program, if they take students who had an Individual Education Plan (IEP) in high school, and what the minimum GPA they need is. After a quick tour of campus, we loaded back onto the bus.
After lunch in Yakima, the bus headed to Central Washington University (CWU) in Ellensburg. Before starting the campus tour students were able to explore the student bookstore where current KiBe students ran into a KiBe High School alumnus who is currently a CWU student. This was very exciting as current students were able to learn about his experience in college, see how he had changed and grown, and saw in the flesh that students from Benton City do go to universities. Not having much time at CWU, the students split into two groups and took an expedited tour of the campus. After, students met the admissions counselor who would be reviewing their applications. He shared his educational journey. Coming from immigrant parents who lived in Yakima, their goal for him was that he should graduate from high school. Knowing that he could do that by achieving the bare minimum, he didn’t live up to his full potential his freshman year of high school. He soon realized he could do better and did so. Still, when he graduated, he decided to go to work immediately to help his family make money. He didn’t think his family would be able to pay for college off minimum wage. After working for a while, he realized that although he was making good money, he would not be able to sustain a good life for himself with his minimal education working in that position, so he applied to college. He shared how important the personal statement can be in that he was able to explain his questionable academic record to the admissions counselor through his own personal statement. After sharing his story, he shared admissions information and the top reasons why students choose CWU-proximity to home, affordability, and academic programs.
KiBe GEAR UP students returned to KiBe realizing they are not alone in the pursuit to attain their goals and dreams. As the dean of student services at YVCC mentioned, there are many resources available, but the students need to take advantage of opportunities and learn to advocate for themselves. They need to make it known to campus employees what they need to be successful.
On March 16, 2015, thirty eager Kiona-Benton High School GEAR UP students boarded the bus to Washington State University Tri-Cities to participate in College Planning Day. Students were excited to learn about colleges they were interested in. At the event, students attended multiple thirty minute sessions with college representatives including Eastern Washington University, Washington State University, University of Washington, and Central Washington University.
The students were excited to receive a WSU Tri-Cities reusable bag upon entering the event and were quickly escorted to the sessions of their desire. GEAR UP staff attended the sessions and learned that seniors interested in Central Washington University, Western Washington University, and Eastern Washington University could still apply.
The students took away from the event information regarding college entrance requirements, cost of college, acceptance rates, and an overall feeling of university life without having to travel too far. Students enjoyed the event and learned a lot of useful information that will help them apply to colleges in the future. Many sophomores even walked away feeling motivated to do well in high school because they found a university they would like to attend upon high school graduation!