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.