GAINING EARLY AWARENESS AND READINESS FOR UNDERGRADUATE PROGRAMS (GEAR UP)

GEAR UP Students Explore Tri-Tech Programs & Beyond

Tri TechKiona-Benton GEAR UP partnered with Tri-Tech to take students to their open house event on January 29, 2015. At the event, students heard from Tri-Tech professionals about the various courses offered. Students also had a chance to meet with various colleges, STEM career professionals, and technical career professionals.

One unique opportunity students heard about was the internship and career pathways Bonneville Power Administration had to offer. Bonneville Power Administration is a federal, nonprofit agency that wholesales electrical power generated from different hydro projects (dams). The representative talked to our students about the increasing demand for engineers, accountants, information technology specialists, and fish and wildlife conservation specialists.

Tri TechAnother unique program students heard about was the company, Areva. Areva is a world leader in nuclear power and is based in Richland, WA. The representatives explained their job duties and answered all the various questions our students had.

Walla Walla Community College was on hand and explained in detail their John Deere and Diesel Technology programs. In partnership, the company RDO Equipment was on hand to explain how they hire new graduates coming from both of those programs. RDO Equipment also talked to students about tuition reimbursement once they are hired for their company.

All branches of the military were there to answer questions about the ROTC program and how students can use the military to earn their degree.

The Tri-Tech open house event also offered hands on experience for students. Ki-Be students explored construction trades and even got to work with some power tools under the supervision of other Tri-Tech students.

Overall, the event was a wonderful showcase of Tri-Tech’s programs and different career pathways the region has to offer.

KiBe Seniors Explore Transfer Options in the Spokane Area

On Friday, January 16, KiBe GEAR UP seniors, having just finished semester finals, boarded the bus in the morning relieved to be that much closer to graduation and excited to further explore their post-high school options.  Our overnight visit began with a visit to Spokane Community College (SCC).  At SCC, the seniors endured the cold as snow covered the ground around them to receive a campus tour.  Afterward, they had a presentation on meeting the different degree requirements and financial aid facts.  Students learned about how to utilize the SCC website in order to identify what classes at SCC transferred to the university of their choice.  Seniors were engaged and asked questions about various programs offered. 

After enjoying lunch at Panda Express, students were offered a wonderful presentation at Washington State University Spokane that included an admissions overview, breakout sessions with the nursing,
athletic trainer, and speech and language pathology programs, a student panel, and a hands-on look at what students in the nursing program do.  Students were divided into groups to hear from professors as well as students in the three programs.  Seniors were allowed to go into the nursing lab that housed many dummies.  They met Thelma, a patient, controlled by another person behind a window.  Thelma was as close to a human being as possible it seemed!  She breathed, had an identifiable pulse, blinked her eyes, talked, coughed, and even made guttural noises that could be heard with a stethoscope.  Students were invited to listen to her lungs and stomach with stethoscopes, check for her pulse, and even practice CPR when she stopped breathing!  The program WSU Spokane put together for the students went above and beyond to not only let the students hear about general information, but see and practice what it truly feels like to be a student there.

After an exciting, hands-on visit to WSU Spokane, students again boarded the bus, this time heading to Whitworth University.  At Whitworth, students learned what life at Whitworth might be like if they were attending Jan-term.  Snow covered the ground as we toured the campus learning about the option to attend a Jan-term class, which lasted 3 hours daily or to attend a Jan-term study abroad experience.  Upon completion of our tour around campus, students received further admissions information from a Whitworth alumnus, CJ Perry, who enjoyed his experience as a student so much that he now works for the university as an admissions counselor.  After eating dinner at Red Robin, which some students had never been to, we checked into the Ramada Inn at 8pm leaving the students 2 hours to enjoy the indoor swimming facilities at the hotel before lights out. 

On Saturday, after breakfast at the hotel, we ventured to Eastern Washington University (EWU) where we spent several hours not only learning about what EWU has to offer, but also general college selection information.  Randy Corradine, Diversity Outreach Coordinator at EWU, shared his family history, what it was like being the first in his family to attend college, as well as some of the things he learned from his mentor about choosing the right college.  Students were engaged as they were able to hear from someone whose experience they might be able to relate to or learn from.  Before leaving for the campus tour, Randy challenged the students to define “university.”  While the students came up with wonderful definitions, they were not quite what Randy was looking for, but he acknowledged the validity and power the students possessed in being able to come up with clear definitions in their groups.  After the campus tour, students ate lunch in Baldy’s Food Court among actual college students.  Figuring out how to discard their trays, plates, and trash proved to be a learning experience for the students—one that they were able to accomplish.  KiBe seniors then returned to the classroom to learn about how to best determine college fit using EWU’s VOCAL acronym (Value, Opportunity, Community, Academics, Location).  Randy emphasized that the students need to find the school that works best for them as individuals.  Randy also wanted the students to focus in on their dreams as he gave them a handout to identify their dream career along with 3 action steps they need to take in order to achieve that dream.  Following Randy’s presentation, Site Manager, Alyse Pivovarnik, and College and Career Planning Specialist, Ashley Myers worked with the students on how to navigate choosing classes at any college or university to ensure they are meeting the requirements to complete their degree.  After a quick pit-stop for dinner at the Pita Pit in Pasco, students were excited to be home.  Students reported that this trip opened their eyes to greater possibilities.  One student said she is now considering continuing her education beyond cosmetology school after having attended this trip while another said he is now more interested in EWU.   

KiBe GEAR UP would like to give a big thank you to Becki Meehan at WSU Spokane, Randy Corradine at EWU, Ramona Barhorst at Spokane Community College, CJ Perry at Whitworth University and KiBe GEAR UP’s own Ashley Myers for putting together a wonderful visit for the students!  

Kiona Benton GEAR UP Seniors Get Ca$h for College

On Monday, January 5th, Kiona Benton High School GEAR UP kicked off its series of four Ca$h for College events.  Rather than call the events “FAFSA Nights,” as done in the past, KiBE GEAR UP decided to make the events more relatable to all students and families by simplifying the title to “Ca$h for College.”  The events are designed to have open computer hours during which families of senior students can complete the FAFSA or WASFA with the assistance of GEAR UP staff.  In order to work around families’ busy schedules, GEAR UP at KiBe decided to stagger the four dates across different days of the week (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday).  Senior students and families were notified in various ways about the Ca$h for College events including through a mailed home flyer, flyers passed out to seniors, emails sent to parents and students, the Remind program, and phone calls home.  Much to the KiBe GEAR UP staff’s surprise, being that the 5th was a Monday and the day immediately following the conclusion of winter break, the computer lab was the fullest it has been during any of the evening GEAR UP events!  Some seniors ventured into the lab by themselves and others came with their parents and even younger siblings.  All attendees completed their FAFSA or WASFA and were informed about next steps.  GEAR UP also used this event as a time to share future college visits with families.  The event was a huge success and KiBe GEAR UP is looking forward to three more successful Ca$h for College events on January 13th, 21st, and 29th.  With these events, KiBe GEAR UP staff is hopeful that the majority of seniors will have their FAFSA or WASFA done by the February 15th Washington State priority deadline.   

Kiona Benton High School GEAR UP Amps Up the Traditional College Fair

On Friday, November 21, 2014, after countless hours of planning, Kiona Benton High School GEAR UP in partnership with the high school coordinated a refreshed version of their annual college fair. With the support of Kiona Benton’s new principal, Clay Henry, GEAR UP staff and high school counselors Kimm Minkler and Belinda Loy were able to put together a College and Career Day from 12:00pm-2:40pm that allowed GEAR UP students to not only visit with colleges through a traditional college fair setting, but also allowed students to further explore their interests in careers, different aspects of college, and military options. Students attended four, 35-minute sessions, one of which was the traditional college fair in the high school's performing arts center. The PAC was filled with various college options for the students to explore, including Washington State University Tri-Cities, University of Washington, Evergreen State College, Columbia Basin College, Big Bend Community College, Eastern Oregon University, and many more! During their other 3 sessions, students were able to choose from such topics as Engineering Careers, Computer Careers, Automotive Technology, Cost of College, Resume/Cover Letter, Agriculture Careers, Army, Marines, Air Force, National Guard, Police Department, Fire Department, and more! The event was very successful in that sessions were put together based on student interests. Thus students were able to explore topics pertinent to them. As opposed to having the event during the evening, which had been done in the past, having the event during the day ensured a captive audience as students were already at school, so why not participate! Despite some bumps in the day, the college and career day was such a success that Principal Henry is looking forward to putting on the event again next year! This is a sustainable activity that Kiona Benton High School can continue for years to come in order to maintain a college-going culture!

Kiona Benton High School Seniors Uncover More Potential Colleges

Nov 7On Friday, November 7, 2014, KiBe GEAR UP filled their first 23 passenger bus since Alyse Pivovarnik, Site Manager, started 10 months ago. With a complete change in staffing, KiBe GEAR UP has been trying to gain momentum and turn their program into a more college-going rather than high school completion program. This day was monumental in the eyes of the staff as more students are beginning to understand the importance of visiting college campuses!

At 5:45am, before the sun had risen, students boarded the bus in front of KiBe High School, blankets and pillows in hand, to go on a whirlwind, one day college tour aimed at exposing the students to more college options!

nov 7First stop: Central Washington University. Students were able to explore Central in a more creative self-tour in the form of a scavenger hunt. As students will be soon navigating college campuses on their own, GEAR UP staff sent students on the hunt for important buildings on campus including a residence hall, the library, the financial aid office, and many more! KiBe students were able to feel the pressure of their first day of class on a big, new campus, and thus they learned the importance of getting to campus early, as well as attending welcome week events! Upon completion of the scavenger hunt-college style, students boarded the bus to head to University of Washington at Tacoma.

Prior to arrival, students were informed about the 3 different University of Washington campuses and the way their degree would read a “University of Washington” graduate regardless of the campus they attended. To our surprise, we were greeted by fabulous fall weather in Western Washington—not a single rain cloud in sight! Albeit a simple college tour, many seniors walked away interested in applying to UW Tacoma despite the fact they were not thinking about applying prior to their visit. Many students could tell through the one hour tour that they would feel comfortable calling UW Tacoma home for the next 4 or so years. To end the tour, students enjoyed the mystery of the echo circle, where you can stand and say something and only you will hear the sound echo! After visiting the student store and buying UW Tacoma swag, along with grabbing a quick bite at the local Pita Pit, students boarded the bus—Seattle Pacific University-bound!

nov 7At Seattle Pacific University, the group of students was divided for a tour to allow for a more intimate tour atmosphere. Students were wooed with chocolate chip cookies in the dining commons and later got to see the inside of a triple dorm room. Students at Seattle Pacific took pride in their school as they made positive comments to KiBe students as they walked by about why they should attend SPU. The tour guides both also had a natural enthusiasm for the campus and shared some of their favorite activities. One activity involves the boys each taking a girl from their sister floor out on a friendly date to allow for greater bonding and community. Many students again walked away from the short time on campus excited to continue their education armed with knowledge of another campus they want to apply to. One such student left the front of the group and said in a very serious manner, “Ms. P.” “What’s up,” site manager, Alyse Pivovarnik, responded somewhat concerned by the student’s serious tone. The student continued, “You need to help me apply here!”

After eating dinner on the road and completing their event feedback form, students were able to show the information they gained as Ashley Myers, College & Career Planning Specialist at KiBe, asked questions about the different campuses. For each correct answer, students received a prize collected through donations from community resources such as Gesa Credit Union and colleges. Some would say that those whirlwind, short tours of campus were not as effective as a more focused, in-depth tour and that may be so, but the amount of students that walked away feeling inspired and enthusiastic about continuing their education and even applying to the visited schools was plenty to impress KiBe GEAR UP staff. Doors were opened and dreams were created.

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