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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    McKale Center event to rally college interest

    The UA and Pima Community College will be encouraging middle school students to stay in school and prepare for college when they attend a rally today in the McKale Center.

    GEAR UP, Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, is a six-year college readiness program that mentors the students until their high school graduation, said Nancy Singer, GEAR UP director.

    “”The focus this year is on the middle school-to-high school transition and how that will help prepare for a future college education,”” Singer said.

    GEAR UP has been working with the students in the Tucson Unified and Sunnyside school districts since they were in sixth grade, but this is the first time a back-to-school rally is being held, bringing all the students together in one venue, Singer said.

    “”Our goal at the rally is to show the students they’re part of a larger project – it’s not just their school,”” Singer said. “”We want to motivate them and encourage them to take responsibility for the choices they make.””

    Seth O’Brien from 93.7 KRQQ will emcee the event, which will start out with a pep rally recognizing each of the schools, Singer said. The UA cheerleading squad and Wilbur the Wildcat will help cheer on the students and get them excited about embarking on their future goals.

    “”The cheerleaders’ presence there is as ambassadors for the university, showing the kids how to be active leaders and role models and to help promote higher education and goals past high school,”” said Jennifer Goldman, head cheer and mascot coach.

    Motivational speaker Leon Quan will talk to the students about the ways in which they’re responsible for shaping their future, Singer said.

    GEAR UP provides middle and high schools with tutors and mentors, summer enrichment programs, college coaches who give monthly presentations in eighth-grade classrooms, and a math and mariachi program, which is offered at Wakefield and Apollo middle schools, Singer said.

    Singer said the students are not obligated to attend the UA, but are greatly encouraged to go to college anywhere.

    Daniela Saylor, a sophomore majoring in creative writing and marketing, currently attends the UA on a GEAR UP scholarship.

    She participated in GEAR UP’s Nogales, Ariz., program during middle school and high school and said she probably wouldn’t be at the UA if it weren’t for the program.

    “”It’s not normal in my family to go to college,”” Saylor said. “”I’m
    the first.””

    While participating in GEAR UP, Saylor said she went on field trips to the UA and Arizona State University.

    “”They didn’t ask you to get too involved and dedicate your life to the program, and we always did fun activities,”” Saylor said.

    Saylor said she always enjoyed volunteering at community service events and was encouraged to participate more when GEAR UP representatives told her about scholarship opportunities.

    “”It’s a really great scholarship to have and a fun program to be a part of,”” she said.

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