GEAR UP Inspires Mother-Daughter Duo in their Educational Journey
CSU Long Beach's GEAR UP program is making a significant impact on students and their families in the Norwalk La Mirada community. With a focus on increasing college and career readiness for middle school students, GEAR UP provides comprehensive educational services promoting academic excellence, career fulfillment, and personal growth for students and families. Specifically, Long Beach GEAR UP is focused on increasing high school graduation and college enrollment rates for Norwalk La Mirada classes of 2027 and 2028.
Christina Romero, the mother of eighth-grader Hailey Rodriguez at Waite Middle School, is one of the many parents who have seen the benefits of GEAR UP firsthand. Christina's own educational journey was challenging, but she was determined to show her children the importance of education and is in the process of finishing her own college degree.
“One thing that motivated me to go back to college was my children,” Christina shared. “I wanted to be able to care for them and give them the life that they deserve and show them that no matter how hard your situation is you can always overcome it. I always like to tell them if it was easy everybody would have a college degree.” With GEAR UP's support, Christina has been able to guide her daughter towards a college education.
Hailey, too, has been influenced by her mother's determination to complete her college degree and sees college as a path for achieving her dreams. Hailey shared, “My mom has told me so many times that I can do anything, and college will always get me that one step closer to whatever I want to be if I’m willing to work for it. I can’t say I ever thought about college but how determined she is has rubbed off on me when it comes to going for a college education.”
GEAR UP has provided Hailey with resources to develop an understanding of her future and the options available to her. “GEAR UP is an amazing opportunity that I can’t believe no group of students have been offered before. It’s opened my eyes and taught me that it’s not impossible to reach for the stars. And it helped me understand the process of trying to get into college, and how I can start preparing in high school and even sooner if I want to. It’s amazing to know that I will have support all the way through up until I go to college.”
GEAR UP's emphasis on family engagement is a crucial component of its success. By providing parents and families with the resources and support they need, GEAR UP is creating a community of learners that values education as a path to a better future. Christina expressed her gratitude to the program saying, “GEAR UP has helped me prepare my student for college by offering resources to help [her] develop an understanding of her future. Showing me options of different programs that are available for her and most importantly just being there and supporting her through this whole journey.”
During the 2022 – 2023 year, GEAR UP served a total of 1603 middle school students including many from underserved backgrounds (63.5% Latinx, 4.1% Black/African American, 3.9% Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, 2.2% Asian, and 1.5% American Indian/Alaska Native). With annual funding of $1.24 million for seven years, CSU Long Beach's GEAR UP program is poised to make a lasting impact on the lives of students and their families in the Norwalk La Mirada community.