ALAMOSA — GEAR UP, a program that has helped students in the San Luis Valley stay on track for furthering their education the past nine years, will be losing funding, GEAR UP Director Liz Tabeling-Garcia told a group of Adams State students this week.
GEAR UP stands for Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs. It is a program administered by the Colorado Department of Higher Education. Tabeling-Garcia works for the GEAR UP program and Colorado Challenge, which follows the students once they enter college.
For example, she makes contact with each of the students in the program throughout the semester to encourage them towards academic success and offer resources for them if they are falling behind.
“I have been with many of the students since eighth grade,” she said.
GEAR UP has been active in the Centauri and Alamosa schools.
Tabeling-Garcia assured the students the scholarships they had received through the program would not be affected, but they would no longer have the support they have received from her in the past.
She explained that 25 percent cuts to the federally funded GEAR UP program meant some of the GEAR UP programs would not be funded, and the one in the San Luis Valley would likely be one that would lose its funding. She added that there would be a future opportunity for another round of funding, which could result in enough funds to cover the Valley program, but at this point it looked like GEAR UP would y end locally at the end of the year.
She said she would know more at the end of September.
“We’ve been very lucky to have it all these years,” Tabeling-Garcia said.
Some of the students asked if there was anything they could do, such as circulating a petition, and Tabeling-Garcia said input would certainly carry more weight coming from the students.
“There is no more powerful voice than yours out there,” she told the students.
“I am not doing this for my job,” she added. “I will survive. I am concerned about everybody here.”
She said the rates of completion for college students in the program have remained high, and she is concerned that might change if the students did not have someone they could go to for encouragement and guidance.
“If that position is not here, are you going to survive, to make it?” Oneyda Maestas asked the students. “She does need your voice.” Maestas is the director of C.A.S.A. (Cultural Awareness Student Achievement) on the Adams State campus.
Maestas and other campus leaders described the services they could offer to the ASU students during the GEAR UP-sponsored meeting this week on campus.
“You need these people if I am not around to bug you,” Tabeling-Garcia told the students.
For example, Advising Director Deb Chapman, who was a first generation student, encouraged students to stop by the Student Success Center in the Neilsen Library.
“You guys who are first generation, you can do it,” she said, “and you who are not first generation, you can do it too.”
Toni Leach talked to the students about tutoring opportunities, both as recipients and tutors, through the Grizzly Testing Center.
“Our tutors are there to help you gain confidence,” she said.
Students can drop by for short-term assistance or ongoing, she explained.
The center also conducts testing, she added.
Liz Bosworth talked with students about the opportunities for involvement on campus.
“The more involved you are in school the more likely you are to succeed,” she said.
Bosworth said students could become involved through clubs, sports, student government and social activities like the Welcome Week events.
Maestas also invited students to the C.A.S.A. house where they could study in a home atmosphere and eat together. She specifically invited them to taste horno-baked bread and “capulin” (chokecherry) jam on September 8. She also teaches Zumba and Latin Dance classes and invited the students to those as well.
Joe Garcia from the counseling center also invited students to stop by for a one-time or ongoing visit if they needed someone to talk to. Out of about 1,800 students, approximately 1,300 dropped by the counseling center last year, he said.
Russell Shawcroft is involved with financial aid, which has offices at One Stop in the student union building as well as Richardson Hall. He reminded students that it is time to fill out their FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) forms and encouraged them to apply for as many scholarships and grants as possible because they might receive a scholarship simply by applying for it if there might was not much competition for it.
Roberta Taylor Hill, who serves as the one-stop at Trinidad State Junior College, encouraged students to stop by. She said she treats all of the students like they are her own children. She said TSJC and ASU have a good arrangement, and some students will start at TSJC and graduate at ASU.
She also encouraged students to “find something that you love to do and incorporate that into your degree.”
Kay Lewis with career services said she could help students take assessments that will help them find that career they will enjoy doing.
“We help you plan your path and how to get there,” she said.
In addition to academic staff, Alamosa Mayor Josef Lucero spoke to the students. Lucero is an Adams State alumni, veteran and businessman. He shared several words of wisdom such as:
• Be true to yourself
• Say what you mean and mean what you say
• Learn from your mistakes
• Be open to new concepts, adventures and ideas
• Study hard and do not be distracted by alcohol and drugs
• Don’t lose your focus
• Value your relationships especially your family
• The burdens of today will seem a lot lighter tomorrow
• Once in a while stop and smell the roses
• Have the courage to never let your praying knees get lazy; have a healthy spiritual life
• Listen to elders, because there is much wisdom in mature people