GEAR UP Families Explore University Life

For the first time in over two years, GEAR UP 4 LA families had the opportunity to visit a four-year university in person, walk the campus grounds, hear from college students and staff, and explore the higher education opportunities available to their children.

Dozens of families spent a Saturday at Cal State Los Angeles, where learned about the services and amenities available at the university, just a short distance away, as part of GEAR UP’s parent college field trip experience.

“We really recommend this program and for parents to become involved because this is really great information,” said Carolina Ponce, a GEAR UP parent at Huntington Park High School. “It will change your children’s future if you participate. Take advantage, students. You’ve won the lottery with this program.”

Throughout the year, GEAR UP has provided families with virtual financial aid and college knowledge workshops. The college visit on May 14 allowed families to expand on their familiarity of California State Universities (CSU) – one of California’s four systems of higher education – in person.

“Our goal at GEAR UP is to foster a college-going culture among students and parents,” Family Engagement Facilitator Maria Cortez said. “Being on a college campus, parents feel connected, learn how to support their children, and brings their dream of going to college that much closer to reality.”

It will change your children’s future if you participate. Take advantage, students. You’ve won the lottery with this program.

Carolina Ponce, #GEARUPworks parent at Huntington Park High School

Families had breakfast in the dining hall, where they were greeted by Dr. Bianca Guzmán, director of the Pathways Programs Office at Cal State LA, which aims to increase college enrollment and graduation to support education, career, and life success.

Led by student guides and accompanied by Parent Education Support Assistants (PESAs), families learned about the campus’ history, services, and academic programs. They participated in presentations on financial aid, campus resources, and how to support their child’s college future. Families also had the opportunity to ask questions during a student and parent panel.

“It is so important for parents to engage in the process. For me, it’s so impactful to see that parents are communicating with each other to support their child going to college and have an understanding of what the college-going process is like, which opens their eyes to the possibility of higher education.”

Maria Cortez, GEAR UP Family Engagement Facilitator

Cal State LA’s virtual parent workshops this year have focused on how to plan for higher learning and academic success, services available for students with disabilities, and how CSUs can match a student’s academic needs while fitting their financial, personal, and social needs.

“I recommend GEAR UP. It’s very good,” said Irma Geronimo, whose child is a student at West Adams Prep. “I encourage parents to engage more with their children to seek out GEAR UP. They have supported me so much, and I feel very proud.”