Students Train to Become Peer College Mentors During PAL

GEAR UP Peer Mentors boosted their higher education knowledge and laid the foundation for becoming future peer college mentors during the two-day Peer Academic Leadership (PAL) conference held at UCLA.

In partnership with the Chicano-a Latino-a Educational Foundation (CLEF), PAL provided peer mentors with information on postsecondary opportunities and extensive training on how to support themselves and their peers as peer academic counselors.

They learned about the four systems of higher education, choosing a college, meeting graduation and college entrance requirements, completing college applications and researching financial aid resources.

Putting their newly gained expertise into practice, students were given transcripts to evaluate and tasked with brainstorming recommendations they would give to students based on Cal State and UC eligibility requirements. They were also tested during a fun college feud competition, followed by a panel of PAL staff who shared their academic and personal college experiences.

“Everyone is really kind and welcoming and they help us get ahead in many things to prepare for our future.”

Andrea Mejia, #GEARUPworks junior at Belmont High School

“GEAR UP presented a lot of information for me, which I really liked because I didn’t know a lot of things about college, which I find very helpful for many students,” Andrea added.

This year, CLEF will award $10,400 in scholarships to 52 PAL students who complete an application, which includes topics covered during the conference – transcripts, a resume and an answer to a UC Personal Insight Question (PIQ) – setting them up for future scholarship opportunities.

“In my eyes, students participating in the PAL Conference have the opportunity to participate in one of the highest forms of leadership a high school student can have: Leading, caring, and supporting their peers in the college admissions process,” said Hugo Cristales, who leads CLEF and serves as the associate director of the UCLA Early Academic Outreach Program (EAOP).

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