Welcome to the GEAR UP office at John Liechty Middle School. We serve the classes of 2024 and 2025 with the goal of increasing college and career readiness for our students. Our mission is to empower our GEAR UP students and their communities to realize their potential and turn dreams into diplomas. We achieve this by delivering a high-quality and comprehensive array of services including parent/student workshops, field trips, tutoring, counseling, peer mentoring and academic advising. Our office is located in Room 329 and is open Monday-Friday from 7:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m. We welcome our GEAR UP students and families to our office with open arms. Please stop by to see us!
- Contact GEARUP
- Room 329
- Office Phone: (213) 989-1259 Cell Phone: (213) 760-8267
- College: Occidental College
- Favorite Movie: Belly
- Favorite Food: Buffalo Chicken
- My biggest influence: As a person with a deep interest in philosophy, the biggest influence on my thoughts, my worldview, and my morals, is Karl Marx.
- Why I love my job: I love my job because I believe in the power of the GEAR UP Equity Warrior. I believe that for true equity we need to even the scales by empowering our students to earn degrees and climb professional echelons, thus adding more diverse perspectives in decision-making positions and creating generational wealth in historically-marginalized communities.
- College: Rice University
- Favorite Movie: School of Rock
- Favorite Food: Tater tots
- Biggest Influence: My biggest influence was living in Mexico City for six years when I was in high school. I learned to see the world from a broader perspective and learned a new language and appreciation for a different culture.
- Why I LOVE My Job: I love the GEAR UP vision to break down barriers and empower
students and families. I love that every member of the GEAR UP family works together towards that vision every day.
- College: University of California, Riverside
- Graduate School: NYU & CSULA
- Favorite Movie: Cinema Paradiso, the sweetest movie ever!
- Favorite Food: I have so many! I love all things soups like Pho, Pozole, Menudo etc. But if I had to choose a specific cuisine it would be all things Asian and Mexican.
- My biggest influence: My mother is my biggest influence when it comes to my work ethic, my college counselor heavily influenced my desire to be a counselor, and my high school history teacher influenced me in pursuing a career in education. They are all wonderful influential women.
- Why I love my job: Because it’s the best! I get to help students reach their goal, and sometimes reach goals they never thought of. I love motivating students reach their potential and dream big!
Cindy Castro Vega
- College: UCSB
- Favorite Movie: Comedy movies
- Favorite Food: Honduran & Salvadoran food
- My biggest influence: My biggest influences would have to be my dad for teaching me to be hardworking, understanding, and humble & my younger brother for always believing in me, keeping me grounded, and giving me the motivation to persevere through hardships. I would not be the person I am today without their unconditional love and support.
- Why I love my job: Growing up in a low-income community in LA myself, and being a first-generation college graduate, I am aware of the struggles and the barriers that some of the students that we serve may face. I am passionate about empowering students who may have everything going against them but who I know can reach their goals and be successful with guidance and motivation.
Hali Chimil Rios
- College: Santa Monica College (A.A. Liberal Arts); University of California, San Diego (B.A. Communication)
- Favorite Movie: So many! Definitely Thriller/Suspense Genre
- Favorite Food: Mexican and anything with seafood
- My biggest influence: My parents are my biggest influences growing up. Regardless of their lack of knowledge about higher education they always encouraged me to pursue it and gave me their endless support. They motivate me to always work at becoming the best version of myself. Now, my high school Spanish teacher, Mrs. Martin, always looked out for her students and I was lucky enough to have her throughout my 4 years. She went out of her way and was more than just a teacher to me: she was my teacher, mentor and counselor. Because of her, I applied to college and began to envision myself attending and graduating from a university.
- Why I love my job: I have always seen myself working with students and college access, which is why I enjoy being an Academic Advisor. I am able to provide support, resources and mentoring to students from minority communities. Due to the nature of the program, I love the fact that I am able to be part of a student’s growth and journey towards higher education. I am always looking forward to creating a positive change in students’ lives!