A federal program encouraging economically challenged high school students to pursue higher education through Texas A&M International University is now searching for mentors ready to share their professional experiences with college-bound minds.
The GEAR UP program, housed at TAMIU, is inviting the community to participate in the mentorship program that will entail meeting with students at Alexander and Nixon High Schools and providing them guidance on college preparation and career paths.
Beatríz Salinas, GEAR UP director, said a total of 20 mentors are needed to provide 15-minute sessions in a classroom setting twice a month for one semester starting in January.
"Mentors can be anybody who is ready to talk about college or their profession. They can be an architect or a lawyer or anyone who is willing to provide guidance to these students," Salinas said.
Participating in this program can also open a new door to community newcomers who would like to familiarize themselves with Laredo school systems and contribute their knowledge to the local youth, Salinas said.
"A lot of the GEAR UP students are first-generation college students, which means that no one in their family has gone to college," said Dr. Julio Madrigal, program administrator, "Some of them are also first- generation immigrants and need to find out what resources are available for them to plan for their future. These students need information to start thinking about their careers."
Salinas said another way mentors can help is by serving as contacts between GEAR UP and organizations in which they work so that necessary funds can be raised to establish the GEAR UP scholarship program.
"We need people to help us network to find out about different ways to raise scholarship funds," Salinas said. By the end of the grant period, in 2005, this program will offer five $1,000 scholarships and five full scholarships to eligible members of the cohort who wish to attend TAMIU."
For further information about the GEAR UP mentorship program, please contact Salinas at 326-2766, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit offices located in the Student Center, room 126D. University office hours are 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.