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December 14, 2012
By Tovah Goodman
Jafeth Sanchez is the new research assistant with the College of Education with a focus on the Gear Up program.
From a young age I knew that I wanted to be a teacher or in some way be able to make a difference in others' lives. I remember being in second grade and staying after school to help my teacher grade papers and I just felt so rewarded. From that point on, I just did things that made me academically involved. Part of my love for education was instilled by my family, but I also credit the education system. Having my teachers be role models made a big impact in that progress. I thought that by going into education I could be the same one day to someone else.
Before coming to the University for my research role, I taught at Hug High School, which is a Title I school, so it seemed like the perfect setting for being able to impact other students and serve as a role model, especially with my background being similar to theirs. During my doctoral studies, I was here, and I worked with the Nevada State GEAR UP, so I had hoped that I would be able to come back to it in one way or another.
My role is the perfect bridge between middle school, high school, and college because I'm able to "follow" students throughout the duration of the GEAR UP grant.
One piece that is new to this GEAR UP grant, which is in its third round, is that we have college and university ambassadors and that hadn't happened in the past grants. There was a push to target seventh grade students to start thinking about college and they received extensive academic and support services for college preparation. The results from this attempt were impactful but still weren't at the level that we expected or had hoped. One of the missing links turned out to be the pull and encouragement from higher education-getting in direct contact with the students and providing additional preparation needs. For this grant, every NSHE institution has a GEAR UP ambassador now or is in the process of hiring one. The K-12 education system is going to be the push and the higher education system is going to be the pull.
One of the goals for the grants, which I will be looking into this year, is to increase the college-going culture at the middle schools in particular. Is there a college-going culture? How can we identify if it's been created? If it is created, is it being sustained for the next seven years? Even though these GEAR UP students will progress, we hope the impact will remain for the students who aren't GEAR UP students.