By Ashley Conroy - email
JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - Governor Haley Barbour declared September 12th through the 18th as "Gear Up Mississippi Week" to recognize the program's efforts to help underprivileged children.
GEAR UP Counselor, Donna McLauren says the goal of GEAR UP is to help prepare students for college.
"It gives every child the opportunity, even those who thought they'd never be able to go to see that yeah, this is possible," McLauren said.
Ninth grade student at Callaway High School, Matthais Wilson says he thinks it's made a difference. "It did make me realize that I can improve and do better."
Students have the opportunity to visit college campuses and learn more about how to obtain scholarships.
"I was very excited to know I'd be going to different colleges," said Thomas Spann.
GEAR UP works with a cohort of state agencies, school districts, the Institutions of Higher Learning, and national and state non-profits to follow students starting in the 7th grade until graduation.
In addition, they encourage students to graduate as well as work with them to improve their ACT scores.
"They motivated me to let me know there's always someone out there who cares, who wants you to be the best you can be in life," student Jasmine Lott said.
The 8,900 GEAR UP Mississippi students are currently in the 9th grade spread out among 40 different schools across the state.
Wilson, Spann, and, Lott say they feel fortunate to be in the program, but want to share advice with other students who won't get a chance to participate.
"There could always be someone that could be like that GEAR UP, that could encourage them. Even though they may feel like it's not the right thing or that they're tired of school, you still should go because later on it pays off," Spann said.
"Don't wait until GEAR UP comes to you, you can actually keep on striving right now," Wilson said.
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