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Region One ESC GEAR UP Kicks-Off Family Engagement Initiative

The Region One Education Service Center (ESC) GEAR UP Program equipped over 100 family members of its 12th grade cohort with the knowledge and resources to facilitate the college transition during an all-day event held Aug. 29, 2023 at the Quinta Mazatlan World Birding Center in McAllen.

Marking the start of their 2023-2024 Family Engagement Initiative, the Region One ESC College Ready, Career Set! project provided participants with information on the college application process, social-emotional wellness, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the Texas Application for State Financial Aid (TASFA).

The initiative is the pinnacle of Region One GEAR UP’s capacity building efforts, as parents are tasked with sharing the acquired information and resources with others at their respective campuses.

“We want families to feel supported and confident in their student’s ability to self-advocate and navigate the college transition process,” said Alicia Ortega, Region One ESC GEAR UP Education Specialist.

To address the anticipation of students’ upcoming post-secondary transition, parents were taken on a guided wellness walk throughout the birding center.

Guillermo Treviño, father of Mercedes ISD senior Andrea, said the event provided valuable insight on how to best support his child.

“My biggest fear has always been saying goodbye to my daughter as she leaves to pursue her education,” Treviño said. “The group reflections during the walk reminded me to feel confident in putting her future first.”

Zapata County ISD parent Claudia Garza said the tools will help her daughter gain a step ahead in her post-secondary endeavors.

“I’m making a difference in my child’s education by participating in this GEAR UP event,” Garza said. “In addition to the information provided, I enjoy making connections with other parents from across the region and learning from their experiences.

Throughout the school year, the Region One ESC GEAR UP: College Ready, Career Set! project will continue to serve the families of its 12th grade cohort by focusing on the social-emotional component of the post-secondary transition.