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Region One ESC GEAR UP builds community connections, leaders through interactive mentorship event

The Region One Education Service Center (ESC) GEAR UP Program promoted post-secondary awareness and leadership among over 250 male members of its 12th grade cohort during an all-day leadership event held Sept. 12, 2023 at Kiskeya Athletics, a multi-disciplinary athletic facility in Pharr.

The event was part of the program’s Together in Education for Success experience, a series of male mentorship symposiums.

Region One ESC GEAR UP STEM Specialist Ernesto Gonzalez said the initiative is about building ties between students and leaders who grew up in the region.

“TIES introduces young men to professionalism and career exploration through student-mentor dialogue,” Gonzalez said. “Through guided learning experiences and activities, students gain a better idea of what they would like to pursue in their post-secondary education. They also get to have fun while doing it.”

Sharyland ISD Software Specialist Alfonso Mendoza, a GEAR UP TIES mentor, said the event is important because it helps motivate first-generation students.

“We have to show students that anything is possible and there are a lot of opportunities in the region,” Mendoza said. “Additionally, we must inform students that there are a lot of organizations that are also willing to help.”

Students also practiced their communication skills through team games and activities.

“I plan on becoming an aerospace engineer after I graduate,” said Antonio Fernandez, a senior at Los Fresnos High School. “Although I struggle with math, GEAR UP helps me by inspiring me with perseverance and discipline.”

Special thanks are extended to presenters from H-E-B, Qube Hotel Group, Remax Elite, SA Recycling, Sharyland ISD, South Texas College, SPAW Glass, STX Energy Services, Texas A&M University, Texas Army National Guard, Texas Instruments, Texas State Technical College, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Marine Corps and Workforce Solutions.

Region One ESC GEAR UP will host another TIES event for students on Sept. 19, 2023 at the Max Municipal Golf Course in Laredo.