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Gear Up aiding Selma students

Giving Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (Gear Up Alabama) is an initiative of the University of Alabama at Birmingham that serves approximately 9,981 students across the Black Belt region.

Four Selma High students have taken advantage of the program and all it has to offer.

Travion Johnson, Torri Moore, Nyabinghi Robinson and Trinity Rivers all rising juniors at Selma High School are participants in the Gear Up program. Each of them have their very own perspective of the benefits of the initiative and what they have learned so far.

Louretta Wimberly, the Selma High School sight facilitator for the program introduced Gear Up to the students, according to Johnson.

“She told us about all of the opportunities Gear Up offered.  She told us how we would be able to visit a lot of colleges,” Johnson said.

The program has been following the students since they were seventh-graders, providing them free ACT prep with Kaplan study materials, mentoring, college tours, job shadowing and field trips.

According to Johnson, the program helps students mature and gain a sense of responsibility.   

“It helps us with responsibility, and it helps us become more independent,” Johnson said. “It gets us prepared for when we actually got to college because nobody’s going to watch over you and make sure you complete your work when you go to college.”

Much like Johnson, Moore said she has enjoyed taking the college courses and learning more about the responsibilities and all that being a college student entails. She said the program not only gives her a head start academically, but for basic college knowledge as well.

“When I go to college, I will already know what I’m supposed to be doing for school,” Moore said.

Even with the additional course load, she has been doing great so far.

Robinson, much like the other students, is learning more about the college life.

“I’m learning a lot about college that I haven’t thought of before,” Robinson said. “I’m looking forward to learning new subjects that will force me and challenge me to become a better scholar.”

Rivers said the program is a lot of fun and she is happy to be a part of it.

Dr. Samantha Briggs, project director for Gear Up Alabama, said the students are taking the classes on a merit based scholarship from the school.

“UAB is scholarshipping students who have a 20 or higher on the ACT or a 3.0 or higher GPA,” she said.

Gear Up Alabama carefully chooses the professors that have a reputation for being good and interactive instructors. According to Briggs, the staff is also encouraged to remember that even though these students are taking college courses they still may need some guidance. She said this is new to a lot of them, and Gear Up Alabama provides a safe guard for students before they go off to college after high school.

“It’s paving a way for them,” she said. “A lot of these students will be first generation college students, so we are trying to get them comfortable with a college process and let them know it’s not scary. It’s something they all can accomplish.” 

Briggs said the students are to be commended for taking on college courses along with being full-time high schoolers as well.