GEAR UP Students Learn to Write Admissions Essays

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EDINBURG — About 100 GEAR UP students from across the Rio Grande Valley wrapped up a workshop designed to help them with their college application essays.

“I’m so excited. Today is the culminating event, the workshop series sponsored by GEAR UP and the Texas Valley Communities Foundation called the College Essay Writing Project,” said Angela Delamar, education specialist at Region One ESC.

Students said they now know how to get the attention of college admissions officers. GEAR UP student Manolo Alvarez said he didn’t expect to learn what he did.

“Since we got here, we had a different idea about writing college essays, and what I’ve learned is that it’s better to write a story about you that will grab the college admission officer’s attention,” he said.

Alvarez said he wrote about an experience when he was teaching a young girl.

“I was getting frustrated teaching the stuff, and in the end, I learned that we all process things differently and how sometimes that happens to me too,” he said.

Desirae Ponce, a GEAR UP student from Rio Hondo High, said the essay writing workshop had her feeling more confident about getting accepted to the college of her choice.

“Before the seminar, I hadn’t really realized how fast college was approaching and how important writing essays was, but this really opened my eyes to that” Ponce said. “It's given us a better opportunity in getting accepted into those high, I guess, level colleges and setting us apart from each other. It just really showed how we really represented ourselves more than just ordinary people.”

Alicia Wooderson, an English AP teacher at Veterans Memorial High in Brownsville, said the four-day workshop taught her a thing or two about writing admissions essays.

“For me, this has been a great eye opener,” the AP teacher said. “This is what they really want to see in the universities, in their essays. Right now, we already have a unit planned and how we're going to have them write. We're going to take what we have learned here and impart to all of our other students as well.”