GEAR UP Students Share Life Experiences in College Essays

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EDINBURG — GEAR UP students shared life experiences in their college entrance essays.

About 100 GEAR UP students from across the Rio Grande Valley attended a workshop designed to help them with their college application essays in Edinburg.

Not one student attending the four-day workshop thought it was a waste of time.

“It was actually very exciting,” student Ralia Cortina said. “I thought I was going to come and be like school and maybe learn and do something boring, but it was actually pretty exciting.”

The students were tasked with writing an essay to get into their college of choice. GEAR UP student Juliana Rodriguez said it was difficult to gather ideas for her essay, but writing coach Janine Robinson helped them out.

“Janine actually helped us a lot, trying to get stories that help us and help show our experience in a meaningful way,” Rodriguez said.

The students had to write an essay about a personal experience in their lives. Rodriguez wrote about a day that changed her life forever.

“My father wasn't feeling very well, so I had to drive him to the hospital when I was, like, 12,” she said. “I told my experience through that, and it was very scary to, like, write it down, to just, like, oh my gosh, how can I show them that’s how I was feeling that rush, that, like, my father was unconscious and I had to drive him.”

Ralia Cortina said she wrote a very personal essay about someone who meant so much to her.

“I told him I wanted to play basketball one time, and he said that when I was older, he would teach me how to play basketball with his own skills,” Cortina said. “Unfortunately, that day never came. That same year he went through a car accident.”

These GEAR UP students are sending their personal essays to their dream colleges thanks to Region One GEAR UP.

“Our goal is to have this refined essay that they can use for admissions, for scholarships, and they really share who they are,” said Norma McCormick, Region One ESC education specialist. “We know that's important, so we're happy that at this point in time, they are going to be able to upload their essays, do their online portfolio and they are going to have that ready to continue on their pathway. That's going to be great because they're juniors, and so their senior year, they will have everything ready that they need.”