GEAR UP Helps Photojournalist Prepare for Career

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WESLACO – A former GEAR UP student climbed the ranks and became a GEAR UP director. He’s now following his career goal as a photojournalist at CHANNEL 5.

It’s not easy being a photojournalist. They have to have a vision and be fearless when covering a news story. Former GEAR UP student, now photojournalist, Sergio Puente has those qualities.

He said GEAR UP prepared him for the job.

“It was because my GEAR UP director was always persistent and pushing me like keeping doing it, keep going and working hard, do what you need to do to get up there,” Puente said.

He graduated from Edinburg High School in 2011, and then, UTPA in 2015 with a degree in mass communications. A GEAR UP scholarship helped pave the way for his successful future.

Puente received a $27,000 scholarship for school. He said the program didn’t just help him financially, it also taught him leadership skills.

“I was one of the GEAR UP directors. We went to all these conferences across the Valley, because they would host them in McAllen and Brownsville. We would go with other schools and talk about what our schools are doing and what we are doing to help our classmates,” he recalled.

The leadership qualities are noticed by his colleagues at CHANNEL 5.

“We agree with that. We see nothing but motivation,” CHANNEL 5 Photojournalist Enrique Saenz said. “Every time he gets out there, he tries his hardest and you can tell by everything he does. He’s aiming to be the best and it makes me work a little harder too.”

CHANNEL 5 Meteorologist Samara Cokinos mentioned Puente also shows an interest in weather. “Anytime we have these really cool photos that come in, a lot of them are from him,” she said. “(It’s) always really cool to be able to connect with a photographer that’s also really interested in something that you are.”

Puente shared that one of his personal goals was met.

“I started out at another TV station… I’m very glad to be here with the number one TV station in the Valley, CHANNEL 5,” he said. 

You can catch GEAR UP segments on Thursdays on CHANNEL 5 NEWS at 5.