GEAR UP helps put students on career path

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - The GIPS GEAR UP program has been in their middle schools for about a year. Now students and teachers look back on that year and how it's benefited their futures.

Destiny Lucero does research in her class at Barr Middle School. (Credit: Alicia Naspretto)

For Destiny Lucero, an eighth grade student at Barr Middle School, the program is helping make her lifelong dream of opening a restaurant a reality.

"I've learned about different types of careers that different people have taken," Lucero said. "I've also learned about the colleges I am able to go to to learn about culinary and business degrees I could have."

GEAR UP aims to help kids like Destiny find those careers they want to pursue and set up a pathway to get there.

"We've been able to talk and say 'what do you like doing for fun' and start with the basics like that," Family, College and Career Specialist Asia Berg said. "Saying 'what do you want to be' is such a broad range. I try to figure what they truly do for fun and try to figure out how we can make that a career."

Through invention camps, college tours and job shadowing they've been able to get students at Barr and Walnut to think about their futures.

"All that hands on has just sparked interest in areas they didn't think they were interested in before," Berg said. "Some kids have decided from that I'm completely changing my major. It's just created a lot of more interested in their future and they see more of an end goal."

The school says this program fits really well with the high school's academies and their goal of having every child ready for graduation by the time it comes.

The schools also host sessions for the parents so they can also learn about financial aid and how to prepare for college.