Ryan Mandado, who has been part of a college outreach and postsecondary education initiative for almost a decade, has a passion for education that goes beyond his studies in school.
The University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa junior is one of 30 students who were selected to be part of the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs’ Alumni Leadership Association recipients to represent GEAR UP Hawai ‘i in Washington, D.C. Mandado is also in the Alumni Leadership Academy for GEAR UP, a 12-month program designed to train GEAR UP alumni in advocacy and leadership.
Ryan Mandado (fourth from left) is a graduate of Farrington High School.
GEAR UP is a federally funded, college outreach/postsecondary education initiative that began in 1998 under the U.S. Department of Education and is the largest college outreach program in the nation, with more than 600 high-school students from the GEAR UP – Waipahu cohort, according to Erwin Legaspi, Director of GEAR UP – Waipahu. Its mission is to increase the number of low-income middle- and high-school students who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education, according to the GEAR UP Hawai‘i website.
Mandado’s role at GEAR UP – Waipahu is to “serve as a GEAR UP Alumni Leader advocating on our behalf to state representatives and senators, and also promoting GEAR UP nationally to our Congressional delegation on Capitol Hill,” Legaspi said.
“GEAR UP Alumni Leaders such as Ryan Mandado help to advocate on our (GEAR UP’s) behalf to our Congressional delegation and local representatives so that they are aware of what GEAR UP does and its benefits and also to protect the programs from further spending cuts so that we may continue to provide services for our underrepresented populations,” Legaspi said.
Mandado has been part of GEAR UP for almost a decade and was emailed by Legaspi of the leadership position in Washington, D.C.“I thought it would be a great way to give back to a program that has helped me throughout my high school career,” Mandado said in an email interview. “When I get back, I want to be available for the students and help guide them to apply for the University of Hawai‘i.”
Mandado is involved in various clubs and organizations at UH, such as the Associated Students of the University of Hawai‘i, Regent and Presidential Scholars and GEAR UP.
“Being part of GEAR UP has developed my passion for helping high school students tackle that fear of the college application process as well as paying for college,” Mandado said.
While working with GEAR UP – Waipahu, Mandado wants to help high-school students find their passions and practice them at UH. He also wants to give back to a program that allowed him to succeed in college.
“If it wasn’t for GEAR UP, I would not know how to pay for college because of my family’s financial situation,” he said. “Thanks to GEAR UP I was directed in the right places to look for financial aid, and I am glad to know that I will graduate college debt free.”