In the News

Andrea Garcia from Brownsville and Jonathan Garcia from San Benito have been chosen for the highly competitive GEAR UP Alumni Leadership Academy (GUALA), Class of 2016. The GUALA program identifies students with exceptional leadership potential and provides additional training and tools to help them more effectively engage their peers, schools, and community in creating a college-going culture.
GEAR UP, or Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, is a federally funded college readiness and success program that provides services to approximately 551,000 students in low-income schools across 43 states and 1 territory. This region is served by the Region One ESC Ready, Set, College! Partnership, which operates out of the Region One Education Service Center, and serves 10,500 students.

In order to better support the GEAR UP mission nationwide, the National Council for Community and Education Partnerships (NCCEP) created the GUALA program, with the support of the Kresge Foundation. GUALA works to advance the college and career readiness in communities by providing 12 months of training for Alumni Leaders on topics related to peer-to-peer outreach and mentoring, social media engagement, public speaking, and education policy.

Both students will participate in the year-long GUALA training program in order to better serve their GEAR UP community. As part of the program, they will travel to Washington, DC for a week-long intensive leadership training, where they will interact with national policymakers and leaders.

Andrea Garcia, a 2011 graduate from Hanna High School, embodies a servant’s heart. Her willingness to give back to her community through the Region One ESC Ready, Set, College! Partnership spans from serving in the local, state and national level. One of the areas of service she enjoys is the GEAR UP mentoring program where she mentors high school students to think about college and talk about the many opportunities that are available to serve in the community while attending the university.

Jonathan Ray Garcia, a 2011 from San Benito High School, has been on the Dean’s list three times at Texas State University, was Mr. Bobcat 2012, and is the current head cheerleader at Texas State University, and a recipient of the 2015 Libero of the Year award for the Southern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association. Jonathan Ray Garcia has built up a rather remarkable list of accomplishments since his high school days but the 21-year-old is far from finished.

For more information about the Region One ESC Ready, Set, College! Partnership, contact Dr. Tina Atkins at (956) 984-6220 or visit the website at

To learn more about GUALA, please contact Alex Chough at NCCEP at (202) 530-1135 or

Source: Monitor