Area GEAR UP students participate in Tour of Texas


WILBURTON, OK (Sept. 29, 2017) – GEAR UP team members and 96 high school seniors recently boarded two buses (one leaving from McAlester and one from Poteau) for an exciting three–day “Tour of Texas,” designed to expose students to new opportunities. The tour highlighted Texas Instruments (TI) and two top universities in Texas.

The first day of the trip found students traveling to College Station, Texas. Early the next morning, students arrived at Texas A&M (about 90 miles northwest of Houston and within a two- to three-hour drive from Austin and Dallas). The main campus is home to over 59,000 students, with more than 436,000 former students worldwide. With more than 130 undergraduate degree programs, 170 master's degree programs, 93 doctoral degree programs and 5 first professional degrees as options for study, Texas A&M is full of possibilities. Ranked 1st in Texas in 4, 5 and 6-year student graduation rates—both overall and for minorities, and 1st nationally in “Great Schools You Can Actually Get Into” list, TAMU is dedicated to sending Aggie leaders out into the world prepared to take on the challenges of tomorrow.

The next stop was Baylor University (BU). A private Christian university and a nationally ranked research institution, Baylor provides a vibrant campus community for more than 15,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. With 3,625 new students in the fall of 2014, 74 percent of entering freshmen were in the top 25 percent of their high school graduating class. Thirty–five percent of the freshman class are minority students and 90 percent of Baylor students receive some form of financial assistance. BU offers 144 undergraduate degree programs, 74 master's programs and 33 doctoral programs.

The final day found students at the Texas Instruments Fabrication Plant in Dallas. During the tour, TI Grant Partnership Consultant Eric Batten explained the intricate part TI plays in the current technology world. TI is currently in 35 countries and supplies mechanical parts for many of our everyday technology items including: cell phones, cars, refrigerators and televisions.

The students, led by T3 Regional Instructor Cassie Whitecotton, experienced new activities using the TI N-Spire handhelds and Innovators that GEAR UP has supplied to partner schools participating in the MathForward and Science BOOST programs.

During “The Heart Beats” activity, students coded a program that simulated the contraction of a human heart using only the TI equipment, wires and Play-Doh. Students viewed TI personnel’s working stations and learned the importance of semiconductor clean rooms.

“I thought it was cool how the whole TI factory was put together and was top priority,” said Sierra Mahar from Spiro.

Students felt right at home in Texas and many talked about careers in engineering and possibly attending the universities visited.

Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) is a federal grant program designed to meet the needs of low–income, underserved, and underrepresented students in geographically–isolated, rural schools in six southeastern Oklahoma counties. Eastern was awarded $12.6 million grant over a seven–year period to serve a cohort of students in 30 partner schools.

Attending the event were: Antlers: Sabrina Cole & Corbin Owens; Atoka: Shawn Conaway, Laci Heflin, Kelsie Morgan, Madison Orico, Brylee Reasor & Lillie Thomas; Bokoshe: Maja Dunkel & Joseph Stevenson; Buffalo Valley: Pablo Bascoy, Briar Coats, James Hiriams & Alexandra Ma; Canadian: Tyler Gorbet, Madison Martin, McKaelynn Reed-Binder, Jenna Russell & Karisa Sizemore; Clayton: Jayden Freeman, Luke Mallett & Christian Scarberry; Crowder: Aurora Buss, Olivia Rolland & Kaytlen Sennett; Haileyville: Jessica Gibson & Emily Turman; Hartshorne: Kylee Baldwin, Danielle Enriquez, Alexis Lyons, Cherokee Madden & Preston Stoliby; Indianola: Paul Clark, Anna McNeil & Kolten Peloquin; Keota: Jerry Hurt, Jarred Rowe & Noah Turner; McAlester: Emma Alexander, Martin DeLaGarza, Thomas Delcid, Erickson Giles, Cascha Ham, Kaitlynn Helmer, Emerald Lynn, Colton McEachern & Brayden McKelvey; McCurtain: Matthew Blaylock, Trace Murdock & Wade Restine; Panama: Kaylia Coleman, Maddison Colwell, Makenzie Colwell, Lane Crouch, Kyle Green, Dylan Rodgers, Victoria Ryan & Bayleigh Wilson; Panola: Doralynn Cox & Arianna Garcia; Quinton: Bobby Brennan & Micah Maxwell; Rattan: Jacob Baze, Michaela Cayton, Desarae Jordan, Shania Lawrence, Courtney Legg & Johnathen Shores; Savanna: Alyssa Osborn, Cody Smith, Hannah Wingo & Kayla Wood; Spiro: Jaden Brown, Jaden Jones, Madison LeFlore, Sierra Mahar, Katrina McClain, Jayden Potter, Joelle Reinl, Chloe Rogers, Darian Sharp & Kaylie Smith; Stringtown: Coben Humphrey & Jaden Parsons; Wilburton: SahRena Boyett, Journey Dees-West, Hailey Prock, Allison Sellers, Madison Shook, Sierra Smith & Jordan Stanford; GEAR UP Team Members: LaDonna Baldwin, Brianna Brassfield, Natalie Kennedy, Rachael Ranallo, Shawna Smith, Dara Self, John Spiegel & Tara Stevens.

Eastern Oklahoma State College GEAR UP students at Texas A&M University-Commerce.

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