Eastern Oklahoma State College GEAR UP students, chaperones & staff tour universities and San Francisco before attending the 2017 NCCEP/GEAR UP Youth Leadership Summit


WILBURTON, OK (Aug. 1, 2017) – Twenty–six students, chaperones, and GEAR UP team members recently attended the 2017 NCCEP/GEAR UP Annual Conference and Youth Leadership Conference in San Francisco. The excitement began as YLS students, chaperones and GEAR UP team members toured four universities and the San Francisco area.

The group met a tour bus at the San Francisco International Airport. Led by EXPLORE Colleges Executive Director Kathie Boozer, the first stop was the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Students saw the Pacific Ocean for the first time and walked along the mile-long sandy beach, rode both modern and classic thrill rides, and enjoyed the restaurants.

The second day found the group touring the University of California, Santa Cruz and Stanford University. With an undergraduate population of just over 15,000, The University of California, Santa Cruz, has earned national distinction as a university with high impact research and an uncommon commitment to teaching and public service.

“The University of California, Santa Cruz was my favorite,” said Canadian senior Jayton Gideon. “It was in some ways secluded from the bustle of the city life. On the campus, there was so much nature and it just took you away from the ‘trapped’ feeling you might experience in the middle of the big cities that surrounded it.”

Stanford University is in the heart of California's Silicon Valley and one of the world's leading teaching and research universities. Stanford is dedicated to finding solutions to big challenges and to preparing students for leadership in a complex world. With an undergraduate population of approximately 7000, Stanford University is one of the world's leading research universities.

“Stanford was my favorite,” added Spiro Senior Hailey Mendoza. “Their financial aid program was amazing and their campus was beautiful. I got a laid back vibe from the university, which I did not expect at all. I felt as if people actually had fun there instead of being stressed out all the time.”

Following the university visits, students were taken to Vista Point, a lookout over the San Francisco Bay, the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island. A local tour guide joined the group for a walking tour of Sausalito.

University of California, Berkeley, and the University of San Francisco were the next stops. UC Berkeley is known as the world's premier public university and a wellspring of innovation. It occupies UC Berkeley occupies a 1,232 acre campus with a sylvan 178-acre central core and 26,000 undergraduates.

“I am very interested in applying to UC Berkeley,” said McAlester senior Miguel Medrano. “I absolutely loved the campus and gained great knowledge on the campus and what it offers. This university has been on my list since I started my college search process and being able to walk around the campus is a wonderful opportunity.”

The University of San Francisco—a premier Jesuit university–is a reflection of the inclusive, inspirational, innovative city that surrounds it. USF provides students from all backgrounds an education that is intensely personal and intellectually demanding. Of the 6800 undergraduates, 36% are the first in their families to attend college and 69% of students receive financial aid.

“My favorite tour was definitely the University of San Francisco,” said Talihina senior Christina Martin. “I just thought that it was very informational.”

The group was then divided into two groups for walking historical tours of Chinatown.

The next day students boarded the tour bus early and traveled to Pier 39. They soon departed on a boat for Alcatraz Island. The small island was developed with facilities for a lighthouse, a military fortification, a military prison, and a federal prison from 1934 until 1963. In 1972, Alcatraz became part of a national recreation area and received designation as a National Historic Landmark in 1986. Afterwards, the students had a driving and walking tour of San Francisco that included Lombard Street (where the adventurous climbed to the top), the row of “painted ladies” houses used when filming Full House, and Twin Peaks.

The final tour before the 2017 NCCEP/GEAR UP Annual Conference began included the California Academy of Sciences. Based in Golden Gate Park, the California Academy of Sciences is a destination like no other and a must-see San Francisco museum. It’s the only place on Earth to house an aquarium, planetarium, and natural history museum—all under one living roof.

Students reported to the 2017 Youth Leadership Conference that evening and spent the next three days with 150 GEAR UP students from around the country.

Students were given opportunities to maximize and identify their individual leadership skills, create a supportive network of leaders with other GEAR UP students, launch discussions about issues that affect them and their schools every day, and receive the tools and training to create lasting, positive changes to improve their communities.

Following the conference, students toured the Presidio, where San Francisco began. Once a premier Army post, today the Presidio is a national park unlike any you have experienced before. This dynamic visitor destination is home to museums and food trucks, restaurants and recreational destinations, art installations, 24 miles of trails, and the best views of the Golden Gate in San Francisco. It is also a National Historic Landmark District.

The Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) is a federal initiative to increase the number of low–income students who enter and successfully transition into postsecondary education. Eastern is in its final year of a seven–year grant and will serve current seniors and first–year college students during the 2017–2018 academic year.

The Eastern Oklahoma State College GEAR UP tour group at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Pictured are: Front Row: Dara Self, Santa Cruz Tour Guide, Shawna Smith, Linda Morgan, Kathy Ramsey, Hailey Mendoza, Natalie Kennedy & Elizabeth Suarez. Middle Row: Sherri Parsons, LaDonna Baldwin, Tasia Brand, Kaitlyn Jones, Christina Martin, Noah Turner, Sherry Suratt, Kelly Crabtree, Jayton Gideon & Miguel Medrano. Back Row: Leigh Ann McKelvey, Brianna Brassfield, Rachael Ranallo, Jaden Parsons, Brayden McKelvey, John Spiegel, Preston Rowland, Michelle Birchfield & Tara Stevens.

The Eastern Oklahoma State College GEAR UP tour group at Stanford. Pictured are: Front Row: Jaden Parsons, LaDonna Baldwin, Kaitlyn Jones, Noah Turner, Preston Rowland & Brayden McKelvey. Second Row: Tasia Brand, Sherri Parsons, Michelle Birchfield, Christina Martin, John Spiegel, Jayton Gideon, Miguel Mendoza & Elizabeth Suarez. Third Row: Rachael Ranllo, Hailey Mendoza & Sherry Suratt. Fourth Row: Leigh Ann McKelvey, Kathy Ramsey, Brianna Brassfield, Dara Self, Shawna Smith & Tara Stevens. Back Row: Kelly Crabtree, Natalie Kennedy & Linda Morgan.

Eastern GEAR UP Youth Leadership Summit participants tour Berkeley. Pictured are: Front Row: Brayden McKelvey, Jayton Gideon, Miguel Medrano, Hailey Mendoza, Christina Martin, Kaitlyn Jones & Noah Turner. Back: Jaden Parsons.

GEAR UP students and chaperones tour the University of San Francisco. Pictured are: Front Row: Michelle Birchfield, Tasia Brand, Sherry Suratt, Sherri Parsons, Kelly Crabtree, Leigh Ann McKelvey, Preston Rowland & Elizabeth Suraez. Middle Row: Christina Martin, Noah Turner, Hailey Mendoza, Jayton Gideon, Miguel Medrano & Brayden McKelvey. Back Row: Jaden Parsons & Kaitlyn Jones.

Back to News Listing