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GEAR UP 411 – Fall

GEAR UP Achievers celebrates two weeks of exciting and enriching residential summer camps: Husky Leadership Academy’s “Space Camp” and “The Science of Politics of Health.

Over 100 GEAR UP juniors across 5 of our high schools joined us to explore different STEM career pathways. Each camp, students stayed on University of Washington Seattle campus for 6 days, 5 nights. Students were able to experience life as a college student by taking STEM classes taught by university professors while living in the dormitory, dining at the university food halls while attending enrichment programs led by 12 GEAR UP College Mentors and staff. College Mentors were able to lead students to explore the diverse dining options at the “Ave”, enjoyed a night at the Hub Games, and built community through team building exercises. In the evenings, students participated in workshops to learn about the college-going process including choosing a college, major, and financial aid information. When reflecting on their experience with us this summer, one student mentioned, “Very educational and fun…new doors were opened for careers and majors…. I would recommend GEAR UP camp.” These camps not only provided valuable insights but also left lasting memories that will continue to inspire and shape their future.

UW Summer Programs

Space Camp

GEAR UP Achievers worked alongside the Northwest Earth & Space Sciences Pathways (NESSP) for SPACE CAMP, a summer camp inspired by the Artemis Mission and was focused on hands-on learning of science & engineering process. NESSP serves as a NASA hub in the Pacific Northwest to strengthen STEM education region-wide and enhance NASA educational materials for middle and high school students (

During the Space Camp, students were engaged in a series of hands-on missions including learning how to code rovers to maneuver the moon’s terrains, flying drones to accomplish mission objectives, and designing and testing water rockets. Throughout the missions, students were constantly challenged in the engineering design process and gained important STEM skills such as coding, designing prototypes, and creating designs using 3D printing.

In addition to taking classes from university professors and researchers, students had the opportunity to visit research labs on campus and meet aerospace engineers and staff from Jeff Bezo’s aerospace and spaceflight company, Blue Origin. Lastly, our students also had an excursion to the Museum of Flight where they learned more about various lunar missions and tested out the flight simulators.

After spending an intensive five days completing their test missions, students participated in a final mission objective and presented their hard work to their families and friends in a celebration luncheon on campus.

Health Camp

While SPACE Camp focused on science and engineering, The Science & Politics of Health Camp provided opportunities to 50 students to stay on UW Campus to learn about the diverse pathways in healthcare and network with different health professionals.

Health Camp kicked off with our guest speaker, Kaiser Permanente of Washington’s current Medical Director for Healthcare Career Pathways (i.e. Pipeline Programs) and member of BIPOC Health Careers Ecosystem, Dr. Ali Thomas. He gave a brief historical account of prejudice and racism in healthcare and provided students an opportunity to reflect on their roles they have in the community.

UW’s School of Public Health professors, Victoria Garder and Carolin Spice tag team to lead a session for students to experience what it would be like to be studying public health in college. Students were able evaluate their community assets and identify public health challenges in their community. Victoria Gardner, who is also the Assistant Dean for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, also provided valuable insights on programs that students can apply for continued interest in healthcare careers.

In addition to Public Health, students were also able to hear from Dr. Villareal from the School of Pharmacy, learned about the field of respiratory therapist from Federico Olivas, Respiratory Therapist from Harborview Hospital and formed discussion groups with healthcare college students from the Health Sciences Center Minority Students Program (HSCMSP) to learn about their pathway to the healthcare majors. And to build skills, students also took a class in first aid and received their CPR certification!

On the last class day, students gained insights community health organizers, Stephanie Ung of Khmer Community of Seattle King County (KCSKC) and Erandi Flores Bucio, the co-founder of Auburn Youth United to explore how they can make a difference in their own community as high school students.
We also toured the state-of-the-art UW Medicine Research Labs in South Lake Union where they also met with various scientists from Institute of Stem Cell & Regenerative Medicine (ISCRM).

After 5 days of networking and taking classes, students spent Saturday reflecting on the week and pathway of interest with their fellow campers in a celebratory luncheon. Students made new connections with students from different schools, college mentors, and last memories at UW Seattle.

School-Based Programs

Our high schools hosted a variety of school-based workshops for our senior GEAR UP students. Nearly 200 students from across the region participated in one of the school-based programs that focused on getting ready to begin their journey to college and higher education. Throughout high school, students must steer their way through numerous obstacles that come with balancing their rigorous academic courses, social life, home responsibilities, jobs, extracurricular activities, and more. During senior year, they add to the stressors of college applications, financial aid, and deciding what their next steps will be. Navigating the college process can be challenging, and it is even more so for first-generation students embarking on this journey. These summer programs were designed to provide students with knowledge and support they need to kickstart this process and enter the school year ahead of the game.

During these senior bootcamps, students engaged in research, narrowed down their college list, and some even started their applications. Participants received guidance from college admissions counselors on the application process and acquired tips and tricks for crafting excellent personal statements. GEAR UP students also learned various methods to finance their college education, created their FSA IDs and started searching for and applying for scholarships. Other topics included identity, resume and job skills, career exploration, leadership development, and more! Current UW student and college mentor Elisa Lopez mentioned, “I was glad to help students the way I wished I was helped during my senior year; any help is appreciated during this time.” Our students gained valuable insights, resources and support from a variety of college access experts and college students. GEAR UP attendees walked away from their senior programs feeling more confident entering their senior year well-prepared.