Daniel Lopez

Daniel Lopez, a student at Nogales High School, was the grand prize winner during National GEAR UP Week 2020.

Students from around Santa Cruz County participated in virtual contests showcasing their skills in creative writing, photography, the arts, and even dance via the video app TikTok, during National GEAR UP Week 2020.

The week, observed Sept. 21-25 this year, celebrates and raises awareness of Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP), a college and career access program aimed at helping low-income, minority and disadvantaged students, and offered locally through the College and Career Readiness Educational Opportunities (C-CREO) program at the Santa Cruz County School Superintendent’s Office.

Students including Daniel Lopez of Nogales High School, Jonathan Garcia of Rio Rico High School, Ines Galvez and Adrian Castro of Lourdes Catholic High School, and Andrew Sherman of Patagonia Union High School participated in GEAR UP Week activities every day, and were awarded a free milkshake from Nickel’s Diner for their perfect attendance. Lopez, who entered every contest possible, earned the grand prize: a $50 gift card from Amazon.

Other prizes came courtesy of community donors including Cindy’s Italian Icees, Finito’s, Cele’s Hot Dogs and Santa Cruz County elected officials.

The live Zoom events for students and parents were focused around the theme of “Growing Grit.” Meanwhile, a video series called “Admissions Spotlight” created by Robert Brubaker of the County Superintendent’s Office and featuring interviews with admissions offices from colleges and universities was unveiled on the GEAR UP website.

And while this year’s National Gear Up Week was very different from a year ago, C-CREO Program Director Maya Donnelly said it was still a success.

“We are trying our best to be innovative and creative in our virtual services for students,” Donnelly said, adding that the week “was a wonderful opportunity for us to showcase the students and educators in Santa Cruz County with the rest of the GEAR UP programs across the nation through the use of social media.”

To date, the GEAR UP Program in Santa Cruz County has served 10 middle schools and five high schools. This year, that service is being extended to 830 high school freshmen.

In addition to activities like National GEAR UP Week, C-CREO offers school-based programming and services at the C-CREO Hub, a college and career access center open to the public at the Santa Cruz Center, 2021 N. Grand Ave. in Nogales.

Learn more about C-CREO, see videos from National GEAR UP Week and find other resources at www.c-creo.org. More information is also available from mdonnelly@santacruzcountyaz.gov or (520) 375-7947.

(From a news release submitted by the Santa Cruz County School Superintendent’s Office.)

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