Growing up without a mother or father quickly took a toll on me as a young and impressionable child. My
dad never finished high school, and neither did my mom, so their lifestyles sent them where they knew
they’d always end up: my father in jail and my mother deceased. But who was to decide my destiny? Going
from foster home to foster home, I was constantly told, “People like us don’t go to college. Get a 9-5 like the
rest of us.” But I always knew there had to be more to life than a GED and a job at a factory or restaurant.
Those were the kinds of things I experienced in my everyday life, so this was normal to me. This was the
outcome of their lives and those same expectations were embedded in me like a seed.
A few years later, when I got into school, I would see kids who had parents that had successful
careers such as doctors, lawyers, nurses and all these other cool things. It made me think, what could I
do to grow up to be like them? When we moved to Muskegon, I learned about a program called GEAR UP.
It was exclusively for the class of 2017: for me! It immediately peaked my interest. At that moment in my
life, I was convinced that there was no hope for me. Everyone’s parents had money for their children to go to
college except for mine. I had no prior knowledge about college life, and I knew I couldn’t pay for
it. Other kids knew people who had attended college except for me; I was disadvantaged. Fortunately for me,
God placed people in my life that I needed to help me grow my knowledge about post-secondary education
and helping find the right fit for me.
I still remember the first thing the instructor told us, ̈GEAR UP stands for Gaining Early Awareness
Readiness for Undergraduate Programs. ̈ At that time, I didn’t know how much of an impact this would have
on my life and how much GEAR UP would teach me. I am proud to say that the staff at GEAR UP
have educated me just as much as my instructors at school. They taught me about the value of an education
and the things that you could accomplish with it. They also taught me about different colleges and that there
are more HBCU ( historically black colleges) besides Clark, Spelman, and Morehouse. Not only did the
GEAR UP team give me the chance to ask questions about college life from actual college students, they
also had guest speakers to encourage us along the way.
The GEAR UP program has been very influential to my productive life and my humble attitude as I have
benefited greatly from being a part of it. I feel GEAR UP has impacted me immensely from the extra work
they gave us, to expanding our developing brains, and to the constructive criticism they gave us about
character. For the first time in my life, I felt like someone other than myself cared about my
evolution. I remember the first time I stayed at Ferris State University, and we lived in the dorms for a
portion of the summer. I feel like my education about college grew even more from this experience thanks to
GEAR UP. After seeing and experiencing how college life was, I couldn’t help but want to be more than
what my parents became.
All in all, I feel that the GEAR UP program has given me access to tools I can use to further my education
and, in return, achieve my goal of acquiring more than the examples that were set before me. This program
has become my new “seed” for success. This is my little social media experiment to share with you.