Arizona GEAR UP alumna Jennifer Jaimes Gomez graduated from Mohave High School in 2018. Currently, she attends Arizona State University and studies elementary education, with plans to teach in her community one day.
Jennifer first joined GEAR UP in 2012 as part of the 2012-19 grant cycle that followed a cohort model and worked with students from middle school through their first year of college.
“In middle school, it was more getting to know college terms and becoming familiar with career exploration,” Jennifer said about her first experience in GEAR UP. “We explored postsecondary opportunities.”
She says the experience brought a different perspective to education that she hadn’t seen before. Jennifer knew from early on that she wanted to be a teacher and says Arizona GEAR UP provided her with resources and support to help her reach her educational goals.
One of Jennifer’s favorite moments in the GEAR UP Program was the Summer Leadership Academy at Northern Arizona University. The nearly week-long program invites GEAR UP students from across Arizona to NAU’s campus, where they get the opportunity to live in the dorms and get a sense of the college experience.
“Because we are from a small town, we didn’t really have the funds for college visits,” Jennifer said. “Because of GEAR UP, we had the opportunity to go and explore universities.”
While in high school, Jennifer earned scholarships through Arizona GEAR UP and College Success Arizona. After graduating high school, she attended Mohave Community College, where she studied elementary education before transferring to Arizona State University.
Now in her first semester at ASU, Jennifer also works virtually with students in low-income, rural areas and helps them apply to colleges and fill out the FAFSA.
“There isn’t a time where I don’t mention them [GEAR UP] or credit them for my success, and I want to be a helping hand to other students,” Jennifer said.
After getting her degree, Jennifer hopes to become a teacher in her hometown of Bullhead City, Arizona. “Coming from such a small town, when I was younger, there wasn’t really a lot of representation of people who looked like me and understood me,” Jennifer said. “I want to be the teacher that I wish I had when I was younger.”