MacKenzie Sanford recently graduated as part of the Class of 2021 at Tonopah Valley High School, an Arizona GEAR UP 5E High School in Maricopa County, Arizona.
MacKenzie first heard about GEAR UP from an email she received her junior year. She says she immediately wanted to learn more, and when asked about her participation in GEAR UP, she was ecstatic.
“I’m talking to them all the time, like about graduation and ‘how do I do this and do that?’”
MacKenzie says GEAR UP helped her to find her interests, passions, and helped her choose a school and major. This fall, Mackenzie will be studying Forensic Psychology at Arizona State University.
“GEAR UP has been really helpful; they helped me with student housing, applications, and student aid,” MacKenzie said.
The most impactful part of GEAR UP to MacKenzie was the presence of her coaches.
“Them being there was big. If I needed help, I could reach out, and they would be there for me,” MacKenzie said.
The pandemic had shifted most of the school year online, but at the end of the year, MacKenzie was able to attend her Senior Signing Day in person. The event was held at Tonopah Valley High School, where seniors celebrated and shared their next chapter in life.
In the future, MacKenzie hopes to help people as a psychologist. She said at first, she wanted to study accounting, and through research and discussions with her coach, she found an interest in psychology.
“I would have never found my specific major or even known it existed without the help of Ms. Richardson,” MacKenzie said.
She says her coach is like a friend, and she will continue to be in contact with Ms. Richardson well into her college days.