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YouTube Videos for Our GUA Students!

GEAR UP Alabama students, this one is for you!

It’s summer, which means for most students it’s time to relax and forget about the stress that school often brings. But, for GEAR UP Alabama students, we’re in the middle of summer camps and not slowing down our college prep for any season!

While you’re in between summer camps or trying to stay cool in this crazy heat, here are some ways you can both entertain yourself AND make progress in getting yourself ready for college. I mean, there’s nothing like some good YouTube videos to pass the time quickly, right?

Ted Talks

Re-Thinking College: Alex Macmillen // Alex MacMillen dicusses how he learned to make his college experience what he needed rather than what was expected. 

Community College to Harvard: Rethinking College Admissions // Hear the story of a student who chose to go to community college and later ended up with multiple degrees from multiple Ivy League schools.

The Secret to Student Success // What's the thing that can be a game change for you in your studies?

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance // Ever think about how you'll find the motivation to finish high school? Or get to college? This video is for you!


SupertutorTV // On this channel, Brooke Hudson walks through all kinds things that can help you get ready for college. From test prep to simple life tips, this is a great channel to explore as you’re getting ready for college. (Because, in my opinion and with my free time, it’s much easier to watch test prep videos than sit down with a test prep book.)

Best ACT Prep // This channel offers a lot of short, helpful videos with different ACT strategies.

A Clockwork Reader // Do you like to read? Hannah’s channel is aaaall about books and what she’s loved. I think the best way to find new books to read is via recommendations, but I also find that it’s hard to find people that read as much as I do, so I’ve really loved finding accounts like Hannah’s.


Why Not Us? // This documentary follows four first generation college students as they go on a roadtrip across the country. On their roadtrip, they meet a variety of successful adults, mostly who were also first generation college students, and hear their stories. This documentary is about an hour long, but it’ll leave you feeling inspired and excited for what’s ahead.

First Generation // This is another documentary that, as you could assumed, is centered around first generation college students. In this documentary, the stories of multiple students are followed as they prepare for college. It shows the obstacles that first generation students often face, but also what can happen when you set your mind to something. You’ll be both frustrated and inspired by their stories and, in the end, see the ways in your life that GEAR UP Alabama makes your story different from these students’.
A Walk in My Shoes: First Generation College Students // This documentary also follows first generation students, specifically ones who attended Kansas State. Though you may not be interested in Kansas State, I can guarantee you'll be interested in hearing the stories of these students. There's nothing more inspiring than hearing from people who have been where you are now. 

Extras Just for Fun

Michelle Obama Hosts the “Beating the Odds” Summit // This is a video recorded from a summit Michelle Obama hosted at the White House in 2015. It’s a panelled conversation on different aspects and tools as you prepare for college.
Step Up to College: Preparing for College // A lot of great advice as you get ready for college! 

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Goshen High School Students Complete First Semester of Dual Enrollment

A huge congratulations to our four GEAR UP Alabama students, Makalyn Avery, Jaylen Hall, Jehoshaphat McClure, and Krissee Sanchez! On May 23, 2018, they were presented with certificates of Completion for the EDU 100 Touch the Future, signed by Dr. Jackie Stennis. This was the inaugural dual enrollment class for GEAR UP Alabama students.

Jehoshaphat (L), Jaylen (M), and Makayn (R)

When asked, GUA student Krissee Sanchez told me that the course work was thorough and that, at first, she had a hard time getting the work completed on time, but that Dr. Stennis was really helpful in helping her complete it. Jehoshaphat McClure stated that the course work was easy and that it helped him prepare for his next UAB course that he’ll start this summer. Both Makalyn and Jaylen said that the course work was kind of difficult, but once again said that Dr. Stennis helped them get it done.

Two of these students, Krissee and Jehoshaphat are registered to take classes this summer. Krissie is taking a course in personal health and Jehoshaphat will be taking World History 1800-present. He chose this course because he loves history and plans to minor in it in college.


We are elated and proud of our students for completing an online course and meeting their 10th grade requirements!

Written by: Elizabeth Sigers, GUA Site Facilitator Goshen High School

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GUA Mini-Camps at Auburn University

The Center for Educational Outreach and Engagement (CEOE) at Auburn University was excited to host over 230 GEARUP Alabama students on campus this May. With May Mini-Camps being held for the first time, students and chaperones got a little glimpse of Auburn University, college life and academic instruction. Each of the three May Mini-Camps was held over a two day period, allowing the students to come to campus and spend the night in dorms and experience classroom settings on a large college campus.

The students arrived prior to lunch and had the opportunity to check into their dorm rooms and get settled before getting acquainted with their summer camp counselors who would be their guides and companions throughout their time at Auburn. After playing a few get-to-know you games, the GUA students were guided across campus to the Village dining hall where they enjoyed a large, all you can eat buffet for lunch. Following this was their first exposure to a college-type academic lesson presented by one of Auburn’s only African-American journalism professors. The focus of the lesson was ACT writing and being able to prepare themselves for good, concise communication in the written form. Breaking off into smaller groups, the students were able to practice their writing and get guidance from their chaperones and counselors. A short presentation from Auburn’s College of Engineering provided the students with a look at a specific college and the majors contained therein. Following these academic lessons, the students were able to take a break with dinner and activity on the Student Center Greenspace before heading back to their dorms for wrap up and lights-out.

The next morning followed with breakfast at the Village dining hall again and a detailed presentation from Auburn’s Office of Admission. Students were made aware of the admissions requirements and also what scholarships were available to them through the university. A short presentation on financial literacy followed and then allowed the students to break into groups again to practice some good financial management habits that they can take home with them. As the time was coming to an end, students were able to return to their dorm, pack their belongings and board their buses with box lunches to return back home.

It is Auburn’s hope that this short exposure to college life would give the students a brighter picture of the path they can take to find themselves in college in a few year. This special time on campus was not possible without the partnership of the following departments: Journalism, Admissions, Housing, Dining, Engineering and Facilities.

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Student Perspectives on UAB Mini-Camp

As much as we loved mini-camp, it means nothing if it doesn't benefit the students, too! We were so encouraged by these essays from our GUA students, written when asked what they learned while at mini-camp.

Reading about mini-camp through their eyes was such a treat for all of us in the GUA office and we hope it will be for you, too! These essays were selected because they give a variety of perspectives on the mini-camp experience.

Travion Johns, Selma High School

UAB was a fantastic experience. Being that it is my top choice or one of my top choices for schools to go to, I found it a great opportunity to be there. Teachers like Dr. Larry Tyson and our tour guide Ashton provided me with more than enough hospitality. I think this was by far one of the best experiences in my life and I can’t wait to visit again. Thanks UAB and thanks GEAR UP Alabama! Go Blazers!!

Tamera Bell

I learned that it’s okay to go to a community college before transfering to a university. Also, there are many different health care fiels to go into and I’ve been inspired to look into those different fields. I’ve also learned that there are internships on campus, meaning there are a lot of opporunities to get hands-on experience in your major. Before I came to mini-camp, UAB was a college choice, and now I’ve decided that I definitely want to come back for a campus visit because I really enjoyed being here.

Brittany Porter

I’m not a math person, but being at UAB had me questioning myself. I was put in an engineering class. I was upset at first until the stuff that they were teaching caught my interest. It was a challenge that I was grateful for. The volunteers were great. The professors were nice and encouraging.

Jane Martin, Hale County High School

I learned that diversity is important in community and that getting involved in college as possible is important. I was encouraged to also follow my dreams, even through struggles. Dr. Wolfe was amazing to meet and get to know; thank you for showing me how important diversity is. I hope to come to UAB for school in the future.

Kaliyah Williams

I learned that you can major in one field and minor in another field. I also learned that while you are attending UAB, you can work here. There are many fields of whatever you want to do with your life that can help you in other areas of that work. I learned that it is also okay to change your major, because it may be something that is not for you. Therefore, I learned that UAB gives you a great amount of educational opporunities.

Maya Constrol, Greensboro High School

I’ve learned numberous things, such as: diversity, justice being a solution to world problems (long term), charity being a soluation to world problems (short term), how stereotypes affect us, and a lot about the college experience. I was given the opportunity to learn that college is not easy, but having connections and personal realtionships with staff is important. I’ve had a great experience. Thank you to all the leaders and volunteers who made this possible. UAB is great!

Kelsi B, Half County High School

I have learned a lot being here at UAB. I just want to thank whoever made GEAR UP Alabama because without them I wouldn’t have this opportunity.

Aliyah G

I learned about how to make decisions based on the environment. The class I took has influenced some of the decisions I’m going to make once out of high school. Thanks to everyone who helped us come to UAB for this great experience!

Christian Hill

While I was here I learned about the everyday college life. I learned the process of going to class and eating in the commons with my friends. I learned about nursing and the things they do and use. I learned a lot here at UAB.

Like I said, these are just a few of the hundreds of essays we received from students during mini-camp. We are so happy that the students loved their classes and their UAB experience. The goal of mini-camp was to simulate the UAB experience for our GUA students and these essays prove one thing: mission accomplished!

We hope that, through mini-camp, we gained a few future UAB Blazers!

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UAB Mini-Camp 2018

Last week, GEAR UP Alabama hosted our first ever mini-camps! We welcomed over 500 of our students from twenty-two different schools to UAB’s campus May 14-15 and 16-17. These camps were designed to give our students an idea of what it’s like to attend school at UAB.


Our days were jam packed with different activities around campus. Once the students arrived on campus, we welcomed them to UAB before dividing them up and sending them to class. Thanks to an amazing group of over fifteen different UAB professors and grad students, we were able to give our GUA students the chance to attend all kinds of different classes. From nursing to debate, filmmaking, songwriting, community health, accounting, leadership, engineering, STEM, and more, our students got to experience the variety of fields and majors UAB has to offer.

After class, the students spent their afternoon around different parts of campus. While one group was led around a campus scavenger hunt, another was in the recreation center, while other students listened to a presentation from the admissions department. The afternoons were long and hot, but gave the students the chance to learn more about all UAB has to offer.


In the evenings, half of the students were given time to complete assignments given to them during class while the other group went to dinner. After both groups had eaten, the entire camp joined together for a play, student panel, and talent show. Our students had the opportunity to watch a play performed by UAB students, sponsored by Vulcan Park and Museum, depicting a conversation between W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington. The actors, Antonio Mitchell (who played Booker T. Washington) and David Parker (who played W.E.B. Du Bois), then answered questions from the GUA students. After the play, our UAB student volunteers shared about their own college experience, explaining why they chose their specific major and encouraging the students to pursue what they’re passionate about. To end the night, a number of UAB students performed for the GUA students, showcasing different areas of campus they could get involved in, including the writing, the arts, and fraternities. After a long first day, the students were able to return to their dorm room in the New Freshman residence hall, but they didn’t go to bed before practicing the college tradition of late night snacks.


The next morning, students went to breakfast before being taken back to the class they’d visited the day before. For a lot of classes, this meant the students were presenting a project or discussing the homework assignment from the previous day. After class, all the students came together to hear from a panel of professionals, learning about different career journeys and specific jobs and what it took for the professionals to get there. Finally, wrapping up the camp, Dr. Perry and Dr. Briggs led a closing ceremony, complete with a student raffle, slideshow, and words of encouragement from our GUA leaders.

We are so happy about how UAB’s mini-camps came together! We have to mention, though, that we couldn’t have done it without the help of our UAB volunteers, UAB professors, the talent show performers, UAB Housing, UAB Dining, the career panel, and so many more. The students had a great time on campus and we loved having them! We’re already planning for mini-camps next year!

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