For GEAR UP Alabama students, the Black Belt Friday trip was extremely important. This trip gave students the ability to expand their mindset for college. It gave them the chance to learn valuable information that can be used in the future. This trip gave students the motivation to say and know that they can achieve their goals. The energy in the room was so warm and welcoming.

The mentors were kind, respectful, humble, and informative. They shared so much information with us such as maintaining great time management skills, finding out about your professors, choosing your professors, making new friends, furthering your education in your career of choice, and figuring out what path that you need to take to accomplish your goal. According to one student, her mentor advised her that she would have to make some sacrifices in order to accomplish her goals. She advised her that she will also have to know where to draw the line between having time to have fun, and making time to study. I saw that advice as being very useful in life.

My mentors name was Rohit Koratkar. I learned so much from him. He shared with me that he was from California, and that he transferred to UAB. He majored biochemistry. He told me how he enjoyed the experience of being a grad student at UAB and what the college life is like at UAB. I shared with him that after high school I would like to attend Lurleen B. Wallace Community College for teacher’s education.

I continued to tell him that after I attend Lurleen B. Wallace Community College for two years, I would like to transfer to UAB for child psychology. I further told him that I grew up working with and around kids. Working with kids and inspiring kids is something that I love to do. After we both shared our goals with each other, I asked more questions about UAB. I asked him about work study, which is basically when you work to pay off your tuition.

UAB admission requirements were also something that I was a little curious about since I do desire to be a UAB student one day. He then explained to me that the admission requirements would fall under my career of choice. So, I told him that I wanted to be a child psychologist and he explained to me that the admission requirements for me wanting to be a child psychologist may possibly fall under the colleges of Arts & Sciences. I then gained a better understanding of everything. He made it more clear for me.

Next, I asked him about time management while in college. He told me to build my schedule with time in mind. FAFSA was also something that I found myself wanting to know more about. FAFSA is money from the government to basically pay for college. I was told that you may apply for this your senior year in high school. We discussed loans and grants also. Grants are what you get from the government that you don’t have to pay back. I was told that it is better to get grants rather than loans.

In between our mentoring sessions, we had a delightful performance from the Greenville High School band, JROTC, and Georgiana School choir. Next, we were served very delicious refreshments by the Greenville High School culinary. I met so many new people that inspired me as well as motivated me to strive for the better and to always give my best no matter what. It gave me the encouragement to keep pushing forward. The Black Belt Friday Trip was truly a trip to remember that I most certainly enjoyed and will never forget.

By Tyneshia McQueen 
Greenville High School