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Area High School students gear up for College

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(UTRGV Archival Photo by Paul Chouy)

Texas Border Business

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WHEN & WHERE: Tuesday, Jan. 28 and Wed., Jan. 29 – PlainsCapital Bank El Gran Salón, UTRGV Brownsville Campus; Thursday, Jan. 30 – UTRGV Ballroom, Edinburg Campus (Campus Maps: UTRGV BrownsvilleUTRGV Edinburg)

By Letty Fernandez

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BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – About 400 ninth-graders in the UTRGV GEAR UP College in ACTion! program will spend three days at the UTRGV campuses in Brownville and Edinburg, getting ready for college.

The first session will take place on Tuesday, Jan. 28, in the PlainsCapital Bank El Gran Salón on the UTRGV Brownsville Campus.

Students from Brownsville’s Porter, Lopez and Rivera high schools will hear from Dr. Jesus Gonzalez, lecturer in the UTRGV Engineering and Computer Department, at 9:45 a.m.

At 10:30 a.m., Gonzalez will lead two engineering challenges. Students will be placed in groups of four to five students to build an mbot by using the engineering design method. Once the robot has been built, they will work to test/drive the robot to race in a relay game.

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The second challenge is a robot fight, in which robots will be placed in an area with a balloon on the robot. Whoever stands at the end moves on to the next round. The final round will have three students competing.

Students will return Wednesday, Jan. 29, for a second day of speakers, tours and presentations.

Dr. Cristina Villalobos, associate dean of the UTRGV College of Sciences, will speak at

9 a.m. A first-generation college graduate, she has been honored for increasing the number of students to pursue careers in the sciences.

On Thursday, Jan. 30, GEAR UP Days moves to the University Ballroom on the UTRGV Edinburg Campus, with students from Economedes High School, La Joya High School, and Juarez-Lincoln High School participating.

From 9:15 a.m. to noon, there will be presentations by the UTRGV School of Medicine, School of Nursing, School of Social Work, and the College of Health Professions, followed by a panel of UTRGV faculty.


In 2017, the U.S. Department of Education awarded UTRGV a $21.2 million GEAR UP grant. The grants are designed to increase the number of low-income students who are well-prepared to enter and succeed in college.

For this grant – called GEAR UP College in ACTion! – UTRGV is partnering with the Brownsville Independent School District, La Joya Independent School District and Edinburg Consolidated Independent School District to provide support services to about 3,900 seventh-grade students, to include tutoring, mentoring, offering dual enrollment classes and college tours. Teachers also are supported with professional development opportunities and other resources. The grant will follow participating students through their first year of college. 

GEAR UP Days is hosted by HESTEC – the Hispanic Engineering, Science and Technology program at UTRGV. Working with the colleges and schools, the events are designed to promote science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers.

In March, HESTEC will host eighth-grade students in the Region 1 GEAR UP program.

For information about the GEAR UP program, visit the U.S. Department of Education at https://www2.ed.gov/programs/gearup/index.html.

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