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Engaging in the Community--My Experience with GEAR-UP program by Andrew Coba

by akroderick | 5/28/2013 6:10:00 AM

Lately, our world has been ill ridden with negative news. I am here to deliver a momentary message that holds the cure. Here in our coastal community, we have started a reassuring revolution to discontinue the disruptive pattern. Leaders of this movement rest within the high school graduating class of 2017 and 2018. At the moment, the young individuals are being cultivated by the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR-UP) into exceptional students, prominent leaders, and considerate citizens.

In the fall of 2012, the GEAR-UP coordinator at Jefferson Middle School, Maxina Caraveo, and I had a casual conversation over the possible installation of an Ambassador Program. As a two year Student Ambassador for MiraCosta College, I am humbly appreciative of the valuable qualities the experience instilled in my person. I entirely believed a similar program should be extended to the younger generations while complimenting the efforts of GEAR-UP. Thankfully the coordinator agreed to adopt the project and it was initiated.

Over the next months, the GEAR-UP unit worked meticulously on designing the solid structure of the historic program. Applications were published and distributed to interested seventh and eighth grade students. Ensuing, an interview committee was assembled of tutors, coordinators, teachers, and Director Julie Johnson to assess and select the best fit candidates.

Today, the GEAR-UP consists of sixteen shining Ambassadors. Maintenance of the title entails completing difficult duties for the age group. Ambassadors are expected to satisfy the eight keys of excellence; balance, flexibility, ownership, commitment, this is it! , failure leads to success, speak with good purpose, and integrity; work an office hour, raise college awareness, respectfully recruit, provide informative tours, attend a weekly meeting, and maintain a specific grade point average. Incentives are available for Ambassadors that abide by the rules. GEAR-UP currency is the main incentive form, which allows the students to purchase supplies, and college clothes from the GEAR-UP store.

The greatest feature of the program is the exponential improvement and accomplishments the students attain. Already, eight ambassadors were hand picked to receive Peacemakers recognition award by the Tariq Khamisa Foundation whose efforts are directed towards stopping youth violence. Yet the impressive part is the Ambassadors revamped way of thinking. They are all in the process solidifying their dreams, goals, and aspirations. Each Ambassador has expressed their wish to do the extraordinary from obtaining multiple masters degrees to becoming the first female president. The future is bright for the cohort, as they will step onto the challenging high school stage. They will be faithfully assisted by the GEAR-UP family every step of the way along with a new alliance with the MiraCosta College Student Ambassadors who plan to mentor the aspiring youth leaders.

Show your support and be on the lookout for the greatest leaders emerging from our hometown.


Andrew J. Coba

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My Spring Break by Gregorio Reyes

by akroderick | 4/5/2013 3:15:00 AM

Spring break 2013 was awesome–not only because I got to spend time with my friends and enjoy the scents and winds of spring against my face and running through my hair, but also because I had the opportunity to motivate, persuade, and instill the pursuit for higher education in more than seven hundred high school seniors. I was joined along with my other fellow student ambassadors, including: Maria Aguilar, Taylor Barry, Caitlin Clark, Andrew Coba, Lauren Fidel, Esteban Garza, Richard Huizar, Paola Ilescas, Brian Matthews, Charise Moore, Angelica Rodriguez, Jessica Rogers, Jarrett Rogers, Kelsey Schwarz, Brittney Smith, Sasha Tangherian, Faatauvaa Wong, Rebecca Wormley, and Connor Zablow. We worked together as a team to help facilitate the structure of each day’s ever-changing agenda in order to give our future MiraCosta Spartans the best service possible, paying homage to our acronym SPA Day—Senior Priority Admissions Day.

We started each day bright and early, with our first task of greeting the high school students as soon as they stepped off the big, Twinkie-colored school bus. Once we had the students huddled up we exchanged a few words of encouragement and answered any questions they had about the tests they would be taking as soon as we got them to the library. With the help of our wonderful Testing Center staff, we assembled groups of students into the testing hub, each of them like soldiers ready to journey into the unknown depths of college. After the seniors finished their placement tests, we took them on a tour to highlight the many benefits of attending MiraCosta. We took them to all the key points in order to give them insight on how to navigate their path to a four-year university and enrich their education by using the free resources offered by the college. After the tour students were taken to a panel discussion, where they had the opportunity to interact with the Student Ambassadors and ask anything they wanted to know about the college experience. We gave them insight on our experiences as college students, providing helpful tips such as time management. A personal highlight for me during panel discussion was when Andrew brought up (a website that offers reviews and critiques of all college professors). Students laughed and were “wow-ed” by the website, which allowed them to open up and become more comfortable with asking questions. It was a great ice breaker! For me, the best part of SPA Day occurred after the panel discussion: lunch time. I can speak for all of the ambassadors when I say that each day we looked forward to lunch time. Not just because of the tasty wraps (which were provided by our wonderful cafeteria staff) but because this is where we had the opportunity to have one-on-one time with the students. We were able to get to know them on a more personal level, asking about their intended major, target school, and future career goals. The students really opened up to us, and we all shared the mutual passion for education. At the end of the day, when you sit down with a student and hear what they want to do, who they want to become, and why they want to become that person, you realize that it is the same reason why us student ambassadors came to college. As a student ambassador, it is very gratifying to know that you are helping students that are in the same place as you were as a high school senior. We have the honor of providing them the knowledge and assistance the college offers in order to help facilitate their journey in achieving their educational goal.

Please contact me at I look forward to hearing from you!

January and February 2013 Event Highlights by Angelica Rodriguez

by akroderick | 2/24/2013 10:22:00 AM

Roosevelt Middle School Family Night- January 24th, 2013

The MiraCosta College information table at Roosevelt Middle School’s Family Night was a huge success! I attended the fun-filled event with Charise Moore and Gregorio Reyes, two other MiraCosta College Student Ambassadors. The event had a wonderful turnout overall, and we constantly had middle schoolers and their parents at our table all night long. Not only were the students interested in learning about what MiraCosta has to offer them in the future, but the parents were seeking information as well. We spoke to a handful of parents who were interested in coming back to school, and also interacted with many parents who requested information for their sons/daughters who are current high school seniors. Family Night at Roosevelt Middle School was full of students and parents eager to learn about MiraCosta and our many services, and I am so happy Charise, Gregorio, and I were able to serve a wide range of audiences- while having fun!

U.S. Citizenship Celebration at the Community Learning Center, February 1st, 2013

It was an honor to be apart of such a life-changing event. The Community Learning Center was filled with students graduating from their citizenship courses, accompanied by lots of family members, friends, and many other loved ones. I was joined with Esteban, another Student Ambassador, and we set up a small information table towards the entrance of the Community Learning Center. The main focus was on the graduates and celebrating their achievement, so we did not receive many visitors at our table, but that was okay! We were both incredibly honored celebrate with the graduates.   See photos taken from the event at:

Philly Brown Screening- February 8th, 2013

Director Youssef Delara joined us at our Oceanside campus to give us an exclusive screening of his new film, Filly Brown! Tickets to the show sold out quickly, and our theater was packed with over 200 students, faculty, and eager movie-loving community members. The film itself was inspiring, empowering, and very much enjoyable for the wide variety of audience members that we hosted in our theater.

Thank you for reading my blog.  Please contact me at  I look forward to your feedback Smile 

A MiraCosta Winter Wonderland by Brittney Smith

by akroderick | 12/17/2012 11:04:00 AM

During the month of November I went to Torrey Pines High School, meet with our Vice President Dr. Robertson, and worked at the Latino Film Series. At Torrey Pines I continued to meet with a diverse group of students varying in interests, personality, cultures, and educational goals. The great thing about meeting with so many diverse students is realizing they all have a similar goal to get a good education. The fact that we are able to provide information to students who may otherwise not think of college as an option; whether it be money, grades, or just not being aware of the process. It is a pretty amazing feeling to tell them they have an opportunity to continue their educational and career goals no matter what the reason. I’m so happy to have great Student Ambassador partners such as, Jarrett and Esteban. I can’t wait to set up presentations and information meetings together with them next semester to inform even more students of our wonderful MiraCosta College.

      Another highlight of my month was getting to meet with Dr. Robertson he was so welcoming and it truly means a lot as a Student Ambassador to get to meet one on one with the Vice President of Student Services. The fact that Dr. Robertson shows us so much respect that he wanted to make sure he knows us all by our names and personalities, instead of just another face in the crowd,  means an eminence amount to me.

     My last highlight of November was working at the Latino Film Series with fellow ambassador Brian, Lisa Montes, Nikki Schaper, ASG, and Mr. Danny Haro himself. We had an amazing director as our guest Danny Haro who has directed many incredible films and TV projects. The Latino Film Series was presenting his film titled Pancho Gonzalez: Warrior of the Court. Pancho Gonzalez was an incredible tennis player who changed the face of tennis and opened it up not only to the Latino culture, but all cultures. Danny Haro was friendly and warm even taking pictures and signing books and DVD’s while sitting and talking with all the people working the event and who attended. We had a great turnout of around 50 people or more which is wonderful since it is meant to be a smaller setting. The movie room was packed, questions ran long, and there was lively and interesting discussion.  The Latino Film Series is always one of my favorite events to work at and I can’t wait to work at another Latino Film Series event soon.

    During December I’m looking forward to our annual Student Ambassador Christmas party and Secret Santa! Last year we also did an Ugly Sweater party at my house and it was so much fun, I look forward to spending the holidays with my family and my Student Ambassador family!

The Autumn Swing of Things by Brittney Smith

by akroderick | 11/5/2012 2:44:00 PM

Hi All!

During October I did my high school office hours at Torrey Pines High School and worked at the Gear Up Event. I witnessed such a big change at Torrey this year where a lot of students are interested in the option of attending community colleges.  I now have a student or two coming to visit me during each high school visit.  Staff and counselors are really working hard to help students find a college that is the best fit for them. I feel so proud as a Torrey Pines graduate to talk to students about my experience attending MiarCosta.  As much as we don't want to recognize it, there is a stigma associated with attending community colleges.  Along with our efforts as MiraCosta ambassadors, students at Torrey Pines are becoming more open about going to community colleges. I have seen so many types of students--some AP and some with low test scores. I tell each of them, "once you get to MiraCosta, it is not High School anymore."  We are all on the same playing field whether you did well or not in high school. It is a clean slate at MiraCosta where we are all striving for the same goal to get a degree or transfer to a 4-year University. I see students light up when I tell them this as they realize they have a second chance. It gives them hope no matter what background or financial barriers they may face. While working at the high school, I also have gotten to know some of the staff.  It was so much fun to see them dress up on Halloween--the staff secretary Joanne dressed as a Zookeeper and the Counselors dressed up as Animals. They have really made me feel welcome.  One of my favorite things working at Torrey Pines is to read the quote of the day posted at the Counselor's Office (see the quote below).

    The other major event in October for me was to work at the Gear Up Event on the Oceanside Campus. It was a great experience for me.  I had a lot of fun working with the students especially during the class time when I got to learn with them too. Although I had two students who kept wondering off, I made sure to bring them back to the group.  While it may have been a bit frustrating, I kept reminding myself the following:

  1. They are middle school age and I remember all the things and emotions going on during this time when you’re becoming an adolescent. 

  2. Each student comes from a unique background where there may be underlying factors within their families or even at school such as, bullying, or other more serious issues.

It is important to remember these things while dealing with any person we each have our challenges and as Student Ambassadors it is our job to be sensitive and understanding to people because of that.

    The best part about Gear Up was helping those two students get involved in the course activities when we were in the classroom.  I noticed that when I pushed them to participate they excelled. Their faces were filled with pride and I could feel that they felt engaged. They also took the initiatives and asked questions. One of the classes they really enjoyed was the Psychology class where all the students got to touch a human brain. I had previously done this in my Psychology class and was excited to share this experience with them. I got almost every student to touch the brain even the ones who weren’t so sure did it. I made them understand it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and they should take advantage of it. I also explained that very few colleges and universities actually have human brains available for research or presentation.

MiraCosta did a great job of putting on the Gear Up Event and I can only imagine it will get better next year.

Keep Smiling! –Brittney (Email me at

Change Hits Students by Caitlin Clark

by akroderick | 10/24/2012 4:01:00 AM

In the month of September I had the pleasure to be 1 out of 3 Student Ambassadors to represent Carlsbad High School (CHS). Since graduating from CHS in 2011, I have seen the student population expand to 3200 students, along with new buildings that contain more technology to keep the Lancer spirit alive. CHS has been through what I like to say the "start to something new" and many seniors are starting to realize this change they will soon encounter in less than 32 weeks. I had the privilege to present with Connor in two senior English classes. The classes’ personalities were very different because one was an English 4 AP class and the other class was a regular English 4. I presented to them what their life after CHS will be and how MiraCosta is an excellent choice for college whether they are undecided of their future, want to save money, or transfer to a four-year university. All the students had a different expression on their face. Some students were intrigued, motivated, astound, and worried because their life was about to change. Seeing the expressions on their faces assured me that I needed to help guide them to make the best decision towards college. At the end of the presentation, I took a survey on how many students planned to attend MiraCosta College or a community college. In the English 4 AP class only one young lady raised her hand out of 42 students. In the Regular English 4 class I had 28 students out of 42 students raise their hands. These results were surprising because I had 29 students out of 84 says they planned to go to community college. Even though this number is low my motivation is still going to try and help all seniors this year make the best decision for them. I want to take the unmotivated seniors and show them their potential.  Furthermore, I want to lead the motivated students on their successful path.

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My busy month of September by Brian Matthews

by akroderick | 10/23/2012 9:40:00 AM

The first events that took place in September were my high school meetings, first at Torrey Pines and second SDA. The first meeting at Torrey Pines was very brief because they were very busy and had a meeting at that time.  The second meeting at SDA was very well organized and informative.  All the counselors set aside half an hour to speak with us.  They were interested in programs and services at MiraCosta and any changes that might have been made.  We discussed in detail what strategies we would use to boost the attendance of our Matriculation in a day event.  After the meeting we explored the campus, took some great pictures, and met some teachers.  Overall SDA had an extrodinarily welcoming environment and I am looking forward to working there through this year.

The other even which took place this same week was the board of Trustees meeting.  I felt very confident going into this meeting because of Aubrey's organization and preparedness.  We gave a good show, made the board laugh, and explained our purpose with perfect clarity.  From what I saw our group really impressed everyone in the room.  This event was an excellent display of what the team building activities during the retreat and training did for us. 

The next week I came to class on Monday not expecting to work.  Aubrey asked me to lead a tour because I was the only ambassador available at that time slot.  I did so unshaven and wearing a shirt two sizes too large.  I have to admit I was not perfectly confident leading a tour looking this way but I believe it went well despite my unkempt look.  The student seemed to appreciate all the programs we offered at the college and expressed interest in many of the departments.  The whole tour lasted one hour and the student and his grandparents seemed very satisfied, of crouse we'll see how they rate me on their satisfaction survey.

The next big event was my first few high school visits which were very successful.  My schedule is still being switched around so I haven't exactly figured out a set schedule yet, but I was able to make contact with two studetns, one at SDA and one at Torrey Pines.  I was able to help one at SDA who was interested in U-link find information on that.  At Torrey Pines I was able to help a student who wanted to graduate early look at different options for transfering and explain the plan C or IGETC advisement sheet to him.  I also made contact with another college rep at SDA who was visiting from CCSD (California College San Diego)  We discussed the different advantages of community college and all the programs we offered compared to the experience of a big university. I really enjoyed visitng both high schools and I felt like a accomplished a lot in the first two weeks.

The final event for this month was the Oktoberfest in Encinitas.  This event was so much fun despite the fact that most people were not interested in learning about community college.  My co-workers and I were very enthusiastic about trying to grab the attention of passerbys.  We did make contact with several parents and older studetnts interested in learning about transfer programs and classes. It was a fun event and ended up being very nostalgic for me because I had grown up a few blocks from the festival and been there almost every year since it began.

This month has been busy and I felt it picked up more momentum after the high school visits began.  One of the other ambassadors told me this job is a 'marathon' and I nowunderstand what he means.  Being an ambassador takes a lot of time and effort but it is such an enriching and fulfilling experience.  I can't wait to participate in more events and share the experience and my love of MiraCosta with our district!

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As Student Ambassadors at MiraCosta College, we visit local schools, meet with prospective students, and provide information regarding programs and services at MiraCosta College. We get students excited about attending MiraCosta and assist them with application and enrollment process. We also promote diversity and provide assistance to underrepresented student populations at MiraCosta College.

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