Those who complete the program receive a $7,000 scholarship paid for by a federal grant. Of the 75 North Middle School students who began the program, 42 completed it, said Mary Waggoner, a school district spokeswoman. Kelly Shepherd, principal at North Middle School, said Gear Up is one of several programs that encourage students to achieve by "working hard, staying in school and seeing themselves in college."
Q: You were in seventh grade when you first heard about Gear Up, so college must have seemed way far away then?
A: Yeah it did. I didn't know about (Gear Up) until my mom told me about it. She said it was a scholarship thing. I said, "OK that sounds cool." That's how it started. Plus, I'm a twin so it helped out with my brother as well.
Q: Did the program make a difference in your studies?
A: Yes, it made me realize that I had to study hard rather than just skim the edges of high school.
Q: What was your GPA?
A: 3.35. You had to have 3.0 or higher to keep the scholarship.
Q: Have you signed your letter of intent to play softball for Troy University in Alabama?
A: Yes. I was really excited. It made me realize I'm going somewhere not only to play softball but … I want to major in athletic training. They have an awesome program there. That was also a thing that made me realize I wanted to go there.
Q: Did you do that signing at home?
A: Yes, and I had a little party at school.
Q: How do you hope to use your degree when you get out of college?
A: To work at a high school and be an athletic trainer for fall, winter and spring sports. We have a trainer who does it at Everett High. I've talked to him. I've always had sports in my life. I love working with kids.
Q: How did you find out about Troy and its programs?
A: There's a girl on my summer softball team who signed in the fall. I went down to Portland in the winter and did a camp down there and an assistant coach attended that. We kind of, like, stayed in contact.
Q: What position do you play?
A: I played third base in high school, but I'll play shortstop for Troy. I'm a little nervous. I've never played there. They think I can do it.
Q: Who are your role models?
A: My dad was a big role model. And my mom was probably big on the academics. She told me I had to do well to play softball. Also my brother, Dylan; he and I were competitive and got the report card out when we got home and said, "I beat you." All of it helped, really.
Q: What's your favorite subject?
A: English. I just like English. I have always done well in it.
Q: And your least favorite?
A: Probably science. Well, I like chemistry.
Q: Was there any particular thing about Troy that you liked?
A: Just the atmosphere. I felt it was more family orientated. The team is a big family. They bond together. There's not cliques. The coaches are super nice. Going far away was a big thing for me.
Q: What's your favorite book?
A: "Mind Gym: An Athlete's Guide to Inner Excellence." It's for athletes about your inner confidence.
Q: Any advice for fellow students?
A: I would say never give up. Always work toward your dream.
Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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