NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Hispanics make up about a third of the population at the high schools in Nacogdoches and Lufkin.
Those numbers reflect why "GEAR UP," a college preparedness program, is diligently helping families seek a higher education for their children.
Sara Calderon wanted a college education for her children. Despite a language barrier she sought answers to her questions. Other parents aren't so bold.
"I know high school has the information, but sometimes the meetings are just in English and some persons are afraid to ask or follow the steps because they don't know how," said Sara Calderon, a GEAR Up trainer.
It wasn't long before Calderon became a gear up parent 2 parent trainer. She's a guide through the rigors of college prep. Everything from what a GPA is to financial aid is delivered in Spanish.
"And this is some training we use to help parents understand the process to go to college," Calderon said.
The information is helping Calderon's daughter, Linny, her siblings, cousins, and friends go to college.
"Parents volunteer," said Linny Espino, a GEAR UP student. "They get the information and they tell other parents about it."
On Tuesday, the newest volunteers received training at Stephen F. Austin State University. The ongoing effort relies on parents who care.
"It's important that we find ways to reach our community in ways that work for them because it will help the entire community economically, socially, and academically," said Olegario Madera, a GEAR Up outreach coordinator.
The information is helping Espino pursue a business major and fulfill an ambition to become a business owner.
"It makes me feel very proud actually," Espino said. "It's something I've always wanted. I'm very glad of where I'm at, and I couldn't have done it without my mom."
For Calderon GEAR UP is not only helping her children. It also gave her the confidence to follow some of her own advice.
"By next year, I try to go to college," Calderon said.GEAR
GEAR UP meetings are held for Spanish-speaking parents every month. The next one in Nacogdoches is October 23 at the C.L. Simon Recreation Center's meeting room. A presentation and student testimony goes from 6 to 8 p.m. You can also contact SFA's GEAR UP project.