GEAR UP parent advocate receives recognition for hard work and efforts

SAN BENITO — There’s no question, Adriana Guerra leads with her heart.

Guerra is a parent advocate for the GEAR UP Program in the school district. While also working for the district in the Parental Involvement Department, she has dedicated five years to GEAR UP.

This is a grant program designed to increase the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education through grants and special services.

Guerra’s time volunteering has been fruitful and busy.

Just recently, she received recognition for her efforts. She was named 2016 GEAR UP Parent Leader of the Year. The award was presented to her by her teenage daughter Larissa during a conference in Washington, D.C.

Guerra knew she was nominated but never thought she would win.

“It is a national award and I thought, what are the odds?” she said. “I was totally surprised and in shock. It was also wonderful to have my daughter with me at the time.”

For Guerra, her work is a passion.

“It’s out of the kindness of my heart,” she said. “I thank God for his grace for what he has allowed me to do and my family for always being there for me.”

Over the years, she has provided information to other parents and students within the community.

She has taken the lead to help coordinate community outreach events about college, career readiness, college financial options and preparation

She believes wholeheartedly in the purpose of GEAR UP and has strengthened efforts to collaborate with the city and school district to assure that information is provided to elementary, middle and high school students.

Being Larissa’s biggest advocate throughout her education has also encouraged Guerra to build relationships with many parents and families.

“Parents want to be involved. A lot of them work and are single. So as long as I can provide the information to them, it’s beneficial.”

Guerra attends and helps to coordinate all GEAR UP campus meetings. She also helps to recruit other parents to attend events and conferences.

“She takes great pride in educating other parents by walking the neighborhoods that are poverty-stricken and have high dropout and low school attendance rates to inform them of the unlimited possibilities and educational opportunities for success available to their children,” said Ida Garcia, GEAR UP facilitator.

“She tells the parents and students to take advantage of any and every opportunity offered by SBHS GEAR UP and/or the district.”

The program is currently networking to plan multiple future FAFSA (federal student aid) Nights at the campus this fall to ensure students and parents are aware that the FAFSA student aid application can be accessed as early as October this year.

“Adriana is a natural with a servant’s heart and is constantly spreading the awareness by networking with parents by making direct contact or through the telephone,” Garcia said.

“Adriana is living proof that parent leaders self-advocate and spread the college and career readiness and financial option and preparation process awareness.”