Bernstein & STEM


Welcome to Bernstein-STEM GEAR UP

Bernstein and STEM belong to the second of two GEAR UP 4 LA grants operating at 16 school sites in the Belmont/Bernstein/ Kennedy Zones of Choice. Our unique cohort model follows the same group of students for seven years, meaning our current eighth and ninth graders – the graduating classes of 2020 and 2021 – have been with GEAR UP 4 LA since 2014.

Fifty percent of our students live within the Promise Zone, an area designated by President Obama’s initiative to expand educational opportunities. They face challenges including transience, living below the poverty line, and being the first in their family to attend college.

In its fifteen years, GEAR UP 4 LA has provided services for over 13,000 students at over twenty campuses.  Stop by the GEAR UP office anytime.




Our peer mentor program develops leadership qualities, strengthens public speaking skills, and trains students to become role models for their peers and advocates for their community. As mentors, students reach out to their peers and families with the premise that if individual students have the opportunity to climb the ladder of success, they will bring their families and communities along with them.


  • serve as a leader and role model to your peers
  • get fellow students excited about school and learning
  • attend regular meetings to build your leadership skills
  • encourage your fellow students to do well in their classes
  • become a better public speaker

Mentor Club Happenings

Dates to Remember

  • GU Mentor Club Lunch Meeting dates to be announced


To be a peer-mentor, students must have a 2.0 GPA or higher, a teacher/staff recommendation and parent permission. If you are interested in becoming a mentor, complete the online application.  Please stop by the GEAR UP office if you need help completing the application.

Click the button below to fill out an application!


FOR TEACHERS AND STAFF: If you think a student has what it takes to be a mentor, fill out a recommendation form by clicking on the button below!


Upcoming Events

2/12/188:30-10:30 AM

Understanding the PSAT Parent Workshop

Bernstein Auditorium8:30-10:30 

Our Staff

Questions? Contact us at (Ms. Barbara Swenson) or (Ms. Irma Azurdia Sandoval).

  • Angelique (Jackie) Villalobos

    Academic Advisor

  • Barbara Swenson


    • College: Undergrad: University of Wisconsin – Stout; Masters: Concordia University – Irvine
    • Favorite Movie: The Sound of Music
    • Favorite Food: Ice cream
    • My biggest influence: My parents have been the biggest influence in my life.  They encouraged me to make my decisions and goals, and supported me every step of the way.
    • Why I love my job: Making college and higher education accessible to every student is my passion.  After teaching for 20 years and being involved with the AVID and GATE programs, I saw that any student can benefit from a personalized learning experience, and GEAR UP provides just that!!
  • Academic Advisor

  • Irma Azurdia Sandoval

    Community Representative

    • College: Graduated from Los Angeles High School and obtained Office Administration Associate Degree at Los Angeles City College
    • Favorite Movie: The Fault in Our Stars and Big Hero 6
    • Favorite Food: Italian Cuisine
    • My biggest influence: Single Parents- I love to learn and admire their stories.  Each is unique but each shows courage and how parents give their life’s work for their children.  Their sacrifice is huge and admirable.  Whenever I am down, I think of those stories and it provides me with inspiration.
    • Why I love my job: I joined GEAR UP 4 LA as a way to pursue my passion which is working with the community in a non- profit organization and help students and their families improve their future. In the end, our students are our future.