Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools


Welcome to the GEAR UP Office at Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools. We serve the classes of 2017, 2018, 2020 and 2021.  We offer an array of services including workshops, field trips, and college advising. We also provide leadership, scholarship, internship opportunities and much more with the intention of preparing our students for college. We have two offices located in the A-173 for grades 8 and 9 and in the Library for grades 11 and 12.  Whichever office you visit, our staff is here to support students and parents from 7:30-4:30, Monday through Friday. Our doors, arms, and hearts are always open, so come on in!




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


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


Our Staff

Questions? Contact us at (Classes of 2017 & 2018) or (Classes of 2020 & 2021).

Classes of 2017 & 2018

  • Cheryl Morelan

    RFK Site Coordinator, GEAR UP1

    • College: Occidental College, Bachelor of Arts, Spanish Language 1979
      Cal State Los Angeles, Master of Arts, Educational Administration 1986
    • Favorite Movie: The Sound of Music
    • Favorite Food: Not mushrooms or bell peppers!
    • My biggest influence: My biggest influence has been my many family and friends who have beat the odds to improve their lives and the lives of those around them. I admire their positivity and grit.
    • Why I love my job: I love my job because I get to facilitate and participate in the good works of my GEAR UP team members. Through their hard work and dedication, they support our students to beat the odds and get the college education so essential to improving their future prospects in life.
  • Miguel Rodriguez

    Program Assistant

    • College: UC San Diego
    • Favorite Movie: Shawshank Redemption
    • Favorite Food: Steak Frites
    • My biggest influence: I cannot say that I have had a single biggest influence, but I can say that I have had family, teachers, friends, and many experiences that have made me who I am and have helped me grow.
    • Why I love my job: I love my job because it gives me the opportunity to do what I love, and that is helping our community to grow and prosper. I am just getting started, but I have already met amazing students and colleagues that are having a tremendous impact on my life.
  • Yoly Osuna

    Mentor Coordinator

    • College: CSULA: Bachelor of Arts in Urban Learning/ MS Teaching Credential
      CSUN: Master of Science in Communication Disorders (in progress)
    • Favorite Movie: Too many favorites to name!
    • Favorite Food: Chicken molé
    • My biggest influence: My dance teacher growing up was my biggest influence.  She was kind, patient, nurturing, and taught me to always follow my dreams.
    • Why I love my job: I love my job because I get to work with an amazing group of students.  Seeing them succeed and go off to college is extremely rewarding!
  • Penny Holland


    • College: B.S. Hofstra University
      M.S. City College of New York
    • Favorite Movie: In the present moment: The Queen of Katwe and Hidden Figures
    • Favorite Food: Unfortunately, I like them all, but seafood stands out.
    • My biggest influence: Life itself has been my biggest influence/I learn something new every day, especially from my daughters and from my all of my incredible students!
    • Why I love my job: Following students from 6th grade through their first year in college is an incredible opportunity. Seeing the growth, not only in the students’ academic accomplishments, but in their personality is a reward in itself! But the rewards keep coming because we will see them through their senior year and off to college. Seeing students win scholarships and being accepted to college can’t be beat!
  • Claudia C. Pena Clemente

    Community Representative

    • College: Santa Monica College, Bryman College
    • Favorite Movie: Temple Grandin
    • Favorite Food: I just love food, so I cannot say I have a favorite
    • My biggest influence: My son, he has taught me that it is okay to be different
    • Why I love my job: I love my job because education is the future. I dream of a better world.
  • Katty Secaida

    Community Representative

    • College: Los Angeles City College
    • Favorite Food: Seafood
    • My biggest influence: The most influential person in my life is my dad, Carlos. He has taught me to work hard and do my best, but also reminds me to always have fun. He has taught me to be positive in difficult circumstances. When he faces tough times, my dad chooses to focus on the good things and doesn’t get weighed down by the bad. He always says, “Life throws you punches, roll with it.” No matter what he is dealing with, he always manages to laugh…and always laughs hardest at his own jokes. Love you dad!
    • Why I love my job: I love my job because I get to help others. I get to provide them with helpful information regarding workshops or any GEAR UP events.

Classes of 2020 & 2021

  • Mr. Gantt

    Site Coordinator at Kim Academy and RFK Community Schools

    • College:  Mr. Gantt got his Associates of Arts degree and played baseball at Los Angeles City College. He then attended California State University, Northridge and received a degree in Liberal Studies. He then went to Pepperdine University and back to CSUN to get his Master’s and Credential in Education and Master’s and Credential in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies respectively.
    • Favorite Movie: Princess Bride
    • Favorite Food: Sushi
    • My biggest influence:  My parents…they both taught me the quality of hard work.
    • Why I love my job:  I was the first one in my family to go to college and I have learned college has given me many opportunities.  I look forward to helping students get into college which will give them many opportunities.
  • Jameia McDuffie

    Academic Advisor

    • College:  University of Hawaii, Hilo (BA -Communications), Loyola Marymount University (MA-Guidance & Counseling)
    • Favorite Movie: New Jack City/City of God
    • Favorite Food: Tacos/Burritos
    • My biggest influence: My parents and the sport of basketball were two of the largest influences in my life. My parents always taught me the importance of education and self-respect. If you want to be anything in this world it starts with self. Athletics afforded me the opportunity to travel many places and overcome adversities at a young age. I credit a lot of my successes to what I learned playing basketball.
    • Why I love my job: Providing opportunities for students to be empowered in their own education and self-growth is a job I take very seriously. The work I do as an academic advisor enables me to be a guiding light for many students.
  • Rocio Gaona

    Academic Advisor

    • College:  Cal State University Northridge, BA in Sociology
      Currently attending Cal State University Los Angeles, Masters in School-Based family Counseling
    • Favorite Movie: Wayne’s World
    • Favorite Food: Mexican food
    • My biggest influence:  Older brothers and sisters because they wanted us the younger siblings to avoid repeating the mistakes they had made.
    • Why I love my job: I simply enjoy working with today’s youth.
  • : Elizabeth Tapia

    Academic Adviser

    • College: UCLA
    • Favorite Movie: Home Alone 2: Lost in New York City
    • Favorite Food: Carne asada and fries
    • My biggest influence:  Mr. Tilley my 10th, 11th, and 12th grade social studies teacher. He taught AP World, Geography, and Art History. Mr. Tillery opened my eyes to a world other than my own.  In his class I learned about different cultures, religions, and histories. Through the classes I took I became more open-minded about the world, and pursued my history degree and teaching endeavors. I still hope to travel to all of the places that I have studied, and maybe one day return to tell those tales in the classroom as he did.
    • Why I love my job: I love working with a team that promotes parent involvement and student academic success. I do believe that every student should have the opportunity to pursue their dreams, and I want to be a part of that journey in whichever way possible.
  • Heydi Patricia Rivera De Martinez

    Community Representative

    • College: In Elementary and Middle School, I studied at an all-girls school directed by nuns.  For High School, I studied Chemical Biology. I studied three years of Law at a University in my country, El Salvador.  In the United States, I studied English Language at an Adult School.
    • Favorite Movie: Titanic
    • Favorite Food: Salvadorian, Mexican, etc.
    • My biggest influence: My parents because they taught me good values and to respect others.  They always encouraged me to study and to move forward.  And, my teachers because they were always willing to listen to all my concerns.
    • Why I love my job: I love my job because I can help other parents see their children accomplish their dreams.  With the information we offer through GEAR UP 4 LA, be able to change the misconception that a higher education is not attainable due to lack of resources (financial, etc.) and to see those happy faces when we explain that it is possible to culminate a career and change the future of our children.
  • Lorena Almaguer

    Community Representative

    • College: Watterson College, Certified Paralegal
    • Favorite Movie: Les Misérables
    • Favorite Food: Mexican
    • My biggest influence: The person that most influenced my life was a family friend by the name of Alma Worcester.  I met her when I was about 8 years old, a few years after arriving to the United States from Mexico.  She selflessly embraced my entire family, treated us as her own family, and helped guide us through our struggles as an immigrant family. Thanks to her, I was fortunate enough to be able to receive a good education and get a different perspective on life.  She was a proud co-worker of Mother Teresa.
    • Why I love my job: I love my job because I really enjoy helping others.  I get to interact with the families we serve, empower them to advocate for themselves, and provide them with the tools they need to make a difference in their lives.  I believe everyone has a gift to share, and I am fortunate enough to be in a position that allows me to do that every day.