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!

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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 [email protected] (Classes of 2017 & 2018) or [email protected] (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.
  • 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!
  • 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: Los Angeles City College, Associates of Arts
      California State University, Northridge, Liberal Arts
      Pepperdine University, Master’s and Credential in Education
      California State University, Northridge, Master’s and Credential in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies
    • Favorite Movie: The Sandlot
    • Favorite Food: Sushi
    • My biggest influence:  My parents…they both taught me the quality of hard work and perseverence.
    • Why I love my job:  I was the first one in my family to go to college and  I look forward to helping students get into college which will give them many opportunities in their future.
  • 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.
  • Jose Gaspar

    Academic Advisor

    • College: University of California, Berkeley
    • Favorite Movie: Coming to America
    • Favorite Food: Steak (medium) and Fries. Side of ranch/tabasco and a Dr. Pepper.
    • My biggest influence: My mom is my biggest influence. She taught me that you only lose when you give up. She also taught me that it is impossible to be sad on a full stomach.
    • Why I love my job: I love helping students. Simple as that. J
  • 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.
  • 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.