Our College Advisors

  • Vanessa Almonte

    • College:
      University of California, San Diego (BA); University of Southern California (currently)
    • Favorite Movie:
      Pan’s Labyrinth
    • Favorite Food:
      My mom’s enchiladas
    • My biggest influence:
      My biggest influence is my lovely mom. Her strength and hard work as a single mother has always been the reason why I always push myself to pursue my dreams. I’ve learned to use both negative and positive times as life lessons, as something to grow from. She has taught me to be kind, strong and to always be myself. It is because of her unconditional love for me and my siblings that I am the person I am today.
    • Why I love my  job:
      A lot of the youth in our community don’t always realize how much they are capable of. Working with this program has allowed us to be that voice that reminds them to “just keep swimming” no matter how hard the situation might be. We have the opportunity to help these students get closer to their dreams no matter their G.P.A and that is the greatest blessing of all.
  • Miguel Rodriguez

    • College:
      UC San Diego
    • Favorite Movie:
      Shawshank Redemption
    • Favorite Food:
      Steak fries
    • 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.
  • Casey Weld

    • College:
      Occidental College – Philosopy
    • Favorite Movie:
      Belly
    • Favorite Food:
      Buffalo Chicken
    • My biggest influence:
      Bernie Sanders taught me to never stop fighting for what is right. Our revolution will empower all people in our country regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, or socioeconomic status.
    • Why I love my job:
      I love the students that I work with and am inspired by them every day. I am motivated by the positivity and optimism that our students exude, and it pushes me to do my job to the best of my ability. Overall though, I love my job because I genuinely believe that the work we do at GEAR UP is contributing to the greater good of our community, city, country, and world.