Bernstein & STEM


Welcome to Bernstein-STEM GEAR UP

Bernstein and STEM belong to the second of four GEAR UP 4 LA grants operating at eight school sites in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Our unique cohort model follows the same group of students for seven years, meaning our current tenth and eleventh 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.

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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

Mentor Club Happenings

Dates to Remember

  • GU Mentor Club Lunch Meetings: every Wednesday. STEM in Ms. Malhi's room 411 and Bernstein in Mr. Owusu's room 508


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


OGID for Peer Mentors (Part II)

HBHS and STEMRFK (tentative) 

Our Staff

Questions? Contact us at [email protected] (Ms. Kristin Didrickson) or [email protected] (Ms. Tanya Henriquez-Koenig).

  • Angelique (Jackie) Villalobos

    Academic Advisor

    • College: Occidental College
    • Favorite Movie: The Big Fish
    • Favorite Food: Pizza.  Anything with bread or cheese
    • My biggest influence: When I was deciding where to go to college, my Dad told me to not look at the price.  He said that he would work until he no longer could to ensure that I would have a brighter future.  If you knew my dad, this defines him as a father in a nutshell.  He has never let me down, and has completely shaped me to be the person I am today.
    • Why I love my job: The students.  They are always the reason! They give me such a unique motivation and are constantly pushing me to better – and they don’t even realize it!!!  I am inspired by them daily!
  • Kristin Didrickson


    • College: Undergraduate:  The American University  Graduate:  UCLA and CSUN
    • Favorite Movie: Star Wars (Episode IV)
    • Favorite Food: Grilled Cheese Sandwich and French Fries
    • My biggest influence: My parents have been my biggest influence.  They raised me to be compassionate, gracious, and curious. I have also been greatly influenced by the experience of spending my junior year of high school as a student in Germany.
    • Why I love my job:  I love my job because I get to work with an awesome team of people who are passionate and beyond dedicated to students.  I love seeing students’ faces light up as they realize their dreams.  I also love that GEAR UP follows the students and their families over the course of 7 years, so we really get to know them.
  • Michelle Cifuentes

    Academic Advisor


    • College: University of California, Irvine (UCI)
    • Favorite Movie: Wayne’s World
    • Favorite Food: Anything with fries
    • My biggest influence: My sisters are the reason I do the work that I do.  I am the eldest of five, second mom to all four of them.  I want to be able to provide them the skills to be successful young individuals, with the opportunity to receive a higher education.
    • Why I love my job: Coming from a disadvantage community, I found comfort and peace in academia.  I want to give students the opportunity to find their own peace among staff who believes and cares for them.
  • Evelyn Menjivar

    Senior Academic Advisor

    • College: UCLA
    • Favorite Movie: Forest Gump
    • Favorite Food: I can’t decide.
    • My biggest influence: My biggest influence is my desire to fulfill my goals. My parents faced intense challenges to build a living and I am so grateful that they gave me the opportunity to pursue my own dreams.
    • Why I love my job:  I get to learn every day from many different people. Growing up, I didn’t know about my opportunities after high school and I made uninformed decisions. I grew passionate to make sure high school students know their potential and possibilities, especially those they may have not considered. I feel most inspired after learning about students’ different lives, interests and motivations.
  • Tanya Henriquez-Koenig

    Community Representative

    • College: took classes at CSUN
    • Favorite Movie: Pride and Prejudice
    • Favorite Food: Italian
    • My biggest influence: My father was the biggest influence in my life.  He came to this country in the 60’s with my mother and 3 siblings, and learned the language and took odd jobs to take care of his family. He took community college classes late in life but always encouraged us to go to college and get an education.
    • Why I love my job: I love my job because I love to see the look on a student’s and parent’s face when they find out that going to college is a possibility.
  • Claudia C. Pena Clemente

    Community Representative

    • College:  Santa Monica College and Bryant College Medical Administrative Assistant program
    • Favorite Movie: Temple Grandin and My Name is Khan
    • Favorite Food: Mexican, Italian, Mediterranean and of course Salvadorian food.
    • My biggest influence: There are two people who has made me the woman that I am.  My grandmother who raised me to be a hard working woman and my son who has taught me to always fight back, never give up and understand the world from a different perspective.  He has made me a better person and because of him I learn new things every day.
    • Why I love my job: I love my job because keeping track of data is a very important part of the grant. I love data and it’s one of my biggest passions.