OU Reveals $86 Million ‘Gear Up For Life’ Program Providing College Opportunities

A new program at OU will provide opportunities for those who may not have gotten the chance to attend college. News 9's Jordan Fremstad spoke with one student who said it changed his life.

Thursday, November 9th 2023, 10:30 pm

By: News 9, Jordan Fremstad


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College degrees create opportunities but not everyone has the means to go to college. A new program through The University of Oklahoma looks to change that for thousands of people. Education leaders said they are delivering on a promise to gear students up for life.  

The OU fight song captures the pride of OU, and it means a little more to OU Senior Juan Trujillo because an education at OU wasn’t always possible. “It’s the path to success,” Trujillo said. “I was an undocumented immigrant student, and I was unsure if I could even go to college.” 

OU president Joseph Harroz Jr. pointed out the reality,” said Harroz, at an OU grant announcement on Thursday. “People in the lower socioeconomic rung through no fault of their own cannot have access to those.” 

When Trujillo’s family moved to the U.S. Juan couldn’t afford college. “I really didn’t think about college much,” he said. 

Until Oklahoma’s Gear Up program and Oklahoma Promise changed Juan’s life – he'll soon graduate from OU with a Bachelor of Science and industrial systems engineering. Not only did this program change the path for Trujillo’s future. It also made history for his family. 

“My parents, they didn’t get to go to college,” Trujillo said. “I learned to mature really fast just because of the situation I was in,” Trujillo said. 

As lights shined down, and the cameras rolled, the stage was set for a big announcement OU revealed its Gear Up for Life program received $86 million dollars to help underprivileged students at 28 Oklahoma Schools go to college. 

The program is supported by the K20 Center for Educational and Community Renewal at the University. Gear Up for Life will help students and their families at 28 Oklahoma Schools prepare for attending college. 

The U.S. Department of Education funded $43 million with equal matching funding from Oklahoma’s Promise program that supports college funding for low-income Oklahoma students. “It’s gonna really help the students,” Trujillo said.  

Leaders at OU said this funding will orchestrate a path for students, like Trujillo, to make their college dreams possible.

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