GEAR UP video spotlights Waipahu High students striving for college

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Elizabeth Simon, 864-0527
Media Specialist, Office of Student Equity, Excellence and Diversity
Pat Masters, 956-9317
Assistant Director of SEED, Office of Student Equity, Excellence and Diversity
Posted: Sep 17, 2012

The UH Manoa Office of Student Equity, Excellence and Diversity (SEED) is marking National GEAR UP Week in September by announcing the release of a video about the Heritage Language Program at Waipahu High School. 

The video, "GEARING UP with Heritage Language: Waipahu’s Way to College Success," visits with Waipahu High students in their classrooms and homes as they prepare to perform at the annual Heritage Language Showcase titled, “Pinakbet and Panipopo.” The video may be viewed online at

Funded by a federal grant and administered by SEED, the GEAR UP classes in Samoan and Ilokano heritage are designed to help Waipahu High students gain the confidence necessary for academic success at the college level.

“Heritage Language is one of many GEAR UP strategies intended to increase college preparation at Waipahu High School, where we have a concentration of low-income students who are also the first in their families to seek higher education," said Pat Masters, Principal Investigator for UH Manoa GEAR UP Waipahu.  "The high school's staff and Waipahu community have partnered in this effort to encourage students in their academic and career pursuits."

GEAR UP, which stands for Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, utilizes funding from the U.S. Department of Education to help boost college degree attainment in low-income communities. 

The UH Manoa GEAR UP Heritage Language Program is uniquely tailored to meet academic needs at Waipahu High, where the majority of students speak Ilokano and Samoan.  These groups are also underrepresented in higher education. 

New research shows that connecting underrepresented and low-income ethnic groups with the customs and languages of their heritage increases the ability to read, write and speak cogently in English.

Faculty members and researchers within UH Manoa's Ilokano and Samoan language departments contributed to the curriculum.

The UH Manoa GEAR UP Waipahu cohort is comprised of high school juniors who have been involved in the program since the seventh grade.  In addition to the Heritage Language Program, activities for the cohort include exposure to college through field trips, and  workshops for parents and children.

The SEED home page is at