BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) –Thanks to Gear Up Alabama, over 9,000 students throughout the Black Belt are getting the guidance they need to prepare for college. CBS 42’s Malique Rankin introduces us to the Taylor family, who have taken full advantage of the program. 

Gwendolyn Taylor’s kids will have a hard time giving excuses when it comes to attending college. That’s because the mother-of-five got her degree earlier this week. 

“Gear up is what lit a fire in me to go back,” says Gwendolyn Taylor. “I tried to go back before, but it never did come to fruition.”

Gear Up not only offers grants and scholarships to eligible students but also to their parents. Two of Taylor’s kids are enrolled now, and say watching their mom’s success is an inspiration.

“She be doing everything for me and it makes me want to go to college more,” says Elisha Taylor an 11th Grader at Aliceville Highschool in Pickens County.

In 2014, the US Department of Education awarded the 7-year grant to UAB. Samantha Briggs is the Gear Up AL project director. She says this program opens doors for thousands of students.

“So it’s a huge impact,” says Briggs. “A lot of our rural schools that are in high poverty communities might not otherwise have the resources necessary to provide some extra enrichment opportunities.”

Elisha Taylor will be in the 11th grade next year but is already narrowing down his college choices. He says his dreams are of a football scholarship and a career path in welding.

“I want to finish college,” says Elisha.

“It’s never too late. It’s never too late to go back and complete what you started,” says Taylor.

Gwendolyn Taylor got her associate’s degree in business from Bevill State Community College.

To learn more about the Gear Up Alabama program, click here.