Let me introduce myself. My name is Stephani Ruiz. I am 19 years old. I am a GEAR-UP Alumni leader, and I am also a very proud TRiO student. First of all, I want to thank God for allowing me to be here and for blessing me with this amazing opportunity. I had the amazing opportunity to attend an all expense paid Leadership academy in Washington D.C. back in June.
I was chosen 1 out of 30 students’ who were selected to be part of the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs’ Alumni Leadership Association recipients to represent NEVADA STATE GEAR UP in Washington, D.C. I am also in the Alumni Leadership Academy for GEAR UP, a 12-month program designed to train GEAR UP alumni in advocacy and leadership. For you guys that do not know what GEAR UP, is it is a federally funded, college outreach/postsecondary education initiative that began in 1998 under the U.S. Department of Education and is the largest college outreach program in the nation, with more than 600 high school students from the GEAR UP. Its mission is to increase the number of low-income middle- and high-school students who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education.
While I was in DC I was able to attend workshops that helped me prepare myself in order to advocate for GEAR UP. I was able to advocate at the White House, The House of Representatives, The United States Senate, and at The Department of Education.My role as a GEAR UP Alumni Leader is to advocate to our state representatives and senators, and also promoting GEAR UP nationally to our Congressional delegation on Capitol Hill.
My dream is just to help others in any way I can. I have been so fortunate to be part of two amazing programs. GEAR UP and TRiO SSS. I want to promote self-advocacy and I want to be an example to others that even a low-income, first generation student can go to school and succeed. All we need is the correct resources to help us achieve our dreams!
I want to thank Mrs. Emily for helping me get to Washington DC. She helped me write my essay. She is the one who has inspired me to always go forward with my dreams. To never let anyone tell me I can’t. Thank you Ms. Emily! This upcoming year not only do I expect to make GEAR UP proud. I also promise to make TRiO SSS very proud of me too!
Expect to hear from me soon,
GUALA Class of 2013-2014
Representing Nevada State GEAR UP