Sul Ross State University student and former GEAR UP participant Daisy Perez, Presidio, has been selected to participate in the inaugural GEAR UP Alumni Leadership Academy (GUALA).
GUALA is a 12-month leadership development program for alumni of the federal GEAR UP program. The selected Alumni Leaders will travel to Washington, DC, in June and receive training on grassroots advocacy, social media advocacy, and leadership skills during a week-long retreat. The Alumni Leaders will return home to work toward creating positive change in education policy for her younger peers.
"The GEAR UP program has offered me so many opportunities to help me reach my educational dreams," she said. "I am not sure where I would be in life if it was not for the support of the GEAR UP program and their staff. Having been the recipient of so much assistance, I cannot help but want to pay it forward and help kids in the same way that I was helped."
GEAR UP, or Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, is a federally funded college access and success program serving approximately 700,000 low-income students access 43 states and 3 territories. GEAR UP programs serve students starting in the 7th grade, and follow the students through their first year of postsecondary education. GEAR UP programs are designed to meet local educational needs, and services often include academic tutoring, financial literacy, FAFSA completion, college tours, parent engagement programs, and more.
The Big Bend Region has been served by the Sul Ross GEAR UP program since 2005. Currently the program serves 972 eighth grade students who are enrolled in the Alpine, Del Rio, Presidio and Terlingua school districts. These students can expect to be supported by the GEAR UP program for the next five years.
Perez will be assisting these students by advocating for their educational needs at the local, state, and national level. She will also be able to articulate the impact and importance of GEAR UP to the students by using her personal success story. Perez was nominated for the Leadership Academy by Sul Ross GEAR UP project director Patrick Clingman.
"I have had the pleasure of working with Daisy for four years, and aside from seeing her graduate high school and enroll at Sul Ross, this is one of the most exciting moments I have been able to share with her," Clingman said. "While I wish all of our former GEAR UP students could take part in this experience, Daisy is extremely qualified and it was an honor to nominate her for this opportunity."
The Sul Ross GEAR UP program will be hosting two week-long summer camps for students entering the ninth grade, on June 9-14 and June 17-22.
For more information, contact the GEAR UP program, (432) 837-8024.