University of Nevada, Reno graduate student Katie Hill took in the sights and visited with Nevada lawmakers during her "Gear Up" Alumni Leadership program in Washington, D.C.
UNR’s Katie Hill started participating in the “Gear Up” leadership program when she was in seventh grade, and was attending an economically disadvantaged school in Henderson. Katie got lots of help from Gear Up, and became a successful student. She recently graduated from UNR with a master’s degree in educational leadership. Now she’s going for her doctorate degree. She’s come a long way.
Gear Up stands for “Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs.” It’s designed to help kids prepare for success in college. The federally funded program has helped more than 2,700 seventh graders in Nevada and is growing here in the Silver State.
When I heard that Katie was selected to go to Washington D.C. for the first-ever alumni gathering of Gear Up participants, I asked her to send me updates from her trip. During a visit to Capitol Hill, she says they met with White House administrators and Department of Education staffers. “We told our stories that we had been practicing so much, to share our experiences,” she said. “We asked for congressional support, while we shared new ideas on engagement with the White House administration and Gear Up staff at DOE.”
Katie met with Congressman Mark Amodei, Senator Dean Heller’s staff and Senator Harry Reid. She toured the monuments and learned how to advocate by telling personal stories.
I asked Katie what she took away from her time in Washington. “I am motivated and inspired,” she said. “In addition to political advocacy and mentoring, we attended a workshop discussing the importance of social advocacy and how we can make a difference,” she added. They also started a blog.
Katie says she’ll keep in touch with other Gear Up Alumni as they get the word out about the value of investing in college success programs for middle school students. She has quite a story to tell about her successes along the way.