In the News

June 8, 2016 —Three Wyoming students have been selected as GEAR UP Alumni Leadership Academy (GUALA) representatives. Only 24 students were chosen from a nationwide pool of applicants.

GUALA is a 12-month leadership development program for alumni of the federal GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) program, with the state office at the University of Wyoming.

Students Claudia Vanessa Hernandez Marquez, KaylaRae Lawrence and William Brooks Van Buren will travel to Washington, D.C., this month to receive training on grassroots advocacy, social media advocacy and leadership skills during a weeklong retreat. The training will help them to educate others about the importance of GEAR UP and assist toward creating positive change in education policy for younger GEAR UP students.

GEAR UP Wyoming is an educational assistance program at UW that prepares income-eligible Wyoming students for success in higher education. The program is funded 50 percent through a grant from the U.S. Department of Education totaling $3.5 million annually, with an additional $3.5 million provided by in-kind and scholarship contributions from UW, Wyoming’s community colleges and the Wyoming Department of Education.

Marquez, from Rock Springs, received her associate degree from Western Wyoming Community College before transferring to UW. She is the first person in her family to attend college. As a GUALA, she looks forward to the opportunity to help other GEAR UP students.

“I know, for a fact, that I would not be where I am if it was not for GEAR UP,” Marquez says. “I want others to have positive change in their lives, and I want to help make that change.”

Van Buren graduated from Campbell County High School in Gillette and is currently attending Purdue University. Due to his family’s financial hardships, and bouts of homelessness, Van Buren changed schools often and missed four years of elementary school education. He joined GEAR UP in high school.

“Without GEAR UP, I would have been very lost in deciding what I wanted to do, as well as with the entire college application process,” he says. Van Buren was the 2015 national GEAR UP Youth of the Year.

Lawrence grew up in Riverton and attends Eastern Wyoming College in Torrington. After being diagnosed with a learning disability in elementary school, she learned techniques that helped her succeed in school. Now, she wants to give back to the GEAR UP program as a GUALA.

“I know, without their support, I would not have grown to become the person that I am today,” Lawrence says. “GEAR UP has helped every step of the way along my journey from high school to college.”

GUALA is offered by the National Council for Community and Education Partnerships, GEAR UP’s national training and technical assistance provider. The Kresge Foundation provides funding for the program.

For more information about GEAR UP Wyoming, call (307) 766-6189 or email gearupwy@uwyo.edu.

Source: University of Wyoming News

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