In the News

A graduate of the Yale-Bridgeport GEAR UP Partnership Project has been chosen for the highly competitive GEAR UP Alumni Leadership Academy (GUALA), Class of 2017.

Saul Almazan lives in Bridgeport, and is a 2014 graduate of Central Magnet High School in the city. While in high school he was part of Yale-Bridgeport GEAR UP, a partnership between the Yale Department of Psychiatry and Bridgeport Public Schools. The program is directed by Nadia Ward, PhD, associate professor of psychiatry.

GEAR UP, or Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, is a federally funded program that provides services to help increase the number of students who are prepared for and succeed in higher education. The program serves approximately 570,000 students in low-income schools across 43 states and one territory.

Yale-Bridgeport GEAR UP’s region serves over 1,000 high school seniors. The students have participated in the program since they were in seventh-grade in 2011-12.

The National Council for Community and Education Partnerships created the GUALA program to better support the GEAR UP mission nationwide. GUALA works to advance college and career readiness in communities by providing 12 months of training for alumni leaders on topics related to peer-to-peer outreach and mentoring, social media engagement, public speaking, and education policy.

Almazan, a junior psychology major at the University of Bridgeport, was one of 24 applicants selected from a nationwide pool to participate in GUALA. He traveled to Washington, D.C., in July for a week of leadership training.

“Saul has always been a model student and exemplary role model. He is the perfect choice to represent the State of Connecticut in this prestigious youth leadership training opportunity,” Ward said. “Saul is a natural leader among his peers. His powerful personal story is one that must be heard by policymakers in Washington.”

Almazan began to immerse himself in GEAR UP in his junior year in high school, and worked as a junior counselor during the summer residential program at Yale.

In college, he has made the Dean’s and President’s lists, and was Student Ambassador for the Purple Night Society. Last year, he won the position of Senator for the School of Arts and Sciences for the Student Government Association, and was promoted to Senior Student Ambassador. He also represented the college’s Model United Nations Club at the National Model United Nations Conference in New York. Over the summer, he traveled to South Korea to study International Business and Korean Language.

He aims to do advocacy work for GEAR UP on all levels while continuing to mentor members of the Class of 2017.

For more information about Yale-Bridgeport GEAR UP Partnership, please contact Barb Nangle, at 203-789-7645 or or go to the web site To learn more about GUALA, please contact Alex Chough at NCCEP at 202-530-1135 or