Kathleen “Katie” Hill, a recent advanced-degree graduate from the University of Nevada, Reno, is one of 30 alumni of GEAR UP
, or Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, selected to participate in the inaugural GEAR UP Alumni Leadership Academy
. The selected alumni leaders will travel to Washington, D.C., June 22-29, and receive training on grassroots advocacy, social media advocacy and leadership skills.
“As a member of the Leadership Academy, I hope to become a strong advocate for the Nevada State GEAR UP Program,” Hill said. “Through social media and time spent with legislators, I will strive to gain support for a federal program that has had a positive effect in so many students’ lives.”
For the first University GEAR UP Alumni Leadership Academy cohort, GEAR UP directors were asked to nominate individuals for the leadership academy, and Charlotte Curtis, GEAR UP state coordinator in the Nevada Department of Education, did not need to think twice.
“When we heard about the program, we immediately thought of Katie and encouraged her to apply,” Curtis said. “She has consistently demonstrated a commitment to broadening access to higher education by first-generation college-going students. Participation in the alumni leadership academy will not only contribute to Katie’s academic and professional development, but her learning will benefit the state of Nevada as well.”
Hill is not new to the GEAR UP program, as she has been active in the program since the first Nevada State GEAR UP grant in 2001.
“I happened to be a seventh-grader in an economically disadvantaged school the first year the Nevada State GEAR UP grant started, so I found an outlet and became part of the GEAR UP program,” Hill said.
Hill did not perceived barriers slow her down. She graduated valedictorian from McDermitt High School in Nevada’s Humboldt County in 2007. After high school, Hill attended the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and graduated magna cum laude in December 2010 with a bachelor’s of arts degree in psychology and a minor in human services.
Hill next attended the University of Nevada, Reno and graduated in May with a master’s of arts degree in educational leadership with an emphasis in higher education administration. This fall, she plans to continue her studies at the University and pursue her doctorate of philosophy, also in educational leadership.
“Upon completion of my doctoral degree at the University of Nevada, Reno, I want to use the skills I gain from both the Educational Leadership Program and my experience with the GEAR UP Alumni Leadership Academy in order to remain an advocate for GEAR UP,” Hill said. “I would like to see students from economically disadvantaged communities have more support to attend and succeed in post-secondary education.”
GEAR UP is a federally funded college access and success program serving approximately 700,000 low-income students across 43 states and three territories. GEAR UP programs serve students starting in seventh grade, and follow the students through high school graduation or first year of postsecondary enrollment. GEAR UP programs are designed to meet local educational needs, and services often include academic tutoring, financial literacy, college tours, parent engagement programs and more.
The Nevada State GEAR UP Program currently serves 2,674 seventh graders in 18 middle schools throughout Nevada, as well as students in the University of Nevada, Reno’s Dean’s Future Scholars Program. The program will add approximately 2,750 more students, who will be seventh graders during the 2013-14 school year. The GEAR UP Alumni Leadership Academy is a new program to engage alumni in a national effort to educate lawmakers and the public about the value of investing in targeted college access and success services. Using personal stories, alumni leaders will articulate the impact GEAR UP had on their success in postsecondary education.