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UW Student Attends GEAR UP Leadership Training in Washington, D.C.

August 8, 2014 — Isabella Buongiorno of Cheyenne, a University of Wyoming environmental and natural resources student, received training on grassroots advocacy, social media advocacy and leadership skills during the recent GEAR UP Alumni Leadership Academy (GUALA) in Washington, D.C.

She was one of 30 participants selected from a nationwide pool of applicants and the only participant chosen from Wyoming.

GUALA is a 12-month leadership development program for alumni of the federal GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) program. The selected alumni leaders work to create positive change in education policy for their younger peers.

Buongiorno will serve as a GUALA advocate through May 2015. She joined GEAR UP in seventh grade, and her positive experiences with the program contributed to her applying to become an alumni leader.

“I wanted to give back to the program that had given me so much and make sure that other students have these opportunities, too,” she says.

The training she received in Washington, D.C., will help her educate others about the importance and value of GEAR UP by sharing personal experiences about the challenges of preparing for, applying to and paying for college. Concerning her new role, Buongiorno says, “Personal stories are what make advocating more powerful, especially in the case of GEAR UP.”

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 Wyoming, located at UW, serves more than 2,000 seventh- through 12th-graders and college freshmen statewide. Services include academic tutoring, financial literacy, FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) completion assistance, college campus tours and parent engagement programs.

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

For more information about GEAR UP Wyoming, call (307) 766-6189 or email

Isabella Buongiorno of Cheyenne will work to create positive change in education policy for her younger peers in the GEAR UP program. (UW Photo)

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