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UW and Community Colleges to Celebrate National GEAR UP Week

September 10, 2015
group of young men and women outdoors in front of rocky background
GEAR UP students from around the state learned about science and nature in Curt Gowdy State Park during a weeklong summer camp at the University of Wyoming. (GEAR UP Photo)

The University of Wyoming and state community colleges will celebrate the success of the GEAR UP college access program with events beginning Monday, Sept. 21.

The week commemorates the continuing success of Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP), a program that provides students and families the support and resources they need for college success.

Since its inception in 1999, GEAR UP has improved educational outcomes for millions of low-income, minority and disadvantaged students across the United States. GEAR UP Wyoming, in partnership with Wyoming’s seven community colleges, served more than 2,300 students during the 2014-15 school year.

Isabella Buongiorno, of Cheyenne, now a senior at UW, is one of many success stories for GEAR UP Wyoming. She joined GEAR UP in seventh grade, and her positive experiences with the program contributed to her applying and becoming a recent participant in the national GEAR UP Alumni Leadership Academy (GUALA).

“I have had the most amazing experiences with GEAR UP, and the program has helped me immensely throughout my academic career,” Buongiorno says. “The GEAR UP mentors were always supportive and willing to answer my questions.”

The experience and training she has received through the GEAR UP and GUALA programs 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.

“Personal stories are what make advocating more powerful, especially in the case of GEAR UP,” she says. Her statement highlights why National GEAR UP Week is so important to all who are involved in the program, adds Jenny Ingram, GEAR UP Wyoming manager.

“National GEAR UP Week is a wonderful opportunity for us in Wyoming to celebrate the successes of our GEAR UP students and the people who help them realize their successes,” Ingram says.

Following the celebratory spirit, the University of Wyoming GEAR UP Program and its partner community college sites have planned the following festivities during National GEAR UP Week:

Casper College plans a weeklong celebration that will include a family barbecue with guest speakers. The week’s focus will be on students and families. A luncheon for partners will highlight their continued support as well as staff appreciation.

Central Wyoming College plans a media blitz. Ads will be placed on the electronic signs around campus as well as on radio. National GEAR UP Week celebration and contact cards will be distributed to GEAR UP participants as well as school personnel. During home room at participating schools, Crunch candy bars will be passed out with the message, “If you’re in a crunch, call GEAR UP.”

Eastern Wyoming College will set up a table at the student center and hand out GEAR UP promotional items. Posters will be hung on the EWC campus and placed in all of the schools to advertise National GEAR UP Week. Freshmen and sophomores will be encouraged to report on what GEAR UP means to them.

Laramie County Community College staff members will wear GEAR UP shirts during National GEAR UP week. They also will show videos during school announcements and place ads in the local media.

Northern Wyoming Community College District plans to create a “Dream Wall” outside of its campus office. Students will write down their educational dreams and/or goals on a word bubble that will be attached to the wall with their photo. Photos of the finished wall will be mailed to Wyoming’s governor, senators and representatives.

Northwest College has distributed “GEAR UP Works” signs to its liaisons, who will take photographs with the participants. Afterward, they will attach details to the photographs such as the number of students served, demographics and objectives. They will mail the photos to Wyoming’s senators and representatives. News releases will be sent to local media outlets.

Western Wyoming Community College (WWCC) will host an open house to celebrate the new location. Faculty, staff, GEAR UP students and families will be invited to visit and hear about the services offered to students in the community. Current WWCC GEAR UP college freshmen will be available to discuss their first-hand experiences in the program. All outreach sites will conduct in-school celebrations with high schools and junior high schools served by WWCC.

The University of Wyoming GEAR UP Program will host an event at the Wyoming Union for GEAR UP students, peer mentors and others. The students will fill out “Thank You” cards that will be mailed to Wyoming’s senators and representatives. News releases will be sent to local media outlets.

For more information about GEAR UP Wyoming, contact Chrissie M. Henschler at (307) 766-6736 or To learn more about the national GEAR UP program, call the National Council for Community and Education Partnerships at (202) 530-1135 or visit

About GEAR UP Wyoming: GEAR UP Wyoming is funded through a grant from the U.S. Department of Education totaling more than $3.5 million annually, with an additional $3.5 million annually provided by in-kind and scholarship contributions.

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