FRANKFORT, Ky. – Twenty-five high school students were honored in a ceremony in the State Capitol Sept. 20 as part of the first Kentucky GEAR UP Week Celebration. More than a hundred students, parents and educators gathered in the Capitol Rotunda to recognize the GEAR UP Students of the Year for their leadership among their peers, personal accomplishments, and academic achievements.
“Today, we celebrate the next generation of Kentucky’s leaders,” said Bob King, president of the Council on Postsecondary Education. “Programs like GEAR UP are vital in making sure our high school students, especially those who are the first in their family to attend college, are ready to succeed when they graduate – academically, financially, socially and emotionally.”
GEAR UP, or Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, is a federally funded program designed to create a sustainable college-going culture and increase the number of students who stay in school and succeed in postsecondary education.
“Our GEAR UP high school students received more than 156,000 hours of college and career advising just last year and thousands visited a college campus,” said Dr. Aaron Thompson, interim president of Kentucky State University and board chair of the National Council for Community and Education Partnerships. “As a result, we’ve seen more students meeting college readiness benchmarks and taking the necessary steps to plan for college and a career.”
One GEAR UP Student of the Year was nominated by program staff in each participating school as an emerging student leader in good academic standing with proven leadership among their peers and consistent participation in program and school activities. All nominated students submitted a video essay entitled “What GEAR UP Means to Me.”
The event occurred during National GEAR UP Week when 127 GEAR UP projects across the nation celebrated the impact of the program. In recognition, Governor Bevin proclaimed Sept. 19-23, 2016 as GEAR UP Week in Kentucky.
Kentucky has four GEAR UP programs: the state grant administered by the Council on Postsecondary Education and three GEAR UP partnership grants led by Berea College. Combined, these programs help more than 46,000 Kentucky students and families in 130 low-income middle and high schools understand how to plan, apply and pay for college.
GEAR UP Kentucky 2015-16 Students of the Year
Boyd: Nathan Nishimoto, Paul G. Blazer High School
Calloway: Tabytha Reed, Calloway County High School
Campbell: Jarid Casebolt, Bellevue High School, Samara Hall, Newport High School
Clark: Elizabeth John, George Rogers Clark High School
Fayette: Mercedes Adams, Paul Laurence Dunbar High School
Fleming: Emily Steele, Fleming County High School
Gallatin: Ashley Platte, Gallatin County High School
Graves: Ian Puckett, Graves County High School
Greenup: Hannah Darnell, Greenup County High School
Hart: Rachel McIntire, Hart County High School
Kenton: Mikayla Lawrence, Holmes High School
Marshall: Alisha Boone, Marshall County High School
Metcalfe: Jacob Bennett, Metcalfe County High School
Monroe: Elliott Hammer, Monroe County High School
Owen: Jessica Hardin: Owen County High School
Robertson: Carley Turner, Robertson County School
Trigg: Summer Cottrell, Trigg County High School
Trimble: Jaiden Beatty, Trimble County High School
Washington: Kyle Schrader, Washington County High School
GEAR UP Promising Appalachian Leaders in Service
Bell: Cole Raines, Bell County High School
Estill: Abby Winkle, Estill County High School
Laurel: Martina McClure, South Laurel High School
Madison: Jordan Cottrell, Madison Central High School
Owsley: Emalee Patton, Owsley County High School