25 student leaders honored during Kentucky GEAR UP Week

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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

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