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CWU - GEAR UP
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Oroville Graduate Looking Forward to WSU

 


Good Luck and Congratulations, Charlie!
I know you will do great things!

-Dawn Miller, GEAR UP Site Director

Nestled in the Okanogan River Basin of North Central Washington, Oroville is a rural community of just under 2,000 people. Dawn Miller has lived there for 23 years.

“There isn’t a place in the world I would rather live than in Oroville. I get to hike, hunt, fish, garden, and swim– all out my front door. Not many people can say that about where they live!”

For 15 years, Dawn has worked at the local school as a GEAR UP Site Director. The middle and high schools share a building with a total of 271 students. The student body demographic is comprised of mostly White students (60%) and Hispanic/Latino students (35%). The school qualifies as a GEAR UP partner because of its high rate of low-income families, with over two-thirds of students receiving free and reduced lunch.

For the 2020 school year, there were 45 juniors and 32 seniors, 30 of which graduated with their diplomas. Charles Egerton is one of the graduates.

“GEAR UP helped me with college applications and scholarships,” says Charles, who will start at Washington State University this fall. “They paid for my Running Start fees, so I received my high school diploma and community college degree at the same time.”

In addition to being a participant in the program since 7th grade, Charles was hired as a GEAR UP tutor and was able to save money for college while helping his peers to succeed academically.

He participated in many of GEAR UP’s workshops, camps, and other events.

“My favorite GEAR UP event was a field trip to Blake Island and Tillicum Village. We explored the area and learned about the food, dance, and art of Northwest Indian Tribes. We ate a traditional meal and saw a traditional dance.”

Even though being a college freshman will surely look different this year because of COVID-19, Charles is excited about what is to come. “What I am looking forward to most at WSU is meeting new people and taking classes on campus so I can find the career I am most interested in pursuing.”

Dawn Miller is certainly proud of her student’s accomplishments, including his involvement in the local community. “Charlie has taken advantage of many GEAR UP opportunities. It has been a pleasure to see him grow up into an amazing young man."

Dawn will continue to stay in contact with Charles and all of her students who are headed off to college or into the workforce, offering them support during this significant life transition. Simultaneously, she will work diligently with GEAR UP’s rising seniors to make sure that they, too, have the opportunity to succeed.

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Be the Change: Juan Poré
 


I had very little help and support navigating the educational system, especially higher-ed. Now, I work passionately to provide my students with the support that I only dreamed I could have. 

-Juan Poré, GEAR UP Site Director


In his six years as a GEAR UP site director, Juan Poré has inspired thousands of students on their educational journeys. Along with his co-director, Marvin Ortiz, Juan organizes events and tutoring at Quincy High School through GEAR UP, a 100% federally funded program that helps low-income middle and high school students prepare for post-secondary education. GEAR UP’s mission is to help under-represented students achieve their academic, career, and life goals.

"I stumbled and made some big mistakes along my educational path,” says Juan, who was the first person in his family to go to college. “I wish I had a program like GEAR UP. Sometimes it's not even about the resources as much as it is having the support of someone who has been through the process of going to school and making it to completion... That type of guidance and support is so monumental."

CWU GEAR UP has 17 site directors in high schools throughout North Central Washington. Like Juan, these site directors organize college tours and summer camps, provide academic support, and guide families through the financial aid process. Since one of the program’s goals is to increase rigor in STEM academics, students also have the opportunity to participate in the Science Connections Team, including robotics.

One thing that makes CWU GEAR UP special is its embrace of uniqueness and diversity. The site directors come from myriad ethnic and educational backgrounds. Each brings to their work a passion for education and youth empowerment. Site directors do a lot of listening and are part of the social support network at the high schools.

Juan also co-manages GEAR UP's Student Ambassador Program. The ambassadors, who attend colleges throughout Washington, help students transition to post-secondary life. 

GEAR UP's commitment to the Class of 2020 will extend through the students' first year of college. The extra support is crucial. Most students in the GEAR UP cohort are, like Juan, first-generation college students. According to the National Student Clearinghouse, dropout rates are higher for "first-gen" students: Thirty-three percent drop out by their third year of college, compared with 25% of students whose parents have college degrees.

Juan, who has two bachelor’s degrees and a master’s degree, plans on continuing his own academic career by pursuing a PhD or Doctorate of Education at a prestigious institution. 

Juan’s important work has not gone unnoticed. He was recently recognized by the Eastern Washington Affiliate of the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT). But he doesn’t do this job for the accolades. His purpose is deeper than that.

The one thing Juan would like to be known for is his ability to build relationships with the students he serves.

“It is my honor to be surrounded by our youth,” he says. “They consistently give me life. I understand the struggle that many students face. I can relate to the fear of the unknown when it comes to navigating these spaces. I hope to serve as a beacon for my students.”
 
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