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December 16, 2010

ULM's Fall GEAR UP event plants seeds of hope for Higher Ed

As someone who has dedicated his life to the field of education, Adrian Burnett is sure of one thing – to get students interested in pursuing a college degree, you've got to get them thinking about it long before they earn their high school diploma.

That's precisely why Burnett, a freshman transition coach at Carroll High School, was more than willing to accompany about 65 ninth and tenth-grade students to the University of Louisiana at Monroe campus on a recent Thursday morning.

Burnett joined educators and students from Wossman High School for the visit, part of a discretionary grant program designed to increase the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in post-secondary education known as GEAR UP, or Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs.

"What we're trying to do is focus on this grade and get them at younger age talking about college," Burnett said. "We want to get the concept of college planted in their minds just a little bit earlier, because a lot of times, they don't take their high school courses seriously until they get to be juniors and seniors. By then, it might be too late."

More than 220 freshman and sophomore high school students visited ULM on Thursday, Dec. 2, marking the first time that GEAR UP officials scheduled a comprehensive review of campus life for this grade level.
Kim Griffin of the ULM Recruitment and Admissions Office coordinated the event to show the students more about the admissions process, financial aid, residential life and the courses and extracurricular activities available at ULM.

Staff member Chasline Fontenot, also of the ULM Recruitment and Admissions Office, joined Hawk Seeker Johntavious Hampton to lead the GEAR UP students on a bus tour of the campus, which was followed by a lunch in the Student Union Building provided by Subway.

"It was an exceptional opportunity to reach out to these students and firmly secure within them the idea that not only is college challenging, but worth it, but it can also be a lot of fun," said Dr. Dorothy Schween. "Perhaps even more importantly, we inspired them to believe that they can achieve the goal of getting a higher education."

The event was made possible through an in-kind grant relationship between ULM and the Monroe City School District, with Jacqueline Matthews serving as the school district's grant coordinator. The next GEAR UP event at ULM will be the annual Monroe City School District's GEAR UP Mock Graduation held during the spring semester.

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