For the fourth consecutive year, a federal grant will provide Western Nevada College with the opportunity to change the lives of Lyon County youth. The Gear Up Ambassador Grant, funded through the U.S. Department of Education, enhances the chances that high school students will continue on to college.
â€œWe reach out to students by traveling to the schools in our service area, at least once a week,â€ said Ruby Herman, WNCâ€™s Gear Up ambassador. â€œWeekly, we provide presentations and classroom activities that inform and teach the students about the different areas, degrees and careers that Western Nevada College has to offer.â€
Gear Up encourages and assists first-generation, low-income students to change their family histories and plan for a higher education.
â€œI have been working with the same students since they were in the sixth and seventh grades,â€ Herman said. â€œI have seen them grow from children to adolescents, and their curiosity and enthusiasm grow for their chance to become college students. These students have embraced the resources provided by the Gear Up program to become the next generation of college students.â€
For the 2015-16 school year, the grant allows Herman to focus on 350 freshmen and sophomores at Silver Stage and Yerington high schools in Lyon County, providing the students with important information regarding college admissions processes, financial aid and academic careers.
The lesson plan for this year will expose students to more careers, including Construction Management, Welding, Machine Tool Technology, Automotive Mechanics, Nursing, Computer Technology and Business Administration.
If the messages are received and acted upon, many of these students will likely enroll in classes at WNCâ€™s Fallon campus.
â€œThe purpose of the program is to develop a college-going culture,â€ said WNC Fallon Campus Manager Lori Tiede. â€œThis benefits students by giving them the knowledge, skills and encouragement to apply for college. Students receive opportunities to learn about Western Nevada College programs such as Jump Start College sooner, and can begin to prepare for college earlier.â€
Herman is implementing a collaborative mentoring program at Silver Stage High School in Silver Springs. There, a current WNC student speaks to the high school students about transitioning to college and what to expect at WNC.
At Yerington High School, Herman is establishing a Gear Up Club that will inform students about all career degree lessons, as well as scholarship and financial literacy information.
â€œOur students learn important skills and concepts that will allow them to determine what path they wish to take in order to become successful college students in the field of their choosing,â€ Herman said.
Through the grant, WNC is represented at all college and career fairs at the two high schools. WNC also hosts campus visits and tours to help prospective students become more familiar with what college has to offer.
â€œThese events include a full tour of the campus and presentations at our Career and Technical Education departments, including Automotive Mechanics, Machine Tool Technology and Welding,â€ Herman said. â€œWe will provide financial literacy and admission nights for the parents of our students twice a year, to help them better prepare for their student going to college.â€
Herman said that students receive lessons and workshops that help them apply for scholarships.
â€œEven at their young age, many of our students have submitted scholarship essays,â€ she said. â€œThe scholarships that they have applied for will be saved until they register for their first year of college.
â€œI have found that this great grant program has influenced the minds of our young students to believe that they can achieve a college degree and a brighter future.â€