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6/22/2010 - Jackson, Miss.

Learning to be a leader in your school and community is an important component of college readiness, according to the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) Mississippi initiative.

Youth Advisory Council (YAC) sponsors from the program will get some extra training this week on implementing youth leadership programs into activities in all 40 GEAR UP Mississippi schools across the state.

The mandatory training will be provided in collaboration with the National Council for Community and Educational Partnerships June 23-24 at the Hilton Jackson Hotel in Jackson. About 60 sponsors are expected to attend, representing all GEAR UP Mississippi schools.

"This training is all about preparing our sponsors to teach students about the importance of being a leader," said Briana Thompson, College Coach and State Level YAC Coordinator for GEAR UP Mississippi. "When we all get together for professional development, we're able to brainstorm new ideas and talk through challenges in order to make the next year's activities more productive and enjoyable for our students."

GEAR UP Mississippi's YAC component is meant to emphasize college preparation through college visits, college fairs, service learning projects and other activities. YAC focuses on a group of 2,000 students who serve as ambassadors to their student bodies. These students also assist GEAR UP Mississippi in promoting the program's message of college awareness and readiness.

YAC students must have a 2.5 GPA, exemplify good character and regularly attend monthly meetings to be considered for membership within the council.

"The ultimate goal for this unique initiative is to build students' leadership abilities while teaching them how to be advocates for their schools and communities, empowering them to become the voice for their peers," said Nira Coleman-Johnson, State Director for GEAR UP Mississippi.


GEAR UP Mississippi operates as part of the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning, Office of Academic and Student Affairs, in collaboration with the Mississippi Department of Education, State Board for Community and Junior Colleges and community and national partners.

GEAR UP tracks cohorts at participating schools from seventh grade through the first year of post-secondary education. GEAR UP Mississippi actively encourages students to set high academic expectations, stay in school, study hard, and take courses that will prepare them to enter and succeed in college. The program provides educational support services to our partner schools throughout Mississippi. Click here for more information about GEAR UP Mississippi.

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