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10/14/2010 - 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) students and sponsors from the program will participate in a two-day workshop that will focus on mentorship and advocacy awareness. The students will utilize what they learn to assist the sponsors in the implementation of project activities in all 40 GEAR UP Mississippi schools across the state.

The summit will be provided in collaboration with the National Council for Community and Educational Partnerships Wednesday and Thursday at the Twin Lakes Conference Center in Florence, Miss. Over 300 students, YAC sponsors, College Coaches and youth mentors will attend the conference. The conference will begin at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, October 20, 2010, and conclude with lunch on Thursday, October 21, 2010.

"This conference will allow these student ambassadors to learn new and innovative methods to be student leaders for their school," said Briana Thompson, College Coach and State Level YAC Coordinator for GEAR UP Mississippi. "The students will have an opportunity to interact with their fellow YAC members from the 20 GEAR UP Mississippi school districts across the state and collaborate on how to make the YAC initiative better at their schools."

The purpose of GEAR UP Mississippi's YAC component is 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. Students selected to attend the conference are among those who exemplify qualities of leadership and provide community service to their schools.

"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 (MS) 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 MS 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 partner schools throughout Mississippi. For more information visit gearupms.org.

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