WV Press Release Sharing
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – On Oct. 3, the West Virginia GEAR UP program hosted its annual Student Leadership Academy (SLA) at the Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences’ Maier Foundation Performance Hall. This year’s event brought together nearly 1,000 enthusiastic ninth-grade WV GEAR UP students from across the state.
The West Virginia GEAR UP Student Leadership Academy aims to empower students with valuable leadership skills while motivating them to pursue their dreams through higher education. As part of the event, students were treated to an inspiring keynote address by Robert Anthony, a remarkable individual who has excelled as a USA Amputee Soccer player, USA Paratriathlete, USA Sitting Volleyball A2 player, Para Spartan competitor, and American Ninja Warrior competitor. Anthony’s story of determination and perseverance resonated with the young audience, leaving them inspired and motivated to chase their dreams despite adversities they may face.
In addition to the captivating keynote address, the event featured the lively presence of mascots representing West Virginia GEAR UP’s partner colleges. These mascots, along with the charismatic Charleston Dirty Birds mascot, added an extra layer of excitement, energy, and fun to the proceedings. Students had the opportunity to interact with the mascots, take pictures, and soak in the collegiate spirit.
Elizabeth Manuel, Senior Director of Student Services at the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, emphasized the significance of the GEAR UP program in the state. She stated, “The West Virginia GEAR UP program plays a pivotal role in shaping the future of our young students. By imparting leadership skills and the tools necessary for them to pursue their college and career goals, we are preparing West Virginia students for success in their postsecondary education journeys.”
The West Virginia GEAR UP program has consistently demonstrated its commitment to providing students with the tools they need to thrive academically and personally. The Student Leadership Academy is just one example of how West Virginia GEAR UP continues to inspire and empower youth throughout the Mountain State.
“GEAR UP” stands for “Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs,” and the program’s goal is to help more students pursue their dreams of earning a college diploma or skillset certificate. West Virginia GEAR UP is a federally funded program managed by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission. It serves thousands of students in eleven different counties. The GEAR UP program operates on seven-year cycles. The Commission is administering its third consecutive GEAR UP grant, which began in 2021 and will conclude in 2028. For more information about West Virginia GEAR UP, visit wvgearup.org.