NSU hosts inaugural Louisiana GEAR-Up leadership summit

NATCHITOCHES – Northwestern State University and Louisiana GEAR-Up initiative hosted a leadership summit for more than 200 high school students in the northwest Louisiana region.

The inaugural event involved experiential learning activities in which the high schoolers engaged with students in NSU’s Presidential Leadership Program, according to Steve Gruesbeck, NSU/Louisiana GEAR-Up executive director.

“As the first big event we have hosted, Tuesday’s summit included lots of team building activities, movement and even an interactive community service activity.  The service project is a literacy initiative begun by NSU First Lady Jennifer Maggio,” Gruesbeck said.  “All of this action was anchored by a couple of general assemblies with speakers, including a welcome from NSU President Dr. Chris Maggio a session with leadership development guru Alberta Green.”

Participating students received leadership portfolios with materials and supplies to help apply lessons at home and at school.

A federally funded national initiative, Louisiana GEAR Up (Louisiana Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) is supported by the U.S. Department of Education, which gives grants to states or institutions of higher learning to create partnerships with high-poverty middle or high schools. In partnership with 16 school districts and the Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance (LOSFA), Louisiana GEAR Up aims to increase the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in post-secondary education.

The leadership summit is the first of a series of big events planned for GEAR-Up participants.  NSU will host an engineering technology symposium on Nov. 20, ACT Boot Camp in February 2020, art expo in March 2020 and a nursing and allied health fair in April 2020.  College faculty and students will meet with pre-college students at NSU to engage them in hands-on learning about academic and career opportunities in S.T.E.A.M (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics), teacher education and nursing/allied health.  Meanwhile, a marketing campaign about financial aid, tutoring, and other student support services will help schools, students and families to better understand the resources available, Gruesbeck said.

“The Connect2Success NSU/GEAR-Up project is multidisciplinary in scope,” Gruesbeck said. “Programming involves all four colleges of the university with the unified goal of increasing college access and success.  The year-round, experiential learning activities and events are the next evolutionary step following a series of highly successful summer programs involving NSU and Louisiana GEAR-Up.”

Information on LA GEAR-UP is available at https://www.osfa.la.gov/LA_GearUp/index.html.