Honors College lecture series forges on with LA GEAR UP

The Earl Lester Cole Honors College continued its lecture seminars with two guest speakers from Grambling State University’s Department of Curriculum and Instruction on Monday.

Associate Professor Dr. Elaine Foster, and Dr. Loretta Jaggers enlightened the audience about GSU’s LA GEAR UP program. LA GEAR UP, which stands for Louisiana Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs is a federally funded program supported by the U.S. Department of Education.

 The program, which started in 2005, gives grants to institutions of higher education to develop partnerships with “high-poverty” middle or high schools.

GSU’s LA GEAR UP program targets high school students in an effort to prepare them for college level courses. The program run as a one-week summer camp where  high school students get the chance to live as undergraduates. Once students successfully complete the camp they  are given the opportunity to  attend GSU for their undergraduate studies.  At the start of the camp, each student takes an assessment test and based on the results, the week’s activities are designed to strengthen any weaknesses identified. 

Many of the activities focus on the natural sciences the human body, and modern technology. NASA curriculum has also been incorporated into the program. The campers have even had the opportunity on several occasions to participate in video conferences with NASA personnel. 

Dr. Foster noted that many of the learning activities are done in a crime scene setting so that the campers become more engaged as they are solving different “crimes”. They also engage in leadership development activities, and everyday there is some sort of social activity which allows them to interact outside of the classroom. Dr. Jaggers noted that the students are asked to evaluate all of the activities. She even pointed out that many are sad to leave when the camp is over. “Some cry when they get here, but they also cry when they leave,” said Jaggers.

The ladies noted that GSU is one of several universities, which include McNeese State University, University of Louisiana at Monroe and Louisiana Tech, to participate in LA GEAR UP. They also pointed out that GSU’s LA GEAR UP has received one of the highest evaluations at the Southern Association of Colleges and School’s conference. In addition, between 2008 and 2011, GSU received the most funding from the LA GEAR UP program because of its success.

One GSU student, Chenoa Sifflet, a junior engineering major, while she had heard of the program did not know the extent of the activities that the program offers. Sifflet is now interested in becoming a part of the LA GEAR UP team. “I love helping others, and now that I know what the program does I want to become an LA GEAR UP counselor,” she said.

Dave Fields, a sophomore nursing major found the presentation to be informative and he praised the organizers of GSU’s LA GEAR UP for their work. Christina Ubaka, a junior in the Chemistry Department said, “I wish I could have attended as a high school student,” she said.

At the end of the presentation, the Honors College advisor, Dr. Steve Favors, thanked Doctors Foster and Jaggers for assisting the Honors College in its effort to educate students, as well as give Honors College students the opportunity to do program planning on their own. “These seminars give our students the opportunity to gain valuable experience in program planning,” Dr. Favors said. Honors seminar students are required to plan and execute informative programs as part of their class curriculum.

Previous guest speakers of the honors seminars include Dr. King Godwin, Department Head of the Visual and Performing Arts Department; and Dr. Patricia Powell Johnson, Department Head of the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. Godwin gave a presentation about GSU’s performing arts program, while Johnson spoke of the alternative teachers certification project.

The Earl Lester Cole Honors College lecture seminars are held every Monday at 6 p.m. in room 212 of the Charles P. Adams Hall, and is open to everyone. The featured speaker for Monday will be Dr. Joyce Montgomery of the Criminal Justice Department.