My name is Szilvia Rideg, and I am very happy to serve the Nevada GEAR UP program as the Research Grant Administrator at the Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE). My role mainly consists of maintaining the financial, federal, and state compliance aspects of the higher education portion of the program, awarded by the Nevada Department of Education (NDE), for NSHE and all seven of our Nevada institutions of higher education: UNR, UNLV, CSN, NSC, WNC, GBC, and TMCC. I administer these sub-awards and their annual solicitations, process invoices, prepare budget modifications and reports, and coordinate programmatic needs with my counterpart, Dr. Daniel Villanueva, GEAR UP Ambassador Coordinator. Most of the time, I work behind the scenes on the grant itself, and enjoy the attention to detail my job demands; however, I also greatly enjoy getting to go to GEAR UP events to see the students we are serving, and hearing about the impact GEAR UP has had on some of their most major life decisions – such as whether or not to go to college, and how to get there.

Having teenagers of my own, I understand the struggle of helping youth find and navigate their life’s path during a critical window of time. GEAR UP is an effective program that plants the seeds of a bright future in the minds of 7th graders in Nevada’s most underserved middle schools, and tends to their growing garden of young aspirations all the way through high school graduation and the first year of college. GEAR UP changes lives by demystifying the process of getting into college, and perhaps most importantly, by inspiring youth who wouldn’t have thought it possible to want to go there.

Just in time to get me energized about back-to-school preparations for my own high-schooler, I had the pleasure of attending my first conference of the National Council for Community and Education Partnerships (NCCEP) in mid-July, held in beautiful San Francisco, California. This was without a doubt the best conference I have attended throughout my entire nonprofit career. I joined over 2,000 educators and administrators in four days of over 100 available sessions, ranging from motivational plenaries given by incredibly accomplished educational leaders; to learning the nitty-gritty of heavy topics such as Closing the Equity Gap and improving Student-School-and-Career Engagement. This high-energy conference also featured renowned violinist Vijay Gupta; the infectiously motivational NCCEP President and CEO Ranjit Sidhu; and touching presentations by the 2019 Youth Leadership Summit. I left feeling even more impressed by the great work of GEAR UP programs across the country, and inspired to keep this incredible program running for generations to come here in Nevada.