There are times in life when the path diverges from what was expected or planned. It is in those moments when uncertainty nips at you and change rolls over you in waves washing away the familiar and comfortable that your strength and resolve are tested. Change is guaranteed in this life and that thought is both comforting and unnerving- a friend when hardship is upon you and a rival when contentment is reached.

When I was a child, my family experienced divorce and the disappearance of my father, then poverty as my single mother of four without a college education tried to provide for us. Change was welcomed during brief bouts of homelessness and hunger. It is because of this upbringing that I can understand some of the challenges that many of our GEAR UP students face. GEAR UP has afforded me an outlet for my drive and passion to help underrepresented students. I believe in our mission to support our students to succeed socially, emotionally, and academically. Someone once told me to seek an education because, he said, it is the only thing that cannot be taken away. This statement stuck with me. As a child of parents who had no college experience, I sought degrees with a hunger. When I became GEAR UP Director, I threw myself into the work. I wanted to help our students enroll and succeed in post-secondary education to provide opportunities that a college education could afford.

An unexpected benefit was the chance to work with the most amazing people and students. I have found a team of GEAR UP colleagues, both in Nevada and nationwide, who have that same desire and determination to help underrepresented students, who have open, generous and caring hearts, and want to do the best for our students and their families.

I feel so very thankful for the twists and turns in life that have led me here. It is because of all of this, my heart is torn as I launch onto another path away from GEAR UP. GEAR UP as a whole- the team, the mission, the students and families- will stay with me. The kindness, courage, and understanding that I have witnessed in the past four and half years will be exemplars that I take with me for the rest of my life.

I am grateful to have been a part of this team. I wish you strength and grit to March to a Million and beyond. I wish you happiness and success in all of your endeavors. Finally, I will hope that our paths cross again and that I may hear your story and the challenges that you have overcome to find happiness.

All the best,

Tammy Bolen

Nevada GEAR UP Director