TRIO/GEAR UP Day Celebration - February 29, 2020

News | March 2020 | by Thomas Wilde, Program Assistant


Elected officials, community partners, UNLV and Clark County School District (CCSD) administrators, as well as students and families, came together on February 29, 2020 to celebrate the achievements of TRIO, GEAR UP, NSF LSAMP and AANAPISI participants, both past and present. Shortly after 4 p.m., the Strip View Pavilion at the Thomas and Mack Event Center welcomed approximately 300 distinguished guests, staff and honorees.

The event began with welcoming remarks from UNLV Vice President for Student Affairs, Dr. Juanita Fain. Congresswoman Susie Lee sent a video acknowledging all of the programs and outstanding achievements of this year’s honorees. Among those in attendance were Vinny Spotleson (district director on behalf of Congresswoman Dina Titus), Melissa Ramos (staff assistant on behalf of Congressman Horsford), Patrick Carter (NSHE Regent), Donald McMichael Sr. (NSHE Regent), Lora Parkins (NSHE Regent), Lina Young (CCSD Trustee), Richard Cherchio (Councilman from City of North Las Vegas), as well as several principals from CCSD middle and high schools. Melissa Ramos on behalf of Congressman Horsford and Vinny Spotleson on behalf of Congresswoman Dina Titus also gave their motivational remarks at the event.

The mistress of ceremonies Maria Silva, anchor/reporter of KVVU FOX5 News This Morning, began her welcome by stating that she looks forward to attending the TRIO/GEAR UP Day event each year and praised The Center for Academic Enrichment and Outreach (The Center) for hosting the event. She also offered her congratulations to those who participated in and completed TRIO, GEAR UP, LSAMP and AANAPISI programs. These programs help low-income individuals, first-generation college students, and individuals with disabilities to overcome physical, social, cultural and academic barriers. The Center houses the largest suite of federally funded (twenty TRIO, one GEAR UP, two Title III AANAPISI, one NSF LSAMP) programs in the nation. Under the leadership of Dr. William W. Sullivan, The Center provides academic support services to more than 20,000 participants in Southern Nevada.

Dr. Keith Rogers, Deputy Executive Director for The Center, presented the community partner award to the FBI Las Vegas Division. UNLV Upward Bound Math and Science Center had an impactful collaboration with the FBI Las Vegas Division in the summer of 2019. This effort resulted in a full day of STEAM activities for the UNLV Upward Bound students, which included presentations from special agents, the cybercrime unit and newly graduated FBI agents (one of whom is a former Upward Bound participant from Cleveland). Students experienced hands-on demonstrations with vehicles from SWAT, the bomb squad, and the evidence response team. This effort was so effective and engaging that the information shared with the FBI supervisor in Washington DC prompted an interest to model a nationwide Upward Bound collaboration.

One Title III AANAPISI alumnus, one LSAMP participant, five TRIO alumni, and one GEAR UP alumna were honored for their accomplishments during the event. The audience listened as the honorees shared their personal stories on how the programs positively changed their lives and futures. The following individuals were recognized at the event: Dr. Maxym Myroshnychenko (TRIO McNair Honoree), Ms. Katelyn Usam (AANAPISI Honoree), Mr. Marco Valverde Paredes (LSAMP Honoree), Ms. Flor Cardona (TRIO SSS Honoree), Mr. Alan Cruz (TRIO ETS Honoree), Ms. Wendy Seneme (TRIO EOC Honoree), Mr. Sami Mesgun (TRIO UB Honoree), and Ms. Sol Gonzalez Pacheco (GEAR UP Achiever). The next annual TRIO/GEAR UP Day Celebration is scheduled for Saturday, February 20, 2021.