On any given day, a group of 100 wide-eyed middle school students can be seen carefully exploring Lied Library on the UNLV campus. They are a part of UNLV Libraries’ partnership with Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP). Although the organization offers services from campus tours to SAT and ACT prep, the partnership with UNLV Libraries is very specific: give students an in-depth look at a college library.
This year, students from Bailey, Brinley, Findlay, Fremont, Gibson, Knudson, O’Callaghan, Orr, Sedway, Von Tobel and West Preparatory Academy middle schools visited Lied Library as part of GEAR UP events at UNLV. Next year, GEAR UP will welcome high school students, as the organization continues to follow these young men and women throughout their academic careers.
UNLV Libraries and GEAR UP share an important mission: community education. While UNLV Libraries strives to educate students and serve the community at large, GEAR UP’s mission is to significantly increase the number of low-income and at-risk students who are prepared to enter and succeed in college.
Library tours are led by UNLV Libraries’ Mason Undergraduate Peer Research Coaches, student workers who know the ins and outs of the library system’s main library and branch libraries. During the tour, students are encouraged to ask questions as they learn how to best use the libraries and what services are available.
“The students ask a lot of really good questions,” said Robin Wood, GEAR UP tutoring coordinator at UNLV. “The Mason peer coaches sit down and discuss with them what they know about the library and college. I like that it’s conducted by student workers, so when our kids are asking questions, they’re getting honest answers from real UNLV students.”
GEAR UP operates out of The Center for Academic Enrichment Outreach and offers its services free of charge to eligible participants. Along with the introduction to the library, the organization also offers academic and financial counseling, tutoring, mentoring program, assistance in completing college applications, college preparation, workshops and information on postsecondary opportunities. Parents can also attend workshops on how to find scholarship and financial aid opportunities, promote student achievement and support the transition between high school and college.
For additional information on GEAR UP’s partnership with the UNLV Libraries, call 702-895-2114 or visit caeo.unlv.edu.