Gear Up students graduate from summer program

For years, the Gear Up Summer Honors Program has worked to show students that college may be a good option for their future.
Friday, the three-week program at Black Hills State University came to an end for the summer.

Peg Diekhoff, Gear Up BHSU Project Manager, says, "The state's commitment to keeping the Gear Up program speaks highly to the fact that there is a need for programs such as this."

For three weeks, students in the Gear Up Summer Honors Program have been bunking at Black Hills State University -- living the college lifestyle.
Donte Trujillo, a student, says, "Staying at a campus for two or three weeks just gives you the beginning experience to being college."
Tackling rigorous coursework -- from algebra formulas -- to writing -- to hands on science learning.
Diekhoff says, "They fought through a lot of battles. They persevered through a lot of battles."
It was the first time away from home for this long for many students -- and a few weeks away from home can be difficult. Not just for the kids, but for the parents as well.
Diekhoff says, "Our intent with today is to not only recognize the students but recognize the families because families made a commitment too. Today is a celebration of what it means to be an academic scholar in high school."
And celebrations were in order, recognizing the 52 hard-working students who are walking away with more knowledge, friends, and memories than they came to campus with.

Tom Jackson, BHSU President, says, "To see all of the students that are here today completing the Gear Up program -- how happy they are, sitting with them, and celebrating in this moment -- we couldn't have asked for a better day."
Diekhoff says, "Gear Up is hugely beneficial in shaping kids' futures in being an academic scholar. There are a lot of kids who have that potential but don't have the commitment that it takes to be a scholar and the choices you have to make a long the way."
For students in the program -- group leaders and university officials are hoping they take away the idea that education matters.
Jackson says, "Through the last three weeks, we like to think we've inspired people to one day go to a university somewhere in South Dakota or anywhere in the United States, finish their degree, and do great things with that degree, whether it's at home or at anywhere."