Nevada State College and the Office of Community Engagement and Diversity Initiatives (CEDI) welcome Nick Mathews as NSC's new Gear Up Ambassador.
A recent UNLV graduate with a bachelor's degree in Psychology, Mathews is proof that the Gear Up program works. Gear Up helped me a great deal while I was going to high school in the Las Vegas valley, Mathews said. And now I am doing my part to continue to help hundreds of students every week.
Mathews was an active Gear Up participant as a CCSD student, and was valedictorian of his class at Mojave High School. Dr. Edith Fernandez, Vice President of the Office of Community Engagement and Diversity Initiatives, believes Mathews was the perfect choice to serve in this role. As a GEAR UP alum himself, Nicholas uses his personal experience to make meaningful connections with students, she said.
As the Nevada State College Gear Up Ambassador, I get the opportunity to help create a college-going culture for high school and middle school students in Nevada, Mathews said. He will work with parents, teachers, and administrators to implement programs that will help prepare students to be admitted to college and succeed once they are enrolled. I primarily service at risk youth from low income families. In order for any school to be considered a Gear Up school, more than 50 percent of the student population must receive free or reduced lunch, he explained.
Many of these students feel like they do not have the resources or the motivation necessary to complete a college degree program, Mathews said. That is where I come in.
Mathews will have an opportunity to develop workshops and seminars on topics ranging from the benefits of after-school tutoring programs to college entrance requirements and financial aid literacy. He will also assist with conferences covering topics such as STEM opportunities, leadership skills, transitioning from middle school to high school, and the transition from high school to college. In addition, as an ambassador for NSC, he will organize Nevada State College campus tours for Gear Up students from all over the state in order to showcase all that the college has to offer. I send information about Nevada State College as well as make personal appearances at schools in Nevada in order to keep students informed about the benefits of attending NSC, he said.
Although new to NSC, Mathews has hit the ground running. He says he is excited about the rewarding nature of his job. My favorite part about this position is the opportunity to change a student's mindset to believe that they actually can attend college and they can pursue their dreams, he expressed. I was raised in a household where going to college was expected. Unfortunately, so many of the youth in Nevada are not being raised in that type of atmosphere. I love being able to reach out directly to the students and inspire them to do great things.
Mathews, Dr. Fernandez and CEDI staff member, Amey Esparza, attended the ACT Conference, Multiple Pathways to Achieve College and Career Success in Reno earlier this month. At the conference, the CEDI staff learned about dynamic learning environments and methods to help struggling youth populations overcome real barriers to self-actualization.
Dr. Fernandez says she is very proud of her team, and looks forward to the contributions of her newest staff member. It seems that Nicholas has a divine passion to inspire students to do better for themselves in all aspects of life, she said.
They always say if you change one life, you have done enough, but I do not believe that is enough, Mathews explained. He says he has bigger plans, to inspire all those around him to strive for greatness in all that they do. With the resources I have here at Nevada State College, along with the platform I have to reach out to these students and their families, I truly believe we can change millions of lives.