Last updated: July 17. 2013 5:53PM - 150 Views

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Senator Jay Rockefeller recently congratulated Madison native, Kendyl Ryan, for her work at Scott High School mentoring other students and preparing for college.

Ryan is the national winner of the GEAR UP program’s Youth of the Year Award, and has been recognized for her leadership and commitment to service.

“Kendyl is an exceptional role model,” said Rockefeller. “After overcoming heavy obstacles, she has dedicated herself fully to her peers and taken serious initiative in helping others and also pursuing her own education. I’m honored to have met her and so proud to have her represent West Virginia.”

Each year, the GEAR UP Youth of the Year Award recognizes a student participating in a GEAR UP program who has gone above and beyond to be a role model for others, while taking steps to enter and succeed in college. Ryan has received support from the program since she joined in 2008 and it has provided her with the academic tools to help succeed.

At her high school, Ryan spearheads HEROs (Higher Education Readiness Officers), a peer-to-peer outreach group aimed at fueling a college-going culture. Motivated by her own father’s tragic passing, Ryan is also developing a grief counseling program to help students facing the loss of a parent. She juggles these commitments, as well as her other extracurricular involvements, with her schoolwork. She has made concrete plans to continue her own education beyond high school by pursuing a Masters degree in counseling. She hopes to continue to help and inspire students who face challenges.

Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) is a federal grant program designed to increase the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education. GEAR UP funds are also used to provide college scholarships to low-income students.

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