Over 1,800 educators from 43 states attended the 2015 National GEAR UP Conference held July 19-22 in San Francisco. Participants chose from over 140 breakout sessions and heard from inspiring speakers including the architect of GEAR UP, U.S. Representative Chaka Fattah (PA); Salman Khan, founder of Khan Academy; and President/CEO of the Nellie Mae Educational Foundation, Nicholas C. Donahue.

The GEAR UP Youth Congress engaged 120 students in self-awareness, leadership and team-building activities concurrently with the conference. Louden Oleachea, a senior at La Pine High School, and Graciela Lyons, a senior at Elkton Charter School, represented Oregon (pictured above with their mothers, Cindy Jarrett and Cynthia Pakros). When asked to name her favorite part, Graciela just smiled and said, "All of it!"

Stephanie receiving awardStephanie Carnahan, Oregon GEAR UP's longstanding project director, was also recognized as one of two GEAR UP Professionals of the Year for her commitment to college access and her dedication to the GEAR UP program. Teena Olszewski, director of Arizona GEAR UP, sums it up:

I can’t imagine a more deserving individual of the NCCEP GEAR UP Professional of the Year award than Stephanie Carnahan. Inside and outside the GEAR UP community, locally and nationally for more than a decade, Stephanie has served as a colleague, mentor, and friend to many --exemplifying GEAR UP leadership and advocacy at its best. Thousands of young people from across rural Oregon have profited as the result of her passionate, expert stewardship of Oregon GEAR UP over the years.

Hear what others have to say about Stephanie's impact: