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Name: Vicky Roller - my students call me "Roll-tide"
School: Taft 7-12- Lincoln County School District
Position: Counselor, GEAR UP and TAG Coordinator [plus volleyball coach and senior class advisor PLUS on the school counselor advisory council at Capella University PLUS work with Rotary, Kiwanis and the Lincoln City Chamber of Commerce. I don't sleep much. :) ]
College Alma Mater: I went to quite a few colleges: Victor Valley Community College, University of California Santa Barbara, Cal State and Capella University
Fun facts: My family went on a cross country road trip last summer and we visited 42 states and 9 colleges including Harvard, Yale and Westpoint. And I am a huge Oregon State Beaver and Portland Trailblazer fan!
Describe an aspect of your educational journey.
When I was in high school I had a German teacher, Mr. Williams, that always encouraged and challenged me, I had a volleyball coach, Coach White, that drilled excellence in me, and my parents also supported anything I wanted to do. I knew the expectation was that I go to college. I knew I had support in what I wanted to do but I didn't have anyone at my high school that helped me through the process of visiting colleges, applying and then transitioning to college. I didn't get in to my dream college; I was extremely disappointed, I cried a little, yelled a little, and then my grit and resilience kicked in and I changed my plan. I attended community college, played volleyball and then later transferred to a university to earn a BA in Sociology. It took me 6 years to finish my undergraduate degree - I wish I would have had the support of GEAR UP as I learned a few lessons the hard way and I have the student loans to prove it. After I finished my undergraduate degree I never planned to return to college. 11 years later I have earned a Masters degree and I am now in the dissertation phase of earning a PhD. My education has opened up doors and opportunities that would otherwise be closed. I am now a school counselor at Taft and often spend my time working with seniors on college applications, FAFSA, OSAC, all those checklist items that our students need to do to get to college. It is incredibly rewarding watching my students make a plan for their life and such an honor that I get to help be a purveyor of hope and encouragement.
One of the biggest reason I have continued my education is to show my two boys, Lex and Leo, that anything is possible if you set goals and work really hard. I am a single mom of two boys amd I know that they are watching how hard I have had to work and the sacrifices we have had to make. I want them to be proud of me.
Because of GEAR UP, dreams become reality and mediocrity is not an option at Taft.
The impact of GEAR UP:
I am so incredibly thankful for the opportunities that GEAR UP has provided to the students at Taft! GEAR UP has provided the resources and structure to enhance the work I do as a counselor. We have taken several long bus trips to visit campuses, my students have attended summer camps sponsored by GEAR UP and I had the privilege to bring two of my student to Washington D.C. to attend the youth congress at the national GEAR UP conference. GEAR UP has provided endless opportunity for my students to think and journey outside our small rural town. We are lucky to live in a town where our local government, community partners, and parents support the tenets of GEAR UP. Our mayor, Dick Anderson, once told me that he hopes all Taft students go out and explore the world, attend some form of post-secondary training and then return to Lincoln City to make our town even better.