This archived article was written by: Katrina Wood
After nine years of working as coordinator of the GEAR UP program at USU Eastern, Brenda Rawson retires June 30.
Rawson enjoys an abundance of activities and hobbies. She goes on monthly hikes, attends dance classes every Thursday night and enjoys cooking new recipes. Along with her husband, she started a tradition where every time they see a review for a new restaurant that interest them in the “Salt Lake Tribune,” they eat there the next time they’re visiting the area. Over the years, she’s collected a list of restaurants they intend to attend.
Before Rawson worked at Eastern, she worked in the Salt Lake public school system. Eventually she became an adjunct English teacher at Eastern for eight years. During that time, she started looking for a full-time job. After seeing an ad in the paper for GEAR UP and realizing she qualified, she applied for the job and was interviewed. Shortly afterward, she received the job and became the coordinator for Eastern’s GEAR UP.
As manager of GEAR UP, Rawson’s duties include hiring personnel and tutors and helping plan and execute activities, which her staff helps with. She oversees all components of the program, but each staff memer has their own responsibilities. With all the experiences and downs they have been through, they have become like family over the years.
Rawson learned much in her nine years of working at GEAR UP. Among the greatest lessons, Rawson came to understand that everyone has a different approach to life. “There’s no one certain pathway.” Rawson believes everyone should work together and be tolerant and non-judgmental, plus learn to work together and collaborate.
When it comes to the students, the biggest difference Rawson hopes she made was that she opened their eyes to the available opportunities. “If they want to get a college education, they can.” She loves watching the students continue their education and realize they can reach for the stars. In Rawson’s eyes, “Education is the key to opportunity.” Once they realize the possibilities, the world is open to them.
Along with her triumphs, Rawson overcomes many difficulties while managing the program. Though numerous students are enrolled, there are many who do not participate and take advantage of GEAR UP’s services.“Kids are busy,” Rawson says, “They have to prioritize and pick and choose. Sometimes GEAR UP is not in their top priorities.” Despite this, she and her staff do their best to help the students in every way they can.
Rawson has loved her time in GEAR UP. She thanks the parents and students for their trust in the program, their participation and input and their willingness to let them help. She gives thanks to the school principals who have allowed GEAR UP to offer its services, and their willingness to let them help. She shows gratitude to her staff and tutors for their dedication, work ethic, honesty and passion, and she also gives thanks to the college personnel for their constant support throughout these nine years.
Rawson’s passion for helping others touched many lives. Her love for lifting students has left a lasting mark that has pushed many to aim high and reach for the stars. She has left a legacy that will never leave Eastern.