This archived article was written by: Vivika Corona & Alex Anderson
Born and raised in Salt Lake City and an alumna of the University of Utah is Utah State University Eastern’s newest addition to the Eagle family, Linda Hapsmith. Hapsmith is the newly named director for the GEAR UP program on Eastern’s campus. GEAR UP is an acronym for Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs. It is a seven-year federal grant program that provides services and assistance for under deserving students in order to help them successfully graduate from high school and prepare for college. With a bachelor’s degree in child and family development, Hapsmith started working at a Head Start program, but ended up going back to the U of U to get her master’s degree in educational psychology. Specializing in rehabilitation counseling, she started working with children that had disabilities and school counseling. Originally Hapsmith wanted to be a junior high school counselor early on in her career. After working with children nine years in Utah, Hapsmith got a job in Pennsylvania and worked at Penn State the next 10 years at a regional campus and its main campus. Her next move took her to Fairbanks, Alaska, where she worked at the University of Alaska Fairbanks as the academic advising center director. With all the experience and traveling in her pocket, why did she decide to apply for a job and come to Eastern? She said, family of course. “We loved Alaska but it is really far away. People realize how north it is but don’t realize how west it is. It’s almost as far west as Tahiti. It takes forever to get anywhere. My family lives mostly in Utah.” Although most of her family lives in the Salt Lake area, Hapsmith has got used to living in small towns and didn’t like the idea of living in a big city like Salt Lake City again, especially with traffic, weather inversion and the smog She actually looked at living in Price a few years ago, but it didn’t work out. When she and her family moved back to Utah, she hoped to retire in Price or southern Utah. A little while before moving, she ended up looking in Helper and ended moving there instead. Hapsmith almost didn’t apply for the GEAR UP position after some debate of going part time or full time and self-doubt. Her husband also helped convinced her as he works in facilities on campus and mentioned how nice the GEAR UP offices are. Starting in October 2017, she adjusted well and is happy to be here. “It has been a big learning curve in terms of this [Gear UP] grant and how things are run.” Some goals she has to include getting the hang of things. Still being relatively new can be a bit dif cult at times with learning how things work and what can and can’t be done within the program. Online tutoring is another big thing Hapsmith would like to implement next year for students. “The whole point of the program is to help students from middle grades through high school prepare for and enter and be successful in college. We have to help with academics.” It is a new twist on helping students. From past experiences, waiting for students to come and ask for help hasn’t been as bene ting. She is hopeful that online tutoring will be a lot more helpful because they have access from home.