Lights, camera, action! Local high school students got a chance to film their own mock talk show at the UTC TV Studio. The students are on campus as part of The University’s Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) initiative.

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GEAR UP is a college readiness program funded by the U.S. Department of Education and hosted on The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga campus. UTC has partnered with five Chattanooga area middle and high schools to provide the program to 1,000 students and their families.

According to Dr. Hunter Huckabay, Director of the UTC GEAR UP program, the purpose of GEAR UP is to help area low-income students prepare for and succeed in college.

“We offer a variety of programs, from mentoring to after school tutoring to assistance with the college admissions process and applying for financial aid. Our main goal is to provide our participants with ‘college knowledge’ and give them and their teachers and parents a network and support system to get them ready for college,” he said.

In addition to working with students during the school year, GEAR UP also organizes programs during the summer. Programs include Blast-Off Camp, where enrolled students work on their math skills, and Camp GEAR UP, a two-week boarding camp in partnership with the U.S. National Guard.

This summer, GEAR Up brought a group of high school students to UTC to work with student mentors and participate in fun activities across campus. According to Huckabay, this year’s group has dissected animals in a biology laboratory, completed a scavenger hunt in Lupton Library, and gone for a swim at the Aquatics and Recreation Center.

“The UTC campus community really opens up when we want to do an activity. Everyone is always so helpful and accommodating,” Huckabay said.

This was the first year GEAR UP participants visited the newly renovated UTC TV Studio. While at the studio, students worked alongside Mike Andrews, Instructor in the UTC Communication Department and Manager of the UTC Studio. The GEAR UP students acted as guests and hosts, asking and answering questions like, “Where do you plan to go to college?” and “What’s been your favorite campus activity so far?”

Several UTC students who work on Mocs News, the student-run TV and news station, were on hand to show the GEAR UP participants how to operate audio and video equipment.

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