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Rusty DeWees, Cindy Pierce Headline Vermont State GEAR UP Week

Schools statewide celebrate 15 years of prepping students for college success

WINOOSKI (Sept. 17, 2014) – Rusty DeWees, aka The Logger, and Cindy Pierce, well-known comic storyteller, will bring their humor and wisdom to nearly 20 Vermont schools as part of Vermont’s participation in National GEAR UP Week, Sept. 22-26.

“Rusty and Cindy will put their unique humorous twist on the issues teens grapple with as they prepare for what comes after high school,” said Dianne Griggs, GEAR UP manager at Vermont Student Assistance Corp. “Their own life experiences are sure to make an impression on how students view their own passions, opportunities and choices both in and out of school.”

DeWees is a household name to Vermonters, celebrating all that makes rural Vermont and its people so cherished. The Stowe High School graduate earned a degree from Champlain College before heading off to a career of acting, writing, music and comedy. But Rusty says his time working with Vermont youth to promote positive and heartfelt choices is particularly gratifying.

“Young Vermont students are an alert, focused and engaging lot,” said DeWees. “That’s what I’ve found when presenting to them … always. My GEAR UP presentation is not only for students – parents will be invited to share the evening presentations with their kids. That’s smart. I love Vermont. Working with GEAR UP to gear up young Vermonters and their parents for education beyond high school is a worthy effort. We’ll all learn and have fun. No joke.”

Pierce, who is an innkeeper in Etna, N.H. and mother of three teenagers, keeps her skills sharp – and hilarious – with stories about finding the way through everyday life. She is particularly inspiring in helping kids connect with their “healthy crew” and tap into their inner compass. Pierce holds a master’s degree in education from Antioch New England.

“These days, young people are exposed to information and issues earlier than most adults would consider addressing those issues,” Pierce said. “I believe that information is power. With humor and honesty, I hope to give kids some tools and information to help them find focus and withstand inevitable speed bumps while navigating life.”

GEAR UP, or Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, is federal grant program of the U.S. Department of Education designed to increase the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education. In Vermont, VSAC’s GEAR UP outreach counselors work with more than 3,200 middle and high school students one-on-one and in small groups in 54 select schools across the state. GEAR UP also provides support to parents, which includes high school and college planning information, assistance with college and financial aid applications, and career planning information for their children.

In addition to the academic and career programming, when these GEAR UP students continue their education after high school, they will receive an annual $2,000 scholarship for up to four years of schooling.

In support of GEAR UP schools, GEAR UP provides professional development opportunities to faculty, staff and administration, and provides resources that support school improvement initiatives.

About VSAC

Vermont Student Assistance Corporation is a public, nonprofit corporation created by the Vermont Legislature in 1965 to help Vermonters plan and pay for education or training beyond high school. VSAC administers Vermont’s 529 college savings plan; outreach services to encourage low-income students to aspire to and complete college; college and career planning services for all Vermonters; need-based state grants for full-time, part-time and non-degree study; public and private scholarship programs; and Vermont Advantage education loans. Find us at or on Facebook at

This entry was posted on Wednesday, September 17th, 2014 at 11:03 am and is filed under News & Views, Recommended Reading, VSAC News Releases. Both comments and pings are currently closed.