University of Washington GEAR UP hosted an open house on February 15, 2013 for its new office building on the campus of Heritage University in Toppenish, WA.
The program featured remarks from Dr. Sheila Edwards Lange, UW Vice President For Minority Affairs and Vice Provost For Diversity, as well Dr. John Bassett, Heritage University President, UW GEAR UP Director Loueta Johnson, and UW GEAR UP Assistant Director Andy Pascua. Patsy Whitefoot, Director of Indian Education for the Toppenish School District and Yakama tribal member, offered a traditional Native American blessing and song. All speakers emphasized the importance of collaboration, building trust, and investing in the community.
The partnership between Heritage University and UW GEAR UP began back in 1999. Both educational entities have grown and strengthened over the years, culminating in Heritage building a permanent home for UW GEAR UP. The new 3,100 square foot building is a vast improvement over the portable trailer that previously housed the UW GEAR UP staff. Native American basket patterns/designs are subtly featured in the building’s beautiful brickwork.
“Getting economically disadvantaged students to believe they can attend college and succeed, is one of our common goals”, noted Director Loueta Johnson. “This beautiful new building symbolizes our permanent and ongoing commitment to help students from low-income families prepare for and succeed in higher education.”