Office of Minority Affairs & Diversity

August 8, 2013

Senator Patty Murray Honored for Commitment to Education

Senator Patty Murray gives remarks during an award ceremony at the UW.U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) was presented the National Council for Community and Education Partnerships’ (NCCEP) Champions for Student Success Award in a ceremony on the University of Washington (UW) campus, Aug. 6.

The honor is given to members of Congress who work to improve public education for all students through enhanced public policy, and who support federal education programs designed to promote college access and student success. Sen. Murray is the 19th all-time recipient.

eNews Fall 2013The award presentation was attended by a group of over 50 middle and high school students representing 20 Washington state school districts served by Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP).  GEAR UP is a federal grant program that increases the number of low-income middle and high school students who are prepared to enter and succeed in college. The UW Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity manages two GEAR UP grants serving nearly 5,000 students in Eastern Washington and Skagit Valley.

Senator Patty Murray during the NCCEP Award Ceremony

Senator Patty Murray with Washington State GEAR UP Director Weiya Liang (left) and Washington Student Achievement Council Executive Director Gene Sharratt.Anil Kapahi

Sen. Murray has been a supporter of programs such as GEAR UP throughout her political career. During the ceremony, she spoke to the students about her own family’s struggles and the importance that school played in her educational journey.

“And that’s why programs like GEAR UP are so important,” Sen. Murray said. “Because each one of you here deserves the chance to succeed…to go to college – maybe even here at UW – though I went to Washington State – to start an exciting, successful career, and maybe even run for the U.S. Senate one day.”

Sen. Murray’s message made on impact on many of the students at the ceremony, especially Alondra Perez, a soon-to-be freshman at Grandview High School in Grandview, Wash.

“The fact that she comes from Washington, she thinks about education and she represents the students, I just think it’s amazing,” Perez said. “Her words are truly inspirational.”

Senator Murray with Sheila Edwards Lange, Genoveva Morales and Enrique Morales

(l-r) UW Vice President for Minority Affairs & Vice Provost for Diversity Sheila Edwards Lange, Washington State University-Tri-Cities Early Outreach Director Genoveva Morales, Senator Patty Murray and OMA&D Associate Vice President Enrique Morales.Anil Kapahi

Thomas Lawrence, a GEAR UP alumnus and current UW student from Neah Bay, Wash., presented Sen. Murray with the award stole. Also giving remarks during the program were UW Vice President for Minority Affairs and Vice Provost for Diversity Sheila Edwards Lange, Washington Student Achievement Council Executive Director Gene Sharratt and Washington State GEAR UP Director Weiya Liang.

Jeff Charbonneau, a chemistry, physics and engineering teacher at Zillah High School, joined the festivities from Eastern Washington as well. Charbonneau is the 2013 National Teacher of the Year and among the accomplishments for which he was honored included his efforts to expand science, technology, engineering and mathematics initiatives at his school in partnership with UW GEAR UP.

The Champions for Student Success Award was originally announced during the 2013 NCCEP/GEAR UP Annual Conference held in San Francisco, Calif., July 14-17. Sen. Murray accepted via video message during the conference.

In Washington state, 35,000 students receive services from 10 GEAR UP programs. Services include mentoring, tutoring, college visits, test preparation and admissions and financial aid assistance.

Senator Murray with UW GEAR UP students from Eastern Washington.

Senator Murray with UW GEAR UP students from Eastern Washington.Anil Kapahi

UW also has a contract with the state GEAR UP program administered by the Washington Student Achievement Council to provide professional development training for educators who serve 8,000 students in 40 schools throughout Washington state.

NCCEP is a non-profit, non-partisan organization working to increase access to higher education for economically disadvantaged students. It is the technical assistance and training provider for the state and partnership grantees who receive GEAR UP federal funds. NCCEP also serves as the voice of the GEAR UP community in Washington, D.C., and convenes the national GEAR UP conference.

The press release from Sen. Murray’s office is available here.

Photos by Anil Kapahi