GEAR UP summer program coordinator passionate about access to education

Author: BHSU Communications/Monday, June 13, 2016/Categories: 2016

Murray Lee, statewide coordinator of summer programs for SD GEAR UP at Black Hills State University, said GEAR UP helps to fill the information gap and provide skills to ensure students succeed in college.

Murray Lee furthers his passion of helping American Indian students prepare to succeed in college as statewide coordinator of summer programs with SD GEAR UP at Black Hills State University.

A BHSU alum from Rapid City, Lee says the combination of GEAR UP's summer and academic year programs provide the link families need to help their children through the high school to college transition.

"I'm excited to be part of GEAR UP because our summer programs are going to ensure students have those baseline skills in college preparation, technology, and literacy to expand and succeed in college," said Lee.

As statewide coordinator of GEAR UP's summer programs, Lee is charged with designing and implementing programs for middle and high school students that are both academically enriching and fun.

Before joining SD GEAR UP at BHSU, Lee worked for the Partnership with Native Americans (formerly National Relief Charities) American Indian Foundation for Education for 10 years. He administered scholarships and presented workshops at universities and high schools talking with students and families about how to prepare academically, financially, and emotionally for higher education.

"As I traveled around talking with families and students about college readiness, I realized there is a large information gap about how college works," said Murray. "I see SD GEAR UP as an opportunity to continue to do this important work."

Lee says he is greatly influenced by his ancestors. Growing up, he spent summers with his grandmother who taught for 12 years at Little Wound School on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Lee is a descendant of Gabriel Renville, the revered chief of the Sisseton-Wahpeton tribe, a man whom Lee looks to as an example of integrity.

"I've spent my life working with Native Americans because it's such an important piece of who I am and an important piece of what I want to contribute to the world," said Lee. "We have triumphs and we have tragedies, but with a college degree the opportunities for the future are endless."

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