Dawson Williams is a Junior at Northern Arizona University and says his time in Arizona GEAR UP helped him get to where he is today.
Dawson grew up in Bullhead City, Arizona, where he was first introduced to GEAR UP in middle school and began learning about postsecondary education. Dawson’s school was a part of the 2012 grant cycle that followed a cohort from middle school through their first year in postsecondary education.
In high school, Dawson was exposed to the college experience and had the opportunity to tour universities across the state. He recalled the Summer Leadership Academy at Northern Arizona University, where he and several other GEAR UP students spent a week living in the NAU dorms and learning more about college life.
“I was glad I got to experience different colleges. Being there a week is better than just a visit,” Dawson said.
Dawson admitted that college seemed intimidating at first, but support from his counselor through the process helped him keep going. “It seemed like every time I was about to fall, she never let me,” Dawson said.
Dawson says one of the most impactful moments of GEAR UP occurred when his cohort went on a visit to meet the mayor of Flagstaff, Arizona. “In high school, our counselor [Amber Parker] set up a meeting with the mayor, and he even wrote me a letter of recommendation,” Dawson said.
Dawson graduated from Mohave High School and headed back to Flagstaff, this time, with a $24,000 scholarship from Northern Arizona University. Dawson began his college career studying orthodontia, but switched to Business Management, which is a great fit since he’s back at City Hall again. In addition to his full-time college studies, he works full time for the City of Flagstaff. Dawson hopes to one day become an attorney and start his own business.
“Where I’m now, I think is all possible through GEAR UP,” said Dawson.