Snowboarding Pioneer to Speak at USU Sept. 25

The Utah State University STARS! announces their participation in National GEAR UP Week 2018, Sept. 23-29. This week commemorates the continuing success of Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP), a college access program providing students and families the support and resources they need for college success.

USU STARS! will celebrate National GEAR UP Week 2018 by bringing motivational speaker and pioneering snowboard mountaineer, Stephen Koch, to Logan for two days to speak with local GEAR UP students at Logan High School and at Utah State University.

As a mountaineer, Koch’s ascents and descents include some of the world’s most notable firsts. He is the first person to snowboard all major Teton Peaks and the first and only person to snowboard on all Seven Summits. As a veteran snowboard mountaineer, he will share lessons learned from his adventures on Mount Everest. 

“Last year, 54% of our graduating seniors across ten high schools that we served in Utah identified as first-generation students” said Mary Ann Parlin, USU STARS! Program Director Cohort 1. “Stephen’s many firsts parallel these tremendous efforts, and we want to motivate even more students to reach higher and climb farther than they ever thought possible.”

USU STARS! GEAR UP supports 7,400 middle and high school students statewide, and an additional 1,900 students pursuing post-secondary education. Locally, the program provided over 900 high school juniors and seniors at Logan High School with over 110,000 hours of rigorous academic support during the last school academic year.

Stephen Koch’s talk will take place Tuesday, Sept. 25, at 3 p.m., in the USU’s TSC Auditorium (Rm. 227). After the talk, students will have a chance to meet the speaker around the corner in the Center Colony (Rm. 221), co-hosted by USU’s Student Orientation and Transition Services. Students, faculty, and community members are invited to attend.

Since its inception in 1999, GEAR UP has improved educational outcomes for millions of low-income, minority and disadvantaged students across the United States. For more information, about USU STARS! mission to enhance student readiness for college and support a college-going culture in Utah., visit

Contact and Writer: Jeannine Huenemann, 435-797-0234,

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