Meet the GEAR UP FAMILY!  Provided are short bios and contact information for each member.


Dr. Pamela Bellamy – Program Director


A true Spartan Dr. Bellamy received her BA, MA and Ph.D. from MSU. A native of Detroit and a product of the Detroit Public School System Dr.B. as a high school student started working with youth through the Department of Parks and Recreation. She knew from that point on that providing youth with educational opportunities would be her calling. With almost 23 years working with the GEAR UP Program (formerly known as the King-Chavez-Parks Program) Dr. B has seen many of your students graduate to take center stage… to quote Dr. B. “I am honored to be a part of this wonderful journey with our students.”


Kurt Reed – Assistant Director/Coordinator


What’s up FAMILY?!  My name is Mr. Reed, and if you’re reading this – I’m impressed you took the initiative to do a little research about what the GEAR UP “Family” is all about!  Our program has a lot to offer students, families, and educators – so come out and join us at one of our Saturday Workshops, and get a first-hand look at the many opportunities available to you!


Here’s a little background information about me, and the path that lead me to become a part of the GEAR UP Family.  I am a graduate of Sexton High School in Lansing, MI.  My academic career continued when I went to college at Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant, MI, where I obtained my Bachelor’s Degree of the Arts in Interpersonal & Public Communications.  My dream has always been to incorporate public speaking into my career, and I’m so thankful I’ve had the opportunity to do so, while working with various youth programs over the past 30 years!


I am motivated by a desire to help youth be successful through their own academic experiences and in life!  The GEAR UP Program has allowed me to share my own academic and life experiences, as well as the many resources I have learned about through my career as an educator.  I am also motivated by the need to enhance the overall quality of “The Family” we have established with the GEAR UP Program.


Samantha Luna-Simmons – Coordinator

Hi! I was born and raised in Texas and made my way to Michigan after high school graduation in 1998. I started working for GEAR UP back when it was the King/Chavez/Parks College Day Program in 2002 as an undergraduate at Michigan State University. I started as a student facilitator and a year later I graduated and was asked to work as an interim coordinator. Another year later I became a permanent coordinator for the program. I work with Albion and Lansing school districts.


“Kids do not commit to programs, they commit to people.” I heard this a long time ago and I wish I could remember who said it, nonetheless I truly believe in it. My work with my students is personal because I didn’t have anyone telling me I could go to college and how I could do it. I am giving them something I didn’t get. I am committed to what I do and trust that my students know I am here for them. We are FAMILY!


Joanne MacFadden – Coordinator


“How I Got a College Education for $800.00… Maybe You Can Too!“Hello prospective students, families, teachers…. Welcome to our website!! Hopefully you find lots of resources and encouragement here, so let me start with my pep talk: The college dream can come true! Like everyone else who serves on the MI GEAR UP staff, we want to help you because of the barriers we overcame to get a college education. I became emancipated (independent) from my family when I graduated high school, so I could fill out my own financial aid forms and pursue scholarships; due to one parent’s “whereabouts unknown” status, and the other’s severe health issues, they could not complete them. Since I had kept my grades, extra-curriculars, volunteer work, etc in tip-top shape, M.S.U. and the Pell Grant completely covered my education, including a work-study job (student job paid by federal government as part of financial aid.) The only loan I took out was when I had to skip a semester of work for student teaching, graduating with $800.00 in debt. No, that is not a typo — I got a college education for $800.00. I also worked as a night receptionist, and Resident Assistant in the residence halls, which paid for the balance of tuition and my room and food plan some years.After I finished my B.A. in Elementary Education/Social Science with English and Fine Arts, I was so determined to keep helping other students I returned to the residence halls as a Graduate Advisor and completed my M.A. in Higher, Adult and Lifelong Education (H.A.L.E.), and was trained to create workshops focusing on reading, test-taking, study skills and learning styles to help students “work smarter, not harder”, increase their success rate in college, and graduate on-time. After developing workshops for Residence Life, I then spent several years training physicians in the College of Osteopathic Medicine, before returning to working with youth in MI GEAR UP, and have been here since 1997. If you have any study skills/testing question etc., I am here to help you! Wouldn’t it be great to spend less time and get better grades? Looking forward to talking to you and I will be starting a help blog on this site soon.

Best wishes, Joanne “JoMac” MacFadden