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Our Success Coaches

GEAR UP North Carolina has partnered with eight institutions of higher education to provide coaching for first-year students graduating from select North Carolina high schools.


Delmus Willis

Delmus Willis is currently the GEAR UP Success Coach at Lenoir Community College. As the GEAR UP Success Coach, Delmus’ focus is to help first generation college students navigate their college experience by connecting students with necessary resources and academic advising for student success. Prior to this role, Delmus was the Career Coach for Lenoir Community College at Greene Central High School and served in this capacity for over 2 years. It is his goal to use his prior knowledge as a high school career coach to ensure that all GEAR UP students transition smoothly from high school into college.

Delmus is a Navy Veteran and believes that his military experiences surrounding networking, facilitating difficult situations and finding solutions are great attributes that can be implemented in helping his GEAR UP students. Delmus has a Masters in Adult Education and a Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice. Being a native of Eastern North Carolina, Delmus understands what it is like to grow up in a rural area and the importance of a college education.

Lenoir Community College
Ashleigh Yearde

Ashleigh Yearde is the GEAR UP Success Coach at Pitt Community College under the division of Academic Advising. She assists first-generation students to break down barriers to meet their academic goals. It is truly her passion to serve students to meet their true potential. Ashleigh currently lives in North Carolina and is originally from Whitehall, Pennsylvania.

Presently, she is pursuing a Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration: Education Leadership. She holds a master’s in Clinical Social Work (2018) from East Carolina University. Ashleigh has extensive knowledge in creating and implementing effective and individualized plans.

Pitt Community College
Jeffrey Quick

As the GEAR UP Student Success Coach at Sandhills Community College, Jeffrey manages a caseload of first-year students from target GEAR UP NC high schools. He is responsible for providing high-quality coaching sessions that contribute to their personal growth, development, and motivation to retain to their next academic year. Jeffrey believes that for students to become their overall best selves, they need to know that someone is in their corner instructing and “cheering” them on to greater success.

Before joining GEAR UP, Jeffrey served in various capacities within the Scotland County School district to include GEAR UP Program Coordinator, Middle School Exceptional Children, and Science teacher.  He holds an Associate in Arts degree from Sandhills Community College, a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Fayetteville State University, and a Master of Science in Higher Education from Walden University.  He identifies as an African American male from humble beginnings and truly believes that “Education is the most powerful weapon that one can use to change the World.” ~Nelson Mandela~

Sandhills Community College
Dana Chandler

Currently, Dana serves as the GEAR UP Success Coach at Elizabeth City State University where she has worked for 3 years in multiple capacities. In the Success Coach role, Dana engages the experience of first-year Elizabeth City State University students. In 2018, Dana became an alum of the institution when she earned a B.S. degree in Elementary Education with a concentration in Mathematics. She is currently working on a master’s degree in Liberal Studies from UNC Wilmington. Dana is a first-generation college student which helps to fuel her passion for students fulfilling their purpose-driven goals. Dana has been a certified life coach for the last 15 years. Dana’s coaching philosophy is focused on person-centered attention, giving each student the space to express their thoughts and goals as she partners with the student to reach a greater reality.

Elizabeth City State University
GEAR UP Success Coach

More information coming soon.

East Carolina University
Jaade Williams

Jaade Williams is the GEAR UP Success Coach located on the campus of North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. On campus, she cultivates relationships between departments and helps to introduce campus resources to current and potential GEAR UP students. Before her role with GEAR UP, Jaade served as a Relationship Manager with Bellevue University where she recruited and enrolled students that wanted to continue their academic career to pursue their bachelor’s or master’s degree online. She also worked at Danville Community College where her duties included counseling students towards their intended majors and working with them through the admissions process. Jaade holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Services with a minor in Psychology from Old Dominion University. She furthered her education by obtaining her Master of Science in Higher Education with a concentration in Student Affairs from Kaplan University. Jaade comes from a single parent household where her mother worked and instilled the value of hard work and education. She brings that mindset and work ethic with her to every job she holds to ensure that she empowers students to be their own brilliant shade.

North Carolina A&T State University
GEAR UP Success Coach

More information coming soon. In the meantime learn more about GEAR UP at UNC Greensboro.

UNC Greensboro
Shania McMillian

As the GEAR UP Success Coach at UNC Pembroke, Shania supports, mentors, and coaches first-year college students selected from GEAR UP high schools with their transitional efforts. Shania served as an Academic Success Coach for two years in the Center for Student Success at UNC Pembroke prior to her current role. She takes pride in the institution as she is also a 2018 Alumna of UNC Pembroke with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Mass Communications: Public Relations. Shania chose to further her education with earning a Master of Education in Higher Education from UNC Wilmington in December 2020. She embraces her intersectional identities of being an indigenous woman, living in a low-to-middle socioeconomic community, and identifying as a first-generation college student because it is how her passion of helping others in higher education emerged. Through Shania’s kind and encouraging spirit, she believes that every first-generation college student is not alone and can be successful.

UNC Pembroke