GEAR UP Team Directory

Robert Kusmiesz, Assistant Director
(609) 343-4811, (609) 343-4709 (fax),

Robert Kusmiesz is the Assistant Director for GEAR UP Atlantic Cape, and has held this position since the program’s inception in 2012. In 1999, Robert obtained a B.A. in Computer Science and Information Systems from the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey. He also holds a Master’s of Business Administration from Georgian Court University. Before obtaining his current position as with GEAR UP, Robert worked as a technical assistant for the Educational Talent Search program. There, he recruited and maintained a caseload of over 200 low-income, first generation students. Robert has built a career based upon assisting students with academic and life decisions. He is highly experienced in the delivery of presentations, coordination of workshops, and federal grant writing.

Robert’s expertise as a program coordinator is inspired by his strong desire to spark student interest in higher education, while also providing students with the skills needed to make wise scholastic, career and life decisions. Above all, Robert’s favorite aspect of the GEAR UP program is interacting with students and chaperoning the wide variety of field trips and college tours that he schedules. He looks forward to the personal successes of all GEAR UP program participants.

Erica Hoskins, GEAR UP Counselor
(609) 343-4810, 

Erica Hoskins graduated with a B.A. in Linguistics from Rutgers University in 2006. Previous to becoming a Counselor with GEAR UP, Erica began working as a youth career coach at Atlantic Cape Community College; a title she continues to hold. Her ultimate career goal is to obtain a New Jersey Counselor’s license, in order to become a counselor at a local high school.

Erica’s expertise with comprehensive counseling gives her a competitive edge when working with GEAR UP students. She has plentiful experience in the areas of career, academic, and personal counseling. She truly enjoys working with youth. Erica hopes to help GEAR UP students recognize their potential, and believes that attending college is essential to continued success.

Jessica Brown, GEAR UP Counselor
(609) 343-4849,

Jessica Brown graduated with a B.A. in Sociology/Anthropology from Stockton University in 2015. She is currently working towards a Master of Arts degree in American Studies from Stockton University. Jessica worked as a mentor with the GEAR UP Program for two years, prior to being promoted to the position of Counselor. Jessica aspires to remain connected to the GEAR UP program, and also apply her degree to become a Sociological Consultant.

Jessica’s experience in sociology provides her with a unique perspective in application to the GEAR UP program. She is focused on assisting the students with taking the necessary strides to grow personally to better serve their community. Jessica is most passionate about working with youth, and encouraging them to create the future of their dreams. The collegiate experience has been a large contributor to her success, and she hopes to spread awareness about the importance of approaching education with an open mind.

Tara Yard, Curriculum Specialist
(609) 343-4811,

Tara Yard graduated with a B.A. in Teacher Education and B.A. in Sociology/Anthropology from Richard Stockton College in 2007.  Recently, in 2012, Tara obtained an M.A. in Education along with a Reading Specialist and Supervisor Certification from Fairleigh Dickinson University.  Tara has worked as an English Language Arts Teacher and Basic Skills Coordinator at the William Davies Middle School in Mays Landing, N.J for the past six years.  Before becoming a GEAR UP Curriculum Specialist, Tara served as an adjunct instructor and GEAR UP Teacher at Atlantic Cape Community College.

Tara’s experience as an educator/leader in the N.J public school system and experience teaching at the college level gives her the credentials necessary to serve as a GEAR UP Curriculum Specialist.  She is passionate about working with students and dedicated to the field of education.  Tara’s goal is to guide GEAR UP students into becoming lifelong learners who thrive in the post-secondary education setting.