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A best-selling author, acclaimed speaker and award-winning entrepreneur often referred to as the "Gen Y Guy" will be the keynote speaker Tuesday [APRIL 1] for TEAM GEAR UP's annual Career Symposium at East Central University.

Jason Ryan Dorsey, who wrote the national bestseller "Graduate to Your Perfect Job" in his college dorm room, will address approximately 320 9th grade students from Allen, Byng, Milburn, Roff, Stonewall, Tupelo, Vanoss and Wapanucka.

The Career Symposium helps increase GEAR UP students' awareness of the many career opportunities available. Students also will have an opportunity to learn about two of 25 occupations represented during breakout sessions, ranging from auto body technician to chiropractor to the military and nursing.

GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) was created in 1998 as part of the Higher Education Act to encourage young people to have high expectations, stay in school, take the right courses, study hard and go to college.

ECU's TEAM GEAR UP received a six-year grant to provide services to students in rural districts in Coal, Johnston and Pontotoc counties. The program began following the students in the 7th grade and will continue through their graduation in 2011.

GEAR UP also forms partnerships with businesses, community organizations and educational entities to help equip students with the academic skills, encouragement, information and resources necessary to enter and succeed in post-secondary education.

Now 29, Dorsey has delivered his unique style of comedy and how-to strategies at more than 700 schools and colleges. His first book became required reading in 1,650 schools, colleges and workforce programs.

Dorsey's insight into Generation Y has led to his appearances on television's 60 Minutes, 20/20, NBC's Today Show and ABC's The View, and in the Wall Street Journal and Fortune Magazine. Random House recently published his newest book, "My Reality Check Bounced!"

He also is the author of "50 Ways to Improve Schools for Under $50" and won the Austin Under 40 Entrepreneur of the Year Award at age 25, one of the youngest winners ever.

Dorsey grew up in a small town with seemingly few opportunities and abundant challenges. At a critical moment, a teacher inspired him to leave his "troublemaker" friends behind and start college early.

He attended college programs in Florida, Israel and New York before becoming an 18-year-old junior at the University of Texas. Realizing he could help other young people get a head start on success, he wrote "Graduate to Your Perfect Job."

Word of his book and message eventually reached the media and education and business leaders began asking him to keynote their high-profile conferences. It is estimated that more than 100,000 members of Generation Y have used the book as a resource to enter the workforce.

He plans to release a new book about Generation Y next fall.

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