Underclassmen entering into the University School of Education were able to get a taste of their next four years at an annual barbecue held by the college on Sept. 6.
The event, which was mandatory for all freshmen in the college, was held in order for new students to network with advisors and upperclassmen and to be introduced to the school’s STAR (Students Teaching Academic Responsibility) program.
STAR is a program in which incoming students are paired with an upperclassman mentor, in order to make the transition from high school to college easier and for students to learn how to take full advantage of all of the resources in the college.
The STAR program is entering its sixth year and has about 115 upperclassmen participants. Dean Charisse Willis said she wants the program to allow freshman to have a peer that they can turn to in order to make their transition from high school to college easier.
“We want the freshmen to know they have someone they can go to and we really want to make sure our students are happy,” Willis said.
Freshmen Rona Koka said she felt so far that the program was successful in doing that. “It is nice to know you are not alone,” she said
“The whole college process can be overwhelming. The School of Education has been so helpful.”
Dana Hetzel, a junior and participant in the STAR program, was able to meet with the two freshmen she will be mentoring in the upcoming months.
Hetzel said she remembered the time she attended the event as a freshman, and felt that it helped her feel more welcomed into the program and that she was glad to attend it again as a member of STAR.
“I remember going to the School of Ed barbecue my freshman year and feeling that sense of comfort,” she said.
“Being able to attend the barbecue as a STAR mentor was a great opportunity.”
Hetzel said she hopes to fulfill the role of the STAR mentor successfully, by assisting her freshmen both professionally and personally.
“I can give back and help the freshmen become acquainted with St. John’s, the School of Education, and ultimately, I can be a friend and shoulder to lean on as these years pass by,” she said.
Willis said she hopes that the STAR program, in addition to the lessons learned through a student’s four years, could help to keep students inspired towards a career in education.
“Some people will ask my students: why would you want to be a teacher?” she said. “Our department is here to remind students why they are here in the first place. Because a teacher inspired them.”