The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

South students reach high for STARS in TRIO program

By Montreal Spencer/south news editor

First­-generation, low-income and disabled students can get help graduating college from the STARS program, a counterpart of the TRIO program.

TRIO was first started with the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 as a response to then-President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty.

In 1997, Student Support Services, also known as STARS on South Campus, was awarded its first grant.

The program serves 165 students per year. Since its inception, STARS has served more than 1,000 students. Many have gone on to pursue graduate and professional degrees.

The STARS staff consists of first-generation college students. Sharron Crear, TRIO director for the past nine years, says the program is student- centered.

“We advocate for students on all sorts of levels,” she said. “Students who participate in the program do extremely well in college.”

Crear set a goal of retaining 55 percent first-time college students who participate in the program in 2008. The program ended up retaining 70 percent, surpassing the staff’s expectations.

Crear believes students are customers and should be treated as such.

“We are the community’s college. We are called one for a reason,” she said. “Students are customers, and we’re here for you.”

The STARS program currently serves only South Campus students. 

Crear said she would like to see the program expand to other TCC campuses.

“I hope that in the future the program can expand to other campuses because the more students we serve, the better,” she said.

Dennis Lee, academic advisor for STARS, said he wished TCC had a program like this when he was younger.

“When I came here as a student, I didn’t know what to do. And I figured if they had a program like this, then I wouldn’t have made as many mistakes,” he said. “I couldn’t ask family members advice because no one had been to college.”

One student in the STARS program told Lee she never thought she would graduate from TCC. Since then, she transferred to TCU, graduated and now works on her master’s at Texas Wesleyan.

“We want students to think about their life after TCC. We want them to think about their future,” Lee said. “I think the program gives students hope.”

South Campus student Jim Eckstein said he would have been completely lost without the program.

“The staff is very helpful and wonderful to work with,” he said. “The counselors have created a degree plan for me and helped me tremendously when it comes to picking instructors.”

South student Tashina Simmons is a first-time, first-generation college student who was accepted in STARS this semester.

“Even before I was accepted in the program, they were very helpful and useful,” she said. “Mr. Lee is my favorite. He offered to help me write my educational plan for my four- year college.”

Rachel Caldwell is a South student who said she enjoyed her time in the STARS program before she transferred to the University of North Texas.

“I used to be in the program, and I would recommend other students to take advantage of what the program has to offer,” she said.

The program only has a few slots left, but the staff encourages students to apply even if those spots fill. With graduation comes open spots in the program so new students can enter.

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