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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

STARS program pairs advisers with students in need

South Campus students Forrest Mendez (left) and Santiago Muñoz get assistance from STARS program adviser Dennis Lee. The focus of the program is to partner students with faculty members to help them remain in school, graduate and transfer to a university. 
Andy Bonilla/The Collegian
South Campus students Forrest Mendez (left) and Santiago Muñoz get assistance from STARS program adviser Dennis Lee. The focus of the program is to partner students with faculty members to help them remain in school, graduate and transfer to a university. Andy Bonilla/The Collegian

By Mona Lisa Tucker/reporter

Former South Campus student Sandra Climer is now a bilingual kindergarten teacher for Birdville Independent School District and can honestly say she loves her job.

While at South, Climer was enrolled in the STARS program during the 2006-2007 academic school year.

South Campus students Forrest Mendez (left) and Santiago Muñoz get assistance from STARS program adviser Dennis Lee. The focus of the program is to partner students with faculty members to help them remain in school, graduate and transfer to a university.
Andy Bonilla/The Collegian

The focus of STARS is to partner with students to help them remain in school, graduate then transfer to a university, director of TRIO programs Sharron Crear said.

“The STARS program is filled with resources giving all of its members the tools for success such as book loans, tape recorders, laptops, computer usage but, most importantly, knowledgeable advice,” she said.

Climer truly enjoyed time spent with academic advisor Dennis Lee because he cares about students academically and personally, and he understands that outside factors can impact a student’s achievement for better or worse, she said.

Thanks to the STARS program, Climer was able to transfer to Texas Wesleyan University, where she graduated with honors from its school of education, she said.

“I was the first of four children to graduate from college, making my parents, as well as myself, extremely proud,” she said.

Her husband, Jim Climer, is currently in the program working toward his goal of receiving a bachelor’s degree, she said.

“They are extremely helpful with academic and transfer information, and their goal is for you to graduate. It’s a great program,” he said.

Charlotte Kelly is a first-generation older student who wasn’t computer literate and didn’t know how to process or apply what she was being taught, she said.

The program is patiently showing her how to apply herself and keeping her motivated, she said.

“They have made learning so easy for me. Now I have made up my mind to keep myself motivated and focused to succeed,” she said.

The STARS program, or Student Targeting and Reaching Success, began on South in 1997. STARS is funded through the Department of Education’s TRIO programs and was re-funded in 2010 with a five-year grant, she said.

On the district website, STARS can be found under the transitional programs section of Courses and Programs, Crear said.

To qualify, students must be the first in their family to attend college and must have a low income, Crear said.

It serves 165 students a year but last year served up to 213. They try not turn away any students but now have a waiting list, she said.

“In times past, we have not always had that really, really good problem. I think it’s a good challenge,” she said.

Some students who have a high GPA and/or are just looking to obtain tutoring for certain classes sometimes don’t get in because they don’t realize they can get help through the counseling center for academic success, Crear said.

Seventy-nine percent of participants were retained from fall of 2009­ to fall 2010. More than 90 percent of the program’s 2009-2010 participants were in good standing at the end of the academic year, Crear said.

“It’s really a retention program, and we try to really keep students in school,” Crear said.

 

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