STAR Academy helps prepare incoming STEM students from underrepresented populations

STAR Academy helps prepare incoming STEM students from underrepresented populations

Students Brenden Clemenson, Roovens Faustima, Briana Rivera, De’Von Malloy and Alisa Patel are shown with Joseph Divis. Divis is assistant vice president for External Affairs, Mid-Atlantic Region, AT&T Services.

About 30 first-generation college students and students from underrepresented populations in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields got a head start this summer on college life in their majors via a nine-year-old program at Rowan University.

Rowan's Science and Technology at Rowan (STAR) Academy, a four-week, pre-college institute for incoming freshman admitted via the University’s Achieving Success through Collaboration, Engagement and Determination (ASCEND) program, provides a chance for participants to prepare for college – and earn college credit – prior to the fall semester.  Rowan this year introduced an engineering track for students interested in the field. AT&T funded this new component of program. The communication giant has invested in similar Rowan programs for a half dozen years.

As part of ASCEND, STAR (like the umbrella program) is a special admissions offering that provides intentional programming and support throughout the summer and academic year to improve student outcomes. That includes activities related to career preparation, research development, financial literacy, counseling and success coaching and features advising, tutoring, mentoring, leadership development and supplemental courses.

The goal of the STAR program is to increase first-generation and underrepresented minority student enrollment in STEM majors at Rowan University. Throughout the program, students are exposed to careers in the STEM field, a diverse faculty and upperclassmen, as well as carefully designed workshops developed to teach students about proper study skills, time management and the demands of being successful in a STEM major.

“The STAR Academy is different from other initiatives because it primarily focuses on developing each student’s sense of belonging and academic confidence within the sciences. This has a significant impact on their persistence within their studies,” said Dawn Singleton, ASCEND program director.

During the past nine years, STAR has served more than 132 students across eight freshman cohorts.

“The STAR program is rigorous and collegial, and it creates a foundation for the participants to be academically, socially and professionally successful,” said Joseph Divis, assistant vice president for AT&T External Affairs, who visited the program and met with students. “These young adults are talented, motivated and eager to embrace the opportunity of the STAR program and a Rowan University education.”