STAR program broadens horizons for incoming Lumberjacks

Students hold up their tie-dyed T-shirts.

STAR program broadens horizons for incoming Lumberjacks

For the 35th year, NAU welcomed incoming first-generation freshmen to campus for four weeks this summer as part of the Successful Transition and Academic Readiness (STAR) program.

The program focused on providing an immersive college experience, highlighting resources, peer mentoring and individualized tutoring available to NAU students and giving students the chance to take a couple of classes before officially starting college, all aimed at providing a seamless transition to college.

“I wanted to get early exposure to NAU’s student life, the class styles, campus culture and first-generation resources,” said Jazmine Ruelas, who participated in STAR this summer. She plans to major in exercise physiology and modern languages. “Knowing I could get a head start in prerequisite classes was also a bonus, as it gave me an idea on how a college class might work.”

STAR participants engaged in daily classes, supplemental labs and coursework, earning six college credits toward their undergraduate program. While coursework was highlighted throughout the program, students also had the chance to build relationships with classmates through on-campus housing, in the Calderon Living Community.

Under the supervision of faculty and student staff, participants were able to connect with other students like them.

Students finger-painting outside under a tree.“I met many other first-generation students who were just as nervous and excited as I was to start the school year,” said STAR participant Alyssa Mcdorman, who will major in criminal justice. Her favorite experience was the talent show for students and program assistants. “Everyone is going through the same thing, so you are never really alone.”

The STAR program gives students experience in a balanced social and academic life in college while creating space to encourage that success. “Many nights we’d hang out playing Mario Kart or Just Dance until super late after finishing a heavy class workday to relax and unwind,” Ruelas said.

STAR and NAU’s mission is not just to prepare students in the classroom, but to help them develop life skills and relationships that prepare them for the lives they want to lead after graduating.

“The vision is to continue finding innovative ways to elevate the program and meet students where they are,” said STAR director Jodi Stooksberry, assistant director of First-Generation Programs. “When they succeed, we succeed, and we are cheering them on all the way to graduation.”

In addition to STAR, NAU offers a plethora of opportunities and resources for every Lumberjack and emphasizes its efforts to make their aid and support known throughout the student’s college life.

“I think students should absolutely do STAR as it not only gets you ahead with classes but gets you access to facilities and many beneficial resources that will help make the transition into college easier,” Ruelas said.

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Dasha Ordonez | NAU Communications



NAU Communications