Academic STARS start college success early with summer program

Jackie DeMate

It’s a busy summer for Academic STARS students as they prepare for the fall

semester in a five-week summer program that’s held on Kent’s campus. Academic

S.T.A.R.S. (Student Achieving and Reaching for Success) is a transition program for

incoming Kent State freshmen who are African-American, Latino American, and Native


The students live in dorms, take courses while they’re on campus

during the summer. Along with College Writing and Interpreting the Black Experience,

students also take an emotional intelligence workshop that has been newly introduced

this summer.

Oscar Ramos, the Assistant Director of A.A.L.A.N.A. (African American Latino

American Native American) Initiatives is the instructor for the course on emotional


“The basic idea behind emotional intelligence is if students have strong skills

they’re more likely to succeed as a college student and later on in their career,” said

Ramos. “The way to think about it is the same way one might think about “I.Q,” the

intelligence quotient. What we’re measuring is “E.Q,” the emotional quotient.”

The emotional intelligence workshop looks at leadership skills, self-management,

and interpersonal skills. Within these three categories are various other sets of

emotional skills such as time-management, stress-management and commitment ethic

that the students learn about and are assessed on over the course of the workshop.

According to Shana Lee, director of the Student Multicultural Center and the

Academic STARS program, the program itself started in 1990 as an endeavor to assist

the university in retaining its African American students. The program was initially

developed to assist students from the Akron and Cleveland areas, but was expanded in

1995 to include students from all over the country.

“This year we sent out over 2700 invitations for students to learn about the

program and see if it’s something they might be interested in, and then we end up

interviewing sixty students for twenty-five slots,” Lee said about how the students are

admitted to the program.

The Academic STARS program is one of the longest running retention programs

that Kent State has for its AALANA students. There is a 90 percent retention rate from

freshman to sophomore year. While the Academic STARS program sets students up for

academic success it also has been widely successful for students on a personal level as


“I feel like the experience is so life-changing,” said Campbell Garth, an incoming

educational interpreting major from Pittsburgh, PA. “I’m making friends for a life time, I’m

learning about myself, and these are experiences I couldn’t get anywhere else. I am so

thankful for this program.”

Contact Jacqueline DeMate at [email protected].