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Successful STARS Program adds DEI Element

October 05, 2020

Large group photo of STARS program studentsSTARS (Scholars Taking Off Academically & Rising to Success), a leadership program that supports students’ academic, professional and personal development, will add a new diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) element thanks to a generous donation through the Schoolcraft College Foundation.

“We are grateful to receive this gift to help us add this important component to the STARS program,” said Melissa Schultz, M.Ed., and Associate Dean of Retention and Student Services. “We had a successful first year, and this will help us continue to build momentum through meaningful actions around diversity, inclusion, equity and social justice.”

The DEI element will benefit from the expertise of Marina Shoemaker, Foundation board member and director of global diversity and inclusion, women/LGBTQ/disability, General Motors.

“I am excited to be part of the launch of this new program,” Shoemaker said. “It’s important that students help understand and engage in the DEI conversation. This program is designed to start that conversation through trained DEI Student Scholars.” Shoemaker is volunteering her time to help build the program.

STARS seeks to connect students to peers, resources, and opportunities to foster a sense of belonging and to enhance their overall college experience. Overall goals for the program include academic and personal enrichment, developing career and transfer-ready skills and building a social network through transformational learning experiences.

The program was led in part by Academic Success Coach Dr. Carmen Wilson and STARS Peer Mentor Lisa Taylor. A total of 15 students were part of the pilot program, which had four pillars: Service Learning, Social Engagement, Academic Success and Leadership Development.

The service learning component focused on understanding and making connections between various topics of diversity, inclusion, equity and social justice. Overall, the cohort of STARS had a student retention and completion rate of 87% for the first academic year and an average cumulative grade point average of 3.40.

Students began their journey by taking the student success course as a cohort and worked throughout the year to complete more than 20 hours of one on one academic success coaching, 10 hours of success workshops, and at least 20 hours of service learning.   

With that success as a foundation, emphasizing the DEI element will add even more value as STARS begins its second year.

“It is vital that Schoolcraft College students are educated about and understand the importance of DEI,” Schultz said. “This will help engage Schoolcraft students, staff and faculty to learn and understand DEI and inspire them to incorporate it as part of our campus culture.”

Through the generous support of a donor, the Schoolcraft College Foundation is providing $25,000 toward scholarships, training and programming. This includes $4,000 to be split evenly by two STARS DEI Student Scholar ($1,000 per semester).

The DEI Advocates will have several responsibilities, including identifying issues and setting goals, engaging with faculty and students, and partnering with the College’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force.

For more information about STARS, call Melissa Schultz at 734-462-4534 or email