S.T.A.R.S. Program seeks to academically nurture Latino youth

A+Marywood+volunteer+tutors+a+student+during+a+S.T.A.R.S.+program+session+in+October+2019.+Due+to+the+ongoing+pandemic%2C+all+sessions+this+semester+are+being+held+remotely.%0A%0APhoto+Courtesy+of+Emily+Coleman

A Marywood volunteer tutors a student during a S.T.A.R.S. program session in October 2019. Due to the ongoing pandemic, all sessions this semester are being held remotely. Photo Courtesy of Emily Coleman

Eric Spivak, Contributor

Students Together Achieving Remarkable Success (S.T.A.R.S.) is an after school tutoring and mentoring program for local Latinex youth in grades 7-12.

S.T.A.R.S. is grant-funded by the Robert H. Spitz Foundation and is in its third year of operation at Marywood. The program was started by two Marywood employees: Academic Support Specialist Emily Coleman and S.T.A.R.S. Program Coordinator Jenny Gonzalez.

“We had a conversation with the then provost about doing outreach to the local Latino community, and about how to figure out what some of the needs are for this growing population,” said Gonzalez.

While starting the program, Coleman said she went out to churches in the South Side community where there is a large Latino population. Coleman said she was able to do a need-based assessment with the parents who were parishioners in the churches in order to find out what was missing in the community and if there was a gap they could possibly fill.

Coleman said she found that there were lots of programs for younger kids, but not many for older kids.

“There was a need for a program for secondary age kids, not only with the tutoring but with the mentoring, so that we could expose these kids to as many career and college paths that are out there,” said Coleman. “We had a lot of support from the local Scranton School District from the principals because they also saw the need for the youth to have some outside support from school.”

Gonzalez said her favorite aspect of S.T.A.R.S. is that she gets to empower families through the program and that it is a great opportunity to share resources and create amazing relationships. Gonzalez also said she loves how the program helps young people envision a successful future.

“It doesn’t have to be your four year traditional college,” said Gonzalez. “It could be going into the trades.”

Since 2018, several Marywood students have volunteered with the S.T.A.R.S. program. Coleman said working one on one with the Latino youth has helped Marywood students learn about the Latino community.

Gonzalez said she believes the S.T.A.R.S. program is helping to bring the two communities together.

“S.T.A.R.S has been a really great bridge [between] Marywood and the Latino community,” said Gonzalez.

This semester, the S.T.A.R.S. program is being conducted remotely, but Marywood students can still get involved. Students interested in volunteering can contact [email protected] or [email protected] for more information.

Contact the writer: [email protected]od.edu