STARs advocate for brighter future

Sarah Rogers

Last year the university’s volunteer peer education program, Students Teaching and Advocating Resilience (STAR), undertook its first year in helping students teach others about aspects of health and wellness.

“Wellness is such an important part of the college experience,” Catherine Champagne said. “It’s important to that information for peers to be involved, to help spread that wellness and health information.”

The Assistant Program Director of Student Wellness said the program was started by members from Housing & Residence Life, Counseling Center, and Recreation, Fitness, and Wellness. “I think we were all just really excited by that idea of students just helping other students. We wanted to give students at USI that opportunity.”

The program addresses different health topics as well as allowing students to develop their own programs and presentations to teach their peers.

“That’s one of the cool things about our program is that we let the students decide what areas of health and wellness they are most interested in and then allow them to develop a program on that particular topic,” Champagne said.

Senior STAR Savannah Tilford said the program was not only a great student leadership opportunity but helps better educate students on topics that may be neglected on campus.

“I’ve definitely made a lot of connections with other students on campus,” the senior English teaching major said. “There’s a lot of information I didn’t know so having that training opportunity really helped me make better decisions for myself.”

Tilford said the program offers extensive training with new students like shadowing events and tabling their first semester before they take on the task of hosting their own program. 

Partnering with Disability Resources last year, Tilford said she “felt that most student disabilities weren’t recognized as they could be, and a lot of students aren’t as educated on how to help students with disability.” She focused her program around this matter, educating students on the ways to identify and assist disabled students, and said she is eager to start working towards this year’s programming.

Staff Counselor Alyssa Haymond said the first year was extremely successful, and the group was very proud of what their students accomplished in their first year. “We are even more excited for the second year to see what they can do,” she said.

“This year it’s new again,” Haymond said. “We have returning STARs, so we have a senior STAR program in track. I would say one of our biggest roles is to get our new track up and running and make sure that goes smoothly and give them a different experience than what they would have had during the first year.”

The program will be having a call for recruits at 5:30 Aug. 30 in UC 2217, giving students a chance to meet with advisors of the program and senior STARS to learn more about the program.

“There are so many different pieces to the puzzle that I think there’s a place for anybody here.  There’s a way to take the skills and experiences gained through this program and apply that to whatever career they are going to,” Haymond said. “I think that’s one of the great things that we market about our program is that regardless of what major you are choosing there’s a place for you in STARs.”