Schoolcraft College offers students many avenues to enrich themselves beyond the classroom. One such initiative is the STARS DEI Leadership Program, which supports students’ academic, professional and personal development with an important diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) element.

STARS stands for Scholars Taking Off Academically & Rising to Success and began in 2019-20. The DEI component benefits from the expertise of Marina Shoemaker, who is the Director of Global Diversity and Inclusion Strategies for General Motors. She previously held various executive roles at GM, including National Director, Dealer Development and National Director, Women’s Retail Network.

“It’s important that students help understand and engage in the DEI conversation,” Shoemaker said. “This program is designed to start that conversation through trained DEI Student Scholars.”

STARS DEI seeks to connect students to peers, resources, and opportunities to foster a sense of belonging and to enhance their overall college experience. This program also prepares students as professionals entering into a global and diverse workplace. 

The four pillars of the program include:

  • Leadership
  • Academic Success
  • Service Learning
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
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Students can get involved as a mentor, mentee or as a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion Scholar.

The program has paid immediate dividends. One DEI Scholar, for example, used information gained from a train-the-trainer workshop on Generational Diversity to co-facilitate a workshop for the mentors and mentees in the program. 

She also used that knowledge and information to create a STEAMz* presentation in which she received a monetary award for participation.  

Building and learning

The STARS DEI Leadership Program, which supports students’ academic, professional and personal development with an important diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) element, is a relatively new initiative at Schoolcraft College. STARS stands for Scholars Taking Off Academically & Rising to Success. Ursulla McWhorter is the dedicated academic success coach for the program.

In addition to Shoemaker’s expertise, the STARS DEI Leadership Program benefits from the presence of Ursulla McWhorter, lead program coordinator and dedicated academic success coach for the program. 

“Even in the midst of a pandemic we were able to provide more than 20 workshops and events that addressed the four key pillars of the program (academics, leadership, service learning and DEI) as well as allow the students to work as a team, build relationships and learn from each other,” McWhorter said. 

McWhorter’s varied and impressive professional background prior joining Schoolcraft College in 2020 includes experience in leadership development and supporting diversity programs, such as serving as a volunteer leadership coach for Braven.org, a non-profit organization that helps prepare college students for their first career opportunities after college. 

“The students are the reason this is such a great program, and it’s been amazing to see their growth and development over the past year,” McWhorter said. “Many were in their first year of college and took on leadership roles, leading a cohort of mentees and leading and facilitating some of the STARS DEI events.”

The students have embraced the opportunity. Here are a few comments from the participants:

“I am grateful to be a part of the STARS DEI Program at Schoolcraft College. I have loved the opportunity to embrace diversity with my peers while celebrating each of our unique cultures and backgrounds.” 

“The STARS DEI Program has allowed me to evaluate myself and reflect on ways I can support myself and others around me.”

“This program has paved the way for a great career and great success in my life!”

The DEI Scholars 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.

In addition to McWhorter, the program is led by Dr. Carmen Wilson, Academic Success Coach; and Jennie Rokakis, Learning Support Services Assistant.  

The STARS DEI program looks to continue its success in the Fall 2021 semester. Goals include providing in-person events and workshops as well as dramatically increasing the number of students.

“The STARS DEI program provides experiences and exposure to resources that help students with their academic journey as well as preparation for future leadership roles in their professional careers,” McWhorter said.

For more information about STARS DEI, please email [email protected] or call 734-462-7672.

*STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math. The “z” refers to Generation Z, those born between 1995 and 2010. The current traditional college-age student (18-22) is a part of Gen Z.

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