Atkinson students and alumni navigate by the STARS

A new unit has been created to heighten the sense of community within the Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies. The new Student & Alumni Relations Unit (STARS) is an innovative new addition to Atkinson aimed at enhancing the student and alumni experience. “The STARS Unit represents months of consultations, research and planning and is based on three pillars: community development, community involvement and community celebration,” noted Martha Rogers, Atkinson’s associate dean (students).

Right: Martha Rogers

As part of its mandate, the inaugural year of the STARS Unit will focus on several new and expanded programs. In addition to a new Web site, STARS has developed three mentorship programs including a student ambassador team, an electronic newsletter for students and a community development fund.

“The STARS team is very excited to be working together with Atkinson students and alumni to find meaningful ways to connect these important communities,” explained STARS director Carole Umaña. “Through innovative programming and initiatives, the STARS unit will help to enhance both the student experience and alumni involvement at Atkinson. STARS is all about building, strengthening and celebrating the Atkinson community.”

Right: From left to right, STARS director Carole Umaña; Franz Branschat, faculty liaison assistant; Napur Khandelwal, student ambassador program assistant (work-study); special projects manager Shirley Gossack; Lucy Oliviera, receptionist; and Mentorship Program assistant Kristen Lowitt (work-study)

The new STARS Web site launches today, and will serve as a resource and community building hub, helping to connect Atkinson students with each other, and with alumni. “The Web site is particularly effective for keeping students and alumni aware of activities at Atkinson which they might otherwise miss,” said Umaña. She noted that it has a section highlighting upcoming events, a link-section to help students connect with the many student clubs at Atkinson, and information on mentorship and other important opportunities.

One of STARS’ first programs has already been launched at this year’s Orientation Welcome Week for first-year students. Students Helping Atkinson Rookies Excel (SHARE) links new Atkinson students to upper-year students with a goal of helping make the transition to university life easier for new frosh. Each upper-year student volunteer acts as an informal mentor to several new students. Another mentorship program links Atkinson alumni to third- and fourth-year students to help them plan their initial career moves while they’re still in school. “Through STARS mentorship programs we are fostering a new approach to learning that goes beyond the classroom and that really helps to bridge academic studies and career development,” explained Rogers.

Another innovative STARS initiative is Atkinson’s Team of Enthusiastic Atkinson Ambassadors (TEAM) program. TEAM provides students with the opportunity to enhance their communication, presentation and networking skills while meeting interesting and well-connected people by representing Atkinson at special events, receptions, conferences and campus tours for special guests. TEAM members also attend exciting events to share and announce important Atkinson news and their role also includes classroom liaison.

STARS has also created a new Community Development Fund. Through the fund, Atkinson students, clubs, associations and alumni can apply for funding of up to $500 to support a variety of initiatives including academic, social and cultural events; community celebrations; sports activities and other projects that support or enhance student life at Atkinson.

For more information e-mail, or call ext. 33572.

This article was submitted to YFile by Timothy Hudson, communications manager, Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies.