Atkinson students reach for the STARS

The transition to university can be a challenge and Atkinson’s Student and Alumni Relations (STARS) unit has held two events recently to help new students ease into social and academic life on campus.

On Jan. 6, STARS held an orientation designed to equip new students with the tools needed to excel in their first year. Students mingled with future classmates and upper-year student peer mentors who provided them with the inside scoop on life at Atkinson. After a morning of sessions and workshops, they were given a campus-wide tour by their assigned peer mentor. The morning ended with an opportunity to meet representatives from York’s Mature Student Association. 

Left: Seher Goderya, front, a fourth-year administrative studies student, participates on the Reaching for the Top panel.

Philip Hollander, director of professional development at Morris Group in Toronto, gave a seminar, "Thriving in the Classroom: Discover How You Learn Best". He emphasized the different ways students learn and how students can benefit from discovering their individual learning styles.

“Orientation was a great way for me to network with peers and to learn more about the Atkinson community,” commented one first-year student. “It’s nice to feel welcome, especially as a mature student.”

On Jan. 23, STARS also held an event titled Reaching for the Top, designed to help first-year scholarship recipients maintain a high academic standard. Students received information about scholarships, awards and bursaries, and learned what’s key to achieving academic success from staff and a panel of students and alumni.

STARS’ year-round initiatives have paid off for panelist Tamara Gordon, a fourth-year management major. Gordon became a paraplegic after a ski accident but her disability has not deterred her from pursuing a dream of becoming a family lawyer.

Right: Management student Tamara Gordon encourages new students to get involved.

“My advice to new students is simple,” said Gordon. “Take advantage of the opportunities STARS provides. Get involved on campus in a positive way, work hard and maintain a consistently high academic standard, have a good rapport with your professors and volunteer as often as possible in the community. For you the sky is the limit.”

Gordon has won more than 35 scholarships and awards from York and external sources. She is also a member of Atkinson’s Team of Enthusiastic Ambassadors (TEAM), a STARS initiative providing students with a chance to improve their communication, presentation and networking skills by representing Atkinson on and off campus.

“STARS exists to help students maximize their learning experience,” said Gordon. “As a first-year student it is easy to feel overwhelmed and intimidated by a new learning environment –I certainly did. I am very grateful for the networking opportunities they provided in helping students make a smooth transition to Atkinson.”  

Since January, STARS has also organized a panel on York’s Summer Study Abroad program and a workshop on project management. It has supported an awareness-raising event about healthy body image and self-esteem organized by the Atkinson Counseling and Supervision Centre.

Upcoming events include a cultural gala year-end semi-formal and a volunteer and advanced project-management workshop. Also coming up is a lecture on storytelling by visiting Professor Chris Searle, who is set to release an anthology of Atkinson students’ stories about education and childhood, titled Cosmopolis, Toronto.

For more information, visit the STARS Web site or contact