Kent State Student Reaches Sky-High for the Academic S.T.A.R.S
When Jordan Wilkins was a senior in high school, he thought he knew what he wanted after graduation – a career in the United States Air Force. However, his principal envisioned a different path, one where he would soar sky-high, not in a plane, but at a four-year university.
“We talked about the different options,” Mr. Wilkins said. “He helped me apply to Kent State. He visited colleges with me.” After his initial visit to Kent State University, Mr. Wilkins joined Academic S.T.A.R.S., which stands for Students Achieving and Reaching for Success.
The six-week cultural transition and retention program is designed for newly admitted African American, Latinx American, Hispanic, Native American and Multiracial freshman. The program helps prepare students to achieve academic success, enrich their college experience and explore their cultural heritage.
“The program helped me understand the significance of being African American and my history,” Mr. Wilkins said. “It made me remember all the things that had to happen for me to be here today.”
As a freshman, Mr. Wilkins also participated in Kent State’s Connect2Complete, a program designed to provide first-generation students with a connection to resources and networking events to help them complete college. He also worked with Student Support Services on campus, for which he became a tutor.
“I helped first generation students just like me,” says Mr. Wilkins, who is the first among his five siblings to attend college. “We figured it out together. All of the organizations helped me stay on track and on my mission. I never lost sight of why I was at Kent State in the first place.”
Mr. Wilkins graduated in May 2018 from Kent State with a bachelor’s degree in marketing and a minor in Pan African studies. He also had the honor of addressing his Kent State classmates at Karamu Ya Wahitimu, a pre-commencement ceremony for African American, Native American and Latino/Hispanic students. “I am in awe,” Mr. Wilkins says in regards to all of the support he received as he earned his degree at Kent State. “Now, I plan on getting my master’s degree.”
While he applies to graduate schools, Mr. Wilkins is paying it forward as a transition coordinator with a non-profit program for students in Warren, Ohio. He works with high school seniors to help them develop their transition plans and involve them in professional development. He also helps match the students with business partners in Mahoning County.
“The cultural immersion part of S.T.A.R.S. has inspired me to help underrepresented students and to minor in Pan African studies,” Wilkins says. “I have a passion for helping people like me. I see how important it was for me to have someone who cared for me.”