What’s Good In South Jersey? First Star and Stockton Unite – With Isaiah Showell

By: Isaiah S. Showell, Follow South Jersey Multimedia Journalist/’What’s Good’ Host

First Star Students at Stockton Marine Field Station. Photo credit: Isaiah Showell.

GALLOWAY, N.J. — Stockton University in 2022 had approximately 1,550 new students coming for fall semester according to their website, and in June of this year Stockton made room for 11 new students, in high school and they belong to First Star Academy.

First Star Academy, an organization that provides high school aged foster children with tools and support to transition to self-sufficiency, made Stockton University their home for two weeks this summer. It’s What’s Good in South Jersey — with Isaiah Showell.

First Star students called Stockton home for two weeks because not only did they move into the dorms, but they also took classes on campus and ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner on campus, too. Since 2014 First Star Academy has been in New Jersey working with foster youth preparing them for college but stopped being on a college campus due to the pandemic; but the time has come to get the ball rolling again and Stockton University is ground zero for First Star to begin again.

First Star is an organization with a mission to provide high school youth in foster care with the opportunities, tools, and support to successfully transition to self-sufficiency through higher education or other viable pathways. The students may have an idea of what they want to pursue for a career, and First Star is interested in helping them reach their career goals.

Miricle Mendez is only 16 years old and knows he wants to work on filming television shows. “I want to be more familiar with how to work a camera,” said Mendez. Broadcast Journalism Media class is just one of four classes in the schedule of the First Star students and luckily it involves camera work that Mendez became very hands on about.

First Star Students working on STEM projects at Stockton University. Photo credit: Isaiah Showell.

Mathematics along with English and art class were a part of the students’ daily schedule with field trips like a trip to see Aladdin on Broadway was inserted on the weekends allowing a bit of a break from academics.

While walking the grounds of Stockton and keeping their schedules, students are accompanied by Success Coaches. A Success Coach is a young adult who has either been to college, is currently in college, or is a professional in their work field that is assigned to a First Star student to help them navigate their schedules and serve as a helpful guide.

Justin Diaz is one of the Success Coaches and has served in the position for three years because of his passion to help youth be successful. “It’s a good cause, the youth don’t have anyone to look up to and I’ve got to be that person,” said Diaz. Ten Success Coaches were on duty walking with students making sure they get to class on time and mentoring them.

First Star is focused on preparing students to be successful adults and also on establishing everlasting bonds between the students and Success Coaches, ultimately building a community that supports each other while moving through life. First Star Academy is definitely What’s Good in South Jersey this week!

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