The Redlands Northside Impact Committee has recognized SBVC’s STAR program for a 2019 Educational Award and named President Diana Z. Rodriguez “Latina of the Year” at its annual leadership and scholarship awards ceremony.

 SBVC’s STAR (Success Through Achievement & Retention) program was recognized for its impact on the well-being of hundreds of students and their families within the local community. A special federally-funded program designed to enhance student support services for first-generation, low-income students, STAR enrolls approximately 200 SBVC students every year.

Through the program, there is a strong circle of familiarity: counselors get to know the students, offering tools and resources for their day to day challenges. Participating students have graduated and transferred to colleges all across the country, including UCLA, California State University Long Beach, Cal Baptist and the University of Alaska. They have gone on to pursue careers in a variety of fields, including social work, medicine, business and theatre arts. Most of the students served are either first-generation college goers, meaning neither parent has a bachelor’s degree, or low income or have a physical or learning disability.

For all students, the main objective is to provide services that keep them encouraged through graduation, and the opportunity to transfer on to a four-year university for their bachelor’s degree. Deanne Rabon, the program’s coordinator, said that the majority of STAR students maintain positive academic standing, persisting, continuing and finishing their programs.

In 2018, SBVC students and employees celebrated the STAR program’s 25th anniversary since first launching at the college. The campus received its first round of funding in 1993, and has been going strong ever since with a variety of no-cost services, tutoring, and counseling.

According to Rabon, the most important aspect of the program is its inspirational model. STAR staff want students to know they can dream big on their goals, and feel comfortable stepping onto any higher education campus. The program regularly hosts field trips to four-year universities so that students can experience other campuses, and equip them to make decisions on transfer opportunities. Recent visits included Arizona State University at Lake Havasu City, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and UC San Diego, among several other campuses.

All students in the program are considered nontraditional. They are returning to school, getting re-acclimated, and getting a degree for the first time. “We have from 18 years to the oldest, who is in their 70s, we try to help a broad spectrum of students on campus and be that support system,” Rabon said. “We try to be that safe haven, that port in the storm.”

As the Northside Impact Committee’s “Latina of the Year,” President Rodriguez was recognized for her contributions to the betterment of the local community, as well as serving as a role model for future generations of leaders. A first-generation community college graduate, President Rodriguez’s background reflects the sociocultural experiences of many of the students SBVC serves.