The beginning of summer always marks a bittersweet time as we bid farewell to the graduating seniors in our STAR (Students Tackle Abusive Relationships) auxiliary at Genesis. These high school students – many of whom joined STAR during their freshman year – have dedicated countless hours to volunteer with the kids at our shelter, organize fundraisers for Genesis, learn all about teen dating violence and rally their friends to pay attention to the issue. We have seen their eyes open wide and hearts stirred to action during those important, formative years.
Now, those graduating seniors rush off to college, to the military, to new jobs all across the country. They promise to keep in touch and not forget about us. Our collective hope is that we have instilled knowledge in the students during their tenure in STAR, so they go on to have healthy relationships and know exactly how to help a friend in need.
Throughout the last six years, I have had the joy of working alongside our STAR members and witnessing their journey into young adulthood. Their passion for ending domestic violence is palpable. And while they still can’t convince me to join them on TikTok – our STAR alumni kept their promise and have stayed in touch. As they head into summer break, I decided to check in with two of them, now a rising college sophomore and senior, and hear what they may have carried from their STAR experience into their undergraduate years.
We have missed you all so much! How has your past experience as a STAR board member impacted your time in college?
In college, I have applied everything I’ve learned at STAR to teach my peers on campus. I joined an organization called Not On My Campus where I get to teach students about sexual assault and dating violence. I learned everything I know about these topics because of STAR and I am so grateful I can continue to educate others in college.
STAR taught me so many things. I learned what a healthy and unhealthy relationship looks like. Learning the rights women have and how to establish boundaries was amazing.
Have you witnessed any unhealthy relationship behaviors in college? Has anything surprised you?
I personally have not, but I have seen many stories of women speaking out about their own experiences. I was not surprised that these things were happening, but I was surprised to see women speaking out against it and sharing their stories. It’s really impactful to see that kind of conversation and change.
Yes, I have. It’s shocking to me what people think is and isn’t ok in relationships.
Do you think college students have a good pulse on what domestic violence is and where to seek help if needed? Have you had any conversations with friends about this?
I believe that since the conversation about domestic violence and sexual assault is becoming more open college students do have a better pulse on what it is and how to seek help. I talk about this with my friends a lot and was able to talk to my sorority chapter about it. Talking about these hard conversations is the first step to raising awareness and making change.
I do not at all. I think domestic violence awareness training needs to be implemented in the freshmen curriculum. There is not enough information or resources on college campuses.
What else would you like to share?
STAR has changed my life and I am so grateful for what I have learned and how I can share the information and apply it in my own life outside of Genesis.
I love STAR! I am so thankful for STAR for so many things, and it was definitely the most impactful thing I’ve ever been a part of.
If you know a high school student who is interested in joining STAR, please visit our website. Membership applications for the 2021-2022 school year are now open. Please contact Elizabeth Corley, Director of Community Engagement, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 214.389.7714 with any questions.