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What Students Are Saying about s.t.a.r.t.

November 11, 2011

Alix Hennen,
DePaul University (Former South Student):

“s.t.a.r.t. is an organization that began at South High School when I was a senior. I credit this group for giving me a skill that I value highly: the ability to have open dialect about racial relationships.  s.t.a.r.t. provided an outlet for me to start(!) thinking critically about social structure based on race, ethnicity and culture. As a college sophomore studying Community Psychology at DePaul University in Chicago I can say that s.t.a.r.t. truly aided me in terms of being able to express my views and always think with an open heart.”

Kiah Zellner-Smith, Macalester College (Former South Student): 

“s.t.a.r.t. was one of the first times throughout my schooling that I was asked to critically evaluate racial, cultural and ethnic relations pertinent to my life, and to internalize my own ideas, implicit or explicit, on those topics. The opportunity to have an outlet at school to discuss race and ethnicity was
imperative to my growth and understanding of my peers, broader cultural groups, and as a biracial woman, an understanding of myself. I am currently a sophomore at Macalester College leaning towards an American Studies Major and this may not be the case if I had not participated in s.t.a.r.t.

Despite the range of courses that high schools today offer, to find an environment where race discourse is encouraged is rare. I am so grateful to have had this level of conversation in a comforting setting where ideas, mistakes and opinions were always welcome. Kate was a wonderful leader and  continues to be for other students who have come after us. As she guided us through readings, secured us a spot on a radio show, took us to plays, and welcomed us for dinner at her home, she remained an engaging and supportive mentor while also allowing us the opportunity to teach her through each of our unique experiences.

s.t.a.r.t. is a program with beautiful and powerful intentions, and I will always be a supporter of it.  As I continue to learn in new settings and with new people, I will not forget that my first racial dialogue began with 7 other students, on the floor, during lunchtime.”

Felicia Johnson, Macalester College (Former South Student):

“When I was younger, speaking about race made me feel uncomfortable and I often pretended that race wasn’t an issue. The truth is, in the back of my mind, I knew that it was. Many have questioned my racial identity in the past and s.t.a.r.t. gave me the confidence to express my emotions about it for the first time.  s.t.a.r.t. acquainted me with encouraging and respectful peers, and together, we had the strength to speak about race, a highly controversial issue, on the radio. I am now in my sophomore year of college debating, discussing, reading, and writing about racial equity on a
daily basis. As of now, I intend to be an American Studies major working towards becoming a civil rights lawyer/activist.  s.t.a.r.t. gave me the push that I needed to become comfortable discussing race, culture, and ethnicity in my biracial skin.”

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