The Stellify Project
1. Enriching student experience
The aim of ‘The Stellify Project’ is to build the leadership skills of university students by acting as mentors/role models for underprivileged high-school aged youth, motivating them to strive towards attending university. This will not only enable students to have fun and make new friends with common interests, but also develop their personal and intellectual lives through volunteering and making a difference in the community.
2. Engagement between diverse student groups
The University of Sydney has a highly underrepresented group of students residing in low SES areas or coming from a disadvantaged background, many of whom struggle to find a group of peers they feel welcome with when transitioning to university. Considering ‘The Stellify Project’ aims to gather a group of volunteers dedicated towards mentoring youth from disadvantaged backgrounds, this is a fantastic opportunity for university students of similar backgrounds to advocate, educate others and showcase leadership skills without an associated stigma. Students who have expressed interest in becoming regular members come from a wide range of backgrounds which may include but are not limited to migrant, refugee, culturally diverse and low SES backgrounds. Due to the fact that this club will be open to all, this also enables students who don’t face similar barriers to increase their personal understanding of the importance of equity and challenge their assumptions and preconceived notions of disadvantage.
3. Opportunities for professional development/leadership experience: Volunteering enables members to make a positive difference in the community and broaden connections with different communities and charity organisations in the Sydney area. Guiding and providing advice to youth involves having students reflect on themselves and their own experiences, strengthening leadership skills such as empathy, communication, active listening and strategic thinking. Often, gaining leadership experience can be intimidating for university students but by working with a welcoming, socially inclusive society, this can eliminate the burden. Another common barrier to gaining leadership experience is the feeling many students face that they must have prior experiences or achievements which qualify them to mentor others. However, The Stellify Project is open to all who wish to join and aims to provide leadership training to those who do.
4. Foster an active campus community
The Stellify Project aims to empower students by making them realise their potential to inspire positive change in themselves and others. All members will be able to choose which events they wish to engage in based on what they are interested in and fits with their schedules. The range of potential activities involves mentoring in both a small and large group setting, enabling student agency over how they wish to engage. Additionally, the society will be volunteer led so all members have the opportunity to propose creative ideas for initiatives which they may have always wanted to do but have not had the chance to implement. Certain events will also be open to the wider student community on campus, such as fundraisers, educational events or leadership conferences.
5. Support university faculties/schools/departments/colleges:
The Stellify Project will enable students from all faculties to build their leadership and teamwork skills, a valuable asset for all university graduates. Additionally, through a variety of on-campus leadership training events, seminars and/or educational programs for mentors, this enables opportunities for engagement with various university faculties for events. For activities which engage with high school aged youth, engaging with welcoming and personable role models/ mentors showcases the university as a welcoming place for potential undergraduates from low SES areas, beneficial for the university in the long term.
What kinds of activities do you expect your club to be running and how will they be managed? • Leadership events for student mentors at university: This can include conferences, speaker events, networking events with relevant groups and leadership/teamwork training activities.
• High school visits, where mentors lead workshops on relevant topics and provide guidance/ advice through planned educational programs
• ‘Best Buddy’ programs where mentors and mentees are partnered up to give personalised, informal advice motivating youth to strive towards overcoming obstacles, challenging themselves, achieving goals and attending university.
• Social events for mentors to bond/make friends (preferably at university venues such as Courtyard)
• Enabling mentors to judge public speaking, debating or creativity related competitions
• In person fundraisers, such as bake sales or sausage sizzles
• Hosting online seminars from university for high school students. Topics may include resume writing, goal setting, exam preparation, maintaining friendships, etc.
• Hosting free tutoring sessions for disadvantaged students
• Short courses for mentors eg. Mental health first aid