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TaShara C. Bailey to Direct First Star Old Dominion University Academy

TaShara C. Bailey has been named director of the First Star Old Dominion University Academy, a collaboration between the University and the city of Norfolk designed to increase high school graduation and post-secondary attendance rates and facilitate youths' transition to adulthood in the Hampton Roads foster care system. ODU, which launched its First Star Academy in the spring, is one of 15 such institutions in the United States and the only one in Virginia.

"I have an interest in advancing opportunities to broaden participation of underrepresented groups in STEM, health science and higher education," Bailey said.

The inaugural cohort of First Star Scholars will begin programming at ODU this fall.

The First Star Old Dominion University Academy is a long-term college readiness program for high school foster youth that includes four immersive residential summers on campus and Saturday monthly sessions during the school year. Specifically, foster youth receive academic support, learn life skills through hands-on experiences, explore careers/majors, build lasting relationships and graduate from high school. Guided by Common Core State Standards, First Star ODU Academy scholars will receive academic support in English, math, science and SAT/ACT preparation.

The First Star organization estimates that there are more than 440,000 foster youth in the United States, and that 28,000 age out of the system every year, unprepared for adulthood.

Bailey comes to ODU from the University of Maryland Baltimore (UMB), where she served as director of STEM curriculum and director of programs for the Continuing Umbrella of Research Experiences (CURE) Scholars Program. That program, which was launched in 2015 at UMB, was established in 1999 by the National Cancer Institute's Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities to support underrepresented students in biomedical research and career development. It mentors and supports sixth-grade students all the way to college entrance. Bailey's responsibilities included collaborating with the program team, community members, school families and partner schools to develop STEM curricula and related materials for student success. She also taught as adjunct faculty in the UMB Graduate School.

Bailey holds a Ph.D. in higher education with a concentration in organizational behavior and management as well as a master's degree in education studies with elementary teacher certification from the University of Michigan. She holds a bachelor of science in agricultural and biosystems engineering with waste management certification from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University.

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