FSU Foundation

One-on-One Mentoring Helps High School Students Hit Their SSTRIDE

Dr Shelly and students smiling

The Florida State University College of Medicine announced it is embarking on a partnership dedicated to giving Sarasota County students the resources and mentorship needed to achieve their dreams of pursuing a career in the medical field.

The Pre-Med Mentoring and Academic Enrichment Program, an expansion of the college’s Science Students Together Reaching Instructional Diversity and Excellence outreach initiative—or SSTRIDE—began at Booker High School in Sarasota in January to connect rural, minority and underserved students interested in the health care profession with support services and academic assistance to develop a sense of responsibility, focus and motivation essential to their success.

“Through SSTRIDE, we have been able to assist many local Sarasota students in gaining exposure to medical and health-related fields, interacting with premedical and medical student mentors, participate in lots of hands-on activities during the in-school SSTRIDE advanced science class and engage with a diversity of guest speakers,” Thesla Berne-Anderson, M.S., SSTRIDE founder and director of college and pre-college outreach at the FSU College of Medicine, shared.

Students recruited from Booker High School will have the opportunity to be paired with both Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) and Florida State University (FSU) students of similar backgrounds to encourage academic avenues beyond high school and into higher education. The project was designed to build relationships that motivate young scholars by receiving feedback and instruction in subjects such as biology, chemistry, precalculus and algebra, promoting positive attitudes, learning leadership and personal development skills, guiding college admission processes and more.

Berne-Anderson added, “This new initiative is a ‘first-of-its-kind’ Virtual Premedical Mentoring and Academic Enrichment program designed to extend outreach efforts to a more diverse body of students in the community, provide them with one-on-one mentoring from undergraduate and graduate students, individualized assistance in all academic areas, exposure to a diversity of health professional guest speakers, virtual dissections, science and health-related demonstrations and a focus on enhancing college and career readiness skills.”

With 40 diverse Booker High students participating, the inaugural year of the program would not have been possible without Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation’s support. Through academic motivation, exposure to scholarship information and first-hand experiences of college life, Barancik Foundation’s grant will continue to help SSTRIDE shed light on the state’s minority achievement gap in science, math and other health care professions and afford its initiatives the resources necessary to assist students directly.

“The FSU College of Medicine continuously works to tackle the disparities found in Florida’s health care workforce, and we hope to create a model where all students have equal access to academic excellence,” Nicole Bentze, D.O., FAAFP, dean of the Sarasota Regional Campus, expressed. “It’s great to have Barancik Foundation champion these students and our mission.”

“I am grateful for the unique partnership between the FSU College of Medicine, Barancik Foundation and Booker High School,” Dr. Rachel Shelley, principal of Booker High School, shared. “SSTRIDE is changing the trajectory of student lives. Without question, this partnership will lead to more students of color entering a STEM, medical or health care field.”

Established in 1994, SSTRIDE aims to help students who have traditionally been underrepresented in medicine and the STEM fields. Learn more about SSTRIDE and how to support the College of Medicine online.


About Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation

The Charles and Margery Barancik family has long believed in the power of philanthropy to shape our world and enrich the lives of all people. It was the expression of this belief that led them in 2014 to establish Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation—a private, family foundation located in Sarasota, Florida. Barancik Foundation creates initiatives and awards grants in Sarasota and beyond in the areas of education, humanitarian causes, arts and culture, the environment and medical research. Visit BarancikFoundation.org to learn more.