Dr. Starke leaning on "Thagard" sign

Dr. Tadarrayl Starke: The Man Behind C.A.R.E

The Thagard building, as many may know, is home to all Center for Academic Retention and Enhancement (CARE) students.  But do you know who’s the person behind the program?  I had the opportunity to sit down with CARE’s very own Dr. Tadarrayl Starke to get a behind the scenes look on the impact of this program.

Her Campus (HC): Hi! For starters, how did you wind up at CARE?

Tadarrayl Starke (TS): Hello! Well, I was working at a local community college, Tallahassee Community College, where I was a director assisting middle and high school students to help get into college.  Once they made it to college I helped navigate their transition.  I saw the position of the Associate Director of CARE open working with the academic support units, and six months later I was promoted to Director.

HC: What does CARE mean to you?

TS: CARE really means opportunities.  What we do, when you look at our pre-collegiate division, we give students the opportunity to choose where they go to college.  We expose them to a variety of post-secondary experiences, through our Upward Bound program, that they otherwise would not get.  Our college division is no different.  It’s about access.  We create a system where students are able to get into Florida State, regardless of the lack of resources they were provided before they got here.  The students being first-generation, are trailblazing the legacy of a college education for their families.  And with that, they need as much support as they can get, which is exactly what CARE is here for.

HC: What is your favorite part about your job?

TS: The students.  This job is such a passionate purpose for me, and doing it does not burden me.  I know I do this for the students.  It gives me purpose, especially because when I see you guys, I see myself.  I understand the resilience and drive you guys have, so when I see you all push through it is the most rewarding thing.  Of course, graduation is the best part because that is the goal.  I love what I do, and the constant success CARE students radiate, is a beautiful thing to be part of, and what continues to drive me back here.

HC: What would you say are some of your most pressing responsibilities as Director?

TS: Getting students to be successful. CARE becomes that resource to help students get to where they need to go.  Everything else falls under it, whether it is managing the budget, grant writing or reporting.  The students are the center of our wheel and it’s my job to make sure it keeps spinning.

HC: What does a typical day look like for you?

TS: I usually wake up around 5 a.m. when my family is asleep, which gives me some peace.  In that time I clear some emails from the day before, and I also do any administrative work I need to do.  I get into the office at 7:30 a.m. on most days, and a lot of it is paperwork, student meetings and budget reports.  It really depends on the season, this season is admissions time so it’s been busier than usual.  However, I like to get out of my office and walk around the CARE lab to see students in their element and connect with them on a level that isn’t strictly advising.

Dr. Starke's family in front of Westcott building

HC: What are your expectations of CARE students?

TS: I expect nothing but greatness.  I want students to find their voice.  The students have what it takes to succeed, and if CARE doesn’t have it, the university will.  There is no reason to not be successful.  And of course, I brag because our students are represented in so many positions on campus like Homecoming, SGA and fraternity and sorority life.  In all positions of leadership CARE students are represented, and at the highest levels too. Ultimately my expectation is that you take over campus.  You don’t just be a student here, but truly become a part of the experience at Florida State University. 

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