One of the most important components of the Starfish Connection program is to provide a variety of enrichment experiences that gives our students the opportunity to experience the world. With this comes a growing sense of confidence that positively impacts a child’s life!
Our Starfish 2022 Graduates
Being part of a family that continues to learn and grow is important to me. Knowing Sherley and her family, being part of her life – to celebrate her accomplishments, to support her during her disappointments, to discuss her aspirations, and to help her navigate a plan to reach those goals – has built a bond between us that is family. Starfish Connection requires every student in the program to play a musical instrument, and that requirement has changed Sherley’s life. She and I have attended many violin lessons, practices, and performances together. I enjoy listening to her play and hearing how her musical talent has developed, but she will tell you, if not for Starfish, she would never have realized her love of music and playing the violin. Sherley was awarded second place in her strings division at the Suzanne Culley Music Festival, a formal competition for music. Meeting Sherley and becoming part of her life has been a gift to me. Sherley created a Stamford Hospital PSA to encourage students to get vaccinated against COVID last year.
As a recent graduate of Westhill High School, Sherley will be pursuing her interests in healthcare attending University of Saint Joseph this fall with several scholarships.
Sherley Renodo with Isabel Katz, Mentor
I first met Nyshawn in September 2014 as a quiet but eager to learn fifth grader who was identified by Starfish as a good student who with a little guidance could blossom. What an understatement! During the past eight years, Nyshawn has participated in numerous Starfish sponsored activities and field trips that along with a very supportive family has contributed to his personal growth. Nyshawn was a competitor both in and out of the classroom. His passion for learning produced a strong academic track record where math and business were his favorite subjects. His competitive spirit was evident in his lacrosse, football, and weightlifting participation while attending Stamford High School. His activities outside of the classroom included spending quality time with family and, together, we enjoyed shooting pool, foosball, wooden mechanical puzzles, and a good burger. It has been a real treat watching him develop into a fine young man full of energy, warmth, and a pleasing personality with a bright future.
Nyshawn will be attending UConn/Storrs in the fall to pursue a degree in either Business or Engineering.
Nyshawn Johnson with Cliff Wells, Mentor
Naimah and I both agree that the last ten years have flown by. Perhaps because the Starfish team filled those years with exciting and memorable programs and activities. Naimah remembers boarding the city’s sailboat for a cruise around the shore examining fish and crustaceans. I enjoyed the trip to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. These activities plus our shopping trips, restaurant experiences, movies and most importantly our mutual love of music, united us – an unbreakable friendship. During the years I watched Naimah grow with confidence. Always a strong student, I urged her to advocate for herself with her teachers as she navigated the ups and downs of academic and extracurricular activities. It is with great pride she has settled on a career in Finance. Her stellar grades and recommendations from her teachers won her acceptance into the prestigious three-year Academy of Finance program at Westhill.
This fall Naimah will continue her interest in the field of Finance at UConn/Stamford. She has been accepted into the Financial Honors program and awarded a full scholarship.
Naimah Kaiser with Meg Mooar, Mentor
I first met Jairon in 2012 when he was a rising third grader joining the Starfish program. That first day when I picked him up for an outing, he had that deer in the headlights look about him and I only recently learned that he thought he was leaving his family and coming to live with me. That thought was soon thereafter dispelled when he was returned home safely after that afternoon. Over the next 10 years I have seen Jairon grow into a mature, talented, determined young man. He has a love for his family first, followed by a passion to help others and a curiosity in the environment. Jairon is the second oldest of four children in his family and has always been supportive to his siblings. Recently at his sister’s Quinceañera, he participated in several dance routines. Jairon choreographed all the dances. Jairon started volunteer work in eighth grade for the social service agency Person to Person. For three years during high school, he volunteered at SoundWaters, teaching classes for children from schools in Fairfield County and conducting laboratory tests on the environment near Long Island Sound. During his junior year, Jairon landed his first job for the Mill River Park Collaborative, researching the park’s data. Currently he is working at SoundWaters as a camp counselor and teaching everything from Scratch to Java at the Happy Code Club, a coding camp for children and hoping to pursue a degree in Environmental Sciences.
Jairon will be attending Connecticut College who awarded him their Shain Scholarship.
Jairon Herrera with Fred Rossetti, Mentor
The mission of Starfish Connection is to address Stamford’s academic achievement gap by providing long-term mentoring, after-school and summer enrichment programs, and educational support to promising students from the city’s underserved families. We pair a mentor with a student, one-on-one to provide these resources.
The Starfish Connection is a 501c3 corporation. We rely on generous contributions like yours to fulfill our mission. Your donation will be used solely to support after school and summer enrichment activities for these academically talented Stamford youth. If you would like to make a tax-deductable donation to the Starfish Connection, please do so on our donation page!
Our Founder and Inspiration
The Starfish Connection website is dedicated to the memory of our cofounder, Judith Martin. Judy and her husband David had a dream of enriching and changing the lives of promising Stamford young people.