In the new-age of video-communication software such as Zoom and Google Hangout, many have relied on them to host seminars online to promote social distancing. The first ever Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) College Fair was hosted via YouTube and Facebook Live. The event started at 12:00 pm (EST) and featured a variety of HBCUs such Clark Atlanta, Spelman College, North Carolina Central University and Alcorn State University.
The webinar began with a short promotional video starring Writer and Performer, Sydney Morgan. The video detailed Morgan’s experience with her first solo performance show. Another video showed how different families are experiencing their children’s college journey and how they support one another. Several more sponsors and scholarship videos played for another few minutes. The last video detailed how African-Americans came from being slaves, to being beaten during the Civil Rights Era, to educating thousands of young black individuals at HBCUs.
About 12 minutes into the event, Session One began with Meeting the Recruiters, hosted by Yasmine Whitehurst, who is currently a senior at Alabama State University. The very first school to represent themselves was Alcorn State University. With great enthusiasm, Lamar Scott, an Admissions Recruiter and Counselor to students, briefly explained Alcorn’s background and admissions requirements. He went on to discuss that Alcorn is one of the top-ten most affordable and credible schools in the United States and what it takes to be admitted to the University such at ACT and GPA requirements.
Scott was asked several questions about Alcorn, with the first one being, “How does being in the Deep South affect students who attend Alcorn?” Scott responded, “We have the opportunity to reach and touch our students in multiple ways as it relates to being so far away from what so many would call ‘civilization’ because of our rural location.” Other schools that were featured during this section were Bennett College, Shaw University and Coppin State University. Each recruiter had a chance to answer questions about their university asked by viewers.
Session Two entitled “Meet The Graduates” was hosted by Kofi Dadson and this session was mainly focused on graduates and current students at HBCUs. Lyrica Pressly (2015 Hampton University graduate), Jalen Baker (2015 graduate of North Carolina Central University), Taylor Polidore (2015 graduate of Clark-Atlanta), Angelica and Antonia Izogu (Spelman ℅ 2021), were all featured in this session. Since all of the panelists have attended HBCUs, they explained why they chose an HBCU and what they have gained since graduating from one. A question that was asked by one of the viewers was, “What separates HBCUs from other universities (Predominately White Institutions)?” Polidore stated that, “Education is education…now when it comes to education at an HBCU you will get more information about us, as black people, but you’re going to get a good education at all of the HBCUs.” Pressley added that as she lived in a predominantly white area growing up and did not experience black culture until she attended an HBCU.
Toward of the end of the session, each panelist gave a few last words. Pressley gave a heart-felt message about how someone tried to dissuade her from attending an HBCU by stating, “They (HBCU) couldn’t prepare you for the real world.” She stated, “I’m so glad that I didn’t listen to that because the biggest lesson I learned coming out of Hampton is that HBCU’s prepare you to be that one black person in the room and how to make sure your voice is heard and how to make sure to stand up tall in what you believe in.” Each panelist passionately expressed why the HBCU network is so strong. Baker shared how to learn and grow from this journey. He stated, “You must treat this experience as a training ground for when you are ready to go out into the world.”
This event can be very impactful for those who wish to attend an HBCU or even for those who wish to look more into HBCU life. This event gave great insight and the advice given should be used for a student’s successful college journey. If you missed the two-hour live event it can still be viewed on the HBCU Virtual College Fair’s YouTube page.