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Let’s Go Black to College

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JaCoby Hurst and fellow senior Brakia Johnson talk with junior Erica Richardson about HBCUs.

JaCoby Hurst and fellow senior Brakia Johnson talk with junior Erica Richardson about HBCUs.

Photo by Ciara Massey

Photo by Ciara Massey

JaCoby Hurst and fellow senior Brakia Johnson talk with junior Erica Richardson about HBCUs.

Ciara Massey, Reporter

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In the United States, there are approximately 5,300 colleges and universities, which makes selecting just one a challenge for many high school students. In order to pick one, it helps to investigate them equally and early. Out of the 5,300 colleges and universities in America, there is something unique about 101 of them. Those 101 colleges happen to be Historically Black Colleges and Universities or as they are affectionately known, “HBCUs”. When attending an HBCU, not only will students experience higher education on a new level, but they also attend a school with a rich history.

During senior JaCoby Hurst’s junior year, he had a pretty good idea of where he wanted to attend college. University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, like many of his friends and peers, was what he had his eyes on. But then, his mom came home with some new information.

“Last year my mom asked me if I wanted to go to a HBCU fair in West Memphis, and I was like ‘Yeah, sure, but I’m not sure what is is.’ But I knew I didn’t have time to go to it. So my mom went instead,” he said. “She ended up finding Tougaloo College, in Jackson [MS]. They dragged her in and talked to her about this [summer] camp. I entered not knowing if I was going to be accepted. I got my acceptance letter a month later. So, I went.”

This was the beginning of Hurst’s exploration of HBCUs. The summer camp at Tougaloo College was a six week STEM camp, where he went and took classes every day, as if he were a college student. Even though he has attended many camps before, this one was different.

“I’ve went to some PWI [Predominantly White Institutions] camps, at Fayetteville and stuff,” Hurst said.  “There, because there are so many people, you’re just a number. At an HBCU, it’s more community based, it’s more like a family. People want to see you succeed.”

One of the many benefits of going to an HBCU is connections. The relationships you make at an HBCU will stay with you for a long time.

The second benefit is the bountiful history. Every HBCU has a story unique to itself. Tougaloo was once a plantation. They still have the slave owner’s house on campus. In the 1960s, students who were protesting for their rights used the college as a safe haven. At Xavier University in LA, one of its famous alumni was a Tuskegee airman while graduates from Spelman and Bennett Colleges contribute to over half of African American women in the nation who earn doctorates in all science fields.

“There’s a lot of rich history,” Hurst expressed. “You just need to go search for it.”

The HBCU college fair where Hurst discovered his information was held in West Memphis, where there are at least two HBCU fairs held every year. There is also one held every year in Little Rock. Students should go and visit if they have the time, to see if an HBCU is the right fit for them.

If you are interested in the program Hurst attended specifically you can click the link here: https://www.tougaloo.edu/academics/programs/summer-science-program for more information.

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