What I Would Have Missed Had I Not Attended an HBCU
Attending college can be a life changing experience. Good colleges facilitate personal and professional discovery and provide guidance that pays off over the course of a lifetime.
And each year, nearly 2 million students in the United States earn bachelor’s degrees from one of the 4,000 U.S. colleges and universities, each of them eager to enter the workforce. Of that group, approximately 50,000 (2.5%) will earn a degree from one of the 106 Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the US.
This select group will join the ranks of the HBCU alumni who’ve go on to have a disproportionately large and positive impact on American and global culture.
How have HBCUs uniquely prepared its graduates to hit the ground running after graduation? What makes the HBCU experience exceptional?
Loronta Madison, a graduating senior at Hampton University in Virginia said,
“Hampton has provided me with memories and lessons that I will cherish for a lifetime. Hampton University is definitely a humbling experience. Two adages I hold near and dear to myself are "Things Turn Out Best For Those Who Make The Best Of The Way “Things Turn Out” and “Closed Mouths Don't Get Fed.”
The first phrase is one I learned via the band program and that basically looks at a person's mindset and perspective when facing adversity. You can either complain our you can make the best out of any situation.”
Band life provides the backdrop for much of student life on HBCU campuses. Balancing his time between band and classwork meant Loronta also learned the value in asking for help.
“And the second adage, closed mouths don't get feed, helped a lot is because pride is one of the 7 deadly sins for a reason. If you are too proud to admit you need help or do not understand something, how can you expect to advance and prosper.”
Kayla Johnson is a band member from Morgan State in Baltimore, MD. Kayla pointed out how competition in an HBCU environment is different than what you might find in traditional college rivalries. HBCU competition helps fuel a sense of community and pride that extends beyond a single school or experience.
“When people hear HBCU, they mostly associate them with being notable for party schools, but actually it's the competitive spirit that drives all HBCUs. The competitive spirit of HBCUs create a sense of community and family within every HBCU. There is so much energy and hype when schools go head to head and the students and alumni definitely represent! Especially when it comes to rivalries. It's the competitiveness that really brings out a sense of pride like never before.”
Cameron Hyman, is a senior at Morehouse in Atlanta, Ga. He talked about the ways his HBCU experience cemented his identity.
“My journey through an HBCU was indicative of the black experience. I work twice as hard, to get half as far and I'd still be willing to work three times harder. Being a single dad, a member of Honda Campus All-Star Challenge, the President of a non profit, a member the Semper Fi Society of Atlanta and in NROTC could have derailed me. But the determination Mother Morehouse instilled, alongside the drive to "Do it for my daughter" meant that I not only couldn't fail, but wouldn't fail.”
Cameron talked about the power of individual grit while recognizing the role his community at Morehouse played.
“For prospective students, if you want to feel at home, feel challenged yet supported and be light years ahead of your peers, pick an HBCU. If you want to do it with the class, intelligence and style of a 21st century trendsetter, there's only one place for that...The House.”
The HBCU experience starts as soon as you hit campus and its lessons extend far beyond.