HBCU tour highlights educational opportunities

By Nijzel Dotson, Advocate Staff

Eleven Contra Costa College students will get the opportunity of a lifetime this semester as they go on a tour of six Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

For the third year in a row, CCC Transfer Coordinator Andrea Phillips has put together a tour with the intention of “giving students of color the chance to look at schools outside of California and see what their options are.”

“I want students to understand the impact that these type of trips can have on them,” Phillips said.

The schools on the itinerary are Howard University, Morgan State, Bowie State, Hampton University, Norfolk State and Lincoln University (Pennsylvania).

Benefits of the trip include on-the-spot admissions, STEM opportunities, a window into Greek Life, student panels and a visit to the African-American History Museum in Washington D.C.

The all-expenses paid trip will take place March 31 through April 7 when CCC students will be out of classes for spring break.

The tour is being funded by the African-American Staff Association, West Contra Costa Unified School District, Per Ankh Academy, HSI Stem Grant funds and the CCC Foundation.

Phillips made sure the group of students is prepared ahead of time by having them read two books about HBCUs and meeting with them each Tuesday to discuss the readings and build chemistry before the trip.

The two books are “Our Kind of People: Inside of America’s Black Upper Class” and “HBCU Experience ­— The Book: A Collection of Essays Celebrating the Black College Experience.”

They have been meeting in preparation for the trip since January.

The group is made up of six male students and five female students. Two of the students are Latinx and two are representing Middle College High School.

One of the MCHS students, Preston Akubuo-Onwuemeka, made it a point to highlight the significance of the trip being free.

“There are low income students who may not have as many academic benefits afforded to them. A trip like this allows them to relax and have a good time focusing on their education and future,” he said.

One of the aspects he is most excited about is getting to experience student life on an HBCU campus.

Preston’s target school is Howard University in Washington D.C.

Kyler Williams, the other Middle College student going on the tour, is looking forward to bringing experiences back with him that he can cherish for the rest of his life.

He also plans to use his experiences to educate others about HBCUs.

Both of them agreed that giving young black scholars an opportunity to network is something very important.

Eligah Morgan, a CCC student who went on the very first tour two years ago, said, “When I went on the trip it was a real eye-opener getting to interact with HBCU students and hear from them about why they chose to go there.

“The hospitality at those schools is just so much different,” he said.