Sponsored tour promotes ‘positive’ aspirations

Six students selected to visit historical African-American colleges

By Michael Santone, Associate Editor

Six Contra Costa College students are getting the opportunity to visit a variety of top educational institutions and historic sites throughout the southeast with the Historical Black College and University tour from April 9-15.

The tour will highlight the campuses of seven of the most prestigious universities including Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, Morgan State University in Maryland, Hampton University and Norfolk University in Virginia, Bennett or North Carolina A&T, West Virginia State University and Howard University in Washington, D.C.

The cost of the tour, which is $1,499 per student, will be sponsored by the CCC Student Equity Fund and cover the round-trip plane ticket from Oakland, Calif. to Baltimore, Md., hotel accommodations, as well as breakfast, lunch and dinner for the duration of the tour.

History department Chairperson Manu Ampim said that in his 10 and a half years at CCC this is the first time the college has sponsored students on a HBCU tour.

“This [tour] gives students the experience of going to a black four-year university,” he said, “Those born and raised on the West Coast don’t get a chance to see these colleges and universities.”

The Per Ankh Academy and EOPS had one spot each reserved for a student, while the other four spots were open to all students throughout CCC.

For students to participate, eligibility requirements had to be met, including the completion of at least 15 transferable units at the time of application, with a higher priority to students with more transferable units, a 2.5 transferable GPA or higher at the time of application and verified through unofficial transcript, good academic and disciplinary standing at CCC, interest in attending a HBCU tour, and a personal statement.

African-American studies major Carrielee Walker said she is looking forward to seeing all the universities on the list, but the ones that catch her eye are Morgan State, Howard, Hampton and North Carolina A&T.

“Being able to see the campuses in person rather than on social media and being able to speak to students and faculty members is most exciting,” she said.

“Traveling to these colleges allows me to have a broader view of other universities outside of California that show interest in my careers.”

Walker said she plans on including sociology, real estate and criminal justice, with a minor in business, in her undergraduate studies on her journey to reaching her dreams of becoming a civil rights attorney, a counselor for students in high school and college and creating a property management company.

“This tour is also to gather as much information about the campuses to report back to other students who may be indecisive about leaving California and creating a network before transferring,” she said,

“The importance of this tour is seeing positive black young adults accomplish goals rather than the overly dehumanizing images we see through the mass media.”

Ampim, who has attended a HBCU  tour in the past, said he knows first-hand that these colleges nurture and support black students.

“The odds have been stacked against black people in college and these HBCU tours create an environment which understands that.”

African-American studies major Elijah Morgan said it’s a blessing to be able to go on this tour because not many community colleges take students on tours like the HBCU.

“I want to learn as much as possible from the college experience, because some people say it’s too expensive or that college isn’t for them,” he said.

Morgan said that he is excited to tour Hampton University and visit the National Museum of African-American History and Culture in Washington D.C.

The tour is not exclusive to just CCC, but will include students from Diablo Valley College, College of Alameda, San Jose City College, Evergreen College, as well as community colleges from Southern California.

Each college has designated a chaperone for its group, with Student Life Coordinator Joel Nickelson-Shanks accompanying the CCC students.

“Going on an adventure with people from different colleges can help with social skills,” Morgan said, “There’s a big group going, so we will be able to communicate and network with students and faculty.”