As November approaches, seniors are busy completing applications to colleges and universities nationwide. Competition for those young, promising minds is fierce. 

The application submissions period closes Nov. 30 for California State Universities admission in fall 2020. Several other entities are offering events and tours stressing the need for African American students to consider Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

“Mainly because they will receive the support and the encouragement of faculty, staff and fellow students,” said Elaine Moore, who is coordinating a November Black College fair. “Then there are the high academic standards and the opportunity to see role models.”

Moore is part of the Holman Community Development Corporation and Holman Bridges to HBCUs’ “Annual Black College Summit,” set from 5 to 8 p.m. on Monday, November 4 at Holman United Methodist Church, 3320 W. Adams Blvd. RSVP for the free event at www.blackcollegeadmissions.com

HBCU representatives on hand

“This is our ninth annual event,” Moore said. “What makes this college fair different is that this year we’re bringing 20 HBCU reps directly from their universities. You’re getting the admissions people who will be at the summit and many will offer onsite admissions.

“We’ll have information on financial aid and scholarships,” Moore added. “And there will be scholarship workshops as well.”

The event is open to community college students and high school students. Moore advises that high school seniors bring five or more copies of their transcripts, along with SAT scores if they wish to be considered for admission on the spot or application fee waivers, although not all representatives will be offering onsite admissions.

Community college students are advised to stop by the community college table for clearance and bring five copies of all college transcripts indicating the completion of 30 or more UC or CSU transferable units to take advantage of the California Community College Transfer Guarantee Agreement to HBCUs Project’s fee waiver and onsite application process, which has been nicknamed “the associates degree with a guarantee.” 

Twenty of the HBCU schools with booths at Holman already participate in the agreement, which has paved the way for thousands of students since it’s launch in 2012.

Transfers made easier

In most cases, if a student completes 60 semester units of general education and major-specific coursework at a community college, maintaining a 2.0 GPA or higher, they can transfer to a guaranteed spot with a junior standing at a participating four-year university.

A link showing a list of participating HBCUs is located on the California Community Colleges website: https://adegreewithaguarantee.com/en-us/List-Colleges.

Thomas Alexandre, a transfer student from West Los Angeles College (WLAC), plans to be at Holman’s Black College Summit, and staff the booth for Clark Atlanta University (CAU). He graduated from CAU in 2010 and wants to share his experiences at the fair.

“I realize that HBCUs haven’t really been pushed to a lot of individuals in California,” Alexandre said. “My passion is to let everyone know that there are options other than the UC and CSU systems.”

Alexandre was reared in South L.A. and graduated from Crenshaw High School before moving onto WLAC. That’s where he learned about HBCUs.

“I stumbled upon the HBCUs,” Alexandre said. “I didn’t really know too much about it before, but while I was attending a community college, I realized I could transfer my credits after going to West LA for two years.”

Even though he had never been to the south, after getting a start on college work at WLAC, Alexandre felt it was time to leave home for a while.

Learning about Black success stories

“It was one of the best decisions I made in my life and made me what I am today,” he said. “Seeing something outside of California was much needed. It taught me more responsibility, getting away from home.”

After choosing a major in business at CAU, Alexandre’s classes often brought in guest speakers, HBCU success stories and Atlanta millionaires. Some of his teachers were celebrities themselves.

“One of my professors was Dr. Dennis Kimbro, a world renown millionaire and book writer. He’s written so many inspiring, motivational books. He wrote ‘Think and Grow Rich: A Black Choice’” Alexandre said. “Having a class by that professor and learning from him taught me the world of business and made a huge impression on me and taught me the benefits of professionalism.” 

“That was one of the first classes I had,” Alexandre added. “First year seminar class grooms you, you learn the way to dress and go through mock interviews in that first year.”

Alexandre said that through his matriculation in business school he learned the power of ownership. After graduation, he joined with CAU friends Hassani Ellis and Omar Muhammed to work in the community.

“Me and two friends decided to open our own firm called Crenshaw and Clark Financial, where we specialize in taxes, accounting and financial planning,” Alexandre said.

He agrees with Moore, and believes that HBCUs offer a one-of-a kind education.

“I recommend HBCUs because its an experience you’ll get at no other institution,” Alexandre said. “You’re a part of a family instead of just another number. I still have conversations with my old professors. 

“I developed life-long relationships throughout college and know I’ve got life-long friends around the world,” he added. “We were individuals from different places, coming all together to benefit ourselves.”

Alexandre said that there were two major takeaways from his time at Clark Atlanta University.

HBCU tours set

“That we are a culture for service,” he said. “And that we can always find a way or make one.”

Educational Student Tours (EST) will hold its next community college student tour from March 29 through April 3, 2020 and April 5-10, 2020.

The EST tour for high school students is set from June 14-18 in 2020. Tours sell out early every year and the student cost of $1748 includes round-trip airfare from LAX, meals, hotels, ground transportation, night-time, professional security and a chaperone ratio of at least 1 to 15. Parent cost to attend the tour is $1900. 

“Of the students who attended our 2018 tours, 71 percent chose HBCUs and are there right now,” said Dr. Yasmin Delahoussaye, who has managed the EST tours with her husband Gregory for the past 32 years. “It’s been a labor of love.”              

EST also creates opportunities for low-income and foster youth to attend HBCUs in order to transform their lives.

The Delahoussayes recently returned from a special 10-student tour for foster youth. Even after receiving a grant for the trip and substantial donations from L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas (Second District), The Hale Foundation and Union Bank, Delahoussaye had a difficult time coordinating the tour.

“It almost took an act of God and Congress, because some of the social workers responded, but some did not,” she said, noting that although Blacks make up only 9 percent of L.A. County’s population, 29 percent of the children in foster care are Black.

Persistence pays off

“There’s a process to get a judge to clear you to take foster kids out of the state,” Delahoussaye explained, adding that social workers must be willing to work with tour guides throughout the various procedures that will permit the foster child to travel.

Still, she and her husband persisted and were bound and determined to find 10 youth for the college tour trip.

“We ended up with seven seniors and three juniors,” Delahoussaye said, noting that her contact at the Los Angeles Unified School District helped her get in touch with students. 

The highlight of the tour was the visit to Johnson C. Smith University (JCSU) in North Carolina. JCSU has a special program specifically for foster youth called “Phasing Up to New Possibilities,” which offers additional financial aid; help with finding local jobs; a food pantry; and mentors who are studying in the School of Social Work.

“The emotion that came out of that trip, I can’t describe to you,” Delahoussaye said. “It was life changing.”

Many foster youth, Delahoussaye explained, have had to deal with very adult issues, including being offered drugs, living with domestic violence, being recruited for prostitution; and/or dealing with depression. 

One of the students on the trip had lived in five different family placements within the past year, but still managed to test with the highest SAT score in her school.

“Their stories are heartbreaking,” Delahoussaye said. “The trauma that they’ve been through.”

During the EST tour, the foster youth group explored the campus and met with JCSU foster youth who are currently in “Phasing Up.”

“They definitely felt the love at Johnson,” Delahoussaye said. “Three of the seven seniors decided off-the-bat that was their school. That’s where they are going.”

More than 4500 high school and community college students have participated in EST tours over the years and 80 percent are enrolled in HBCUs.

EST is a 501c (3) non-profit, tax-exempt organization and welcomes donations at https://blackcollegetours.org/ways-to-give/.

Apple’s new scholarship program

Students who are currently attending an HBCU may qualify for Apple’s $40 million HBCU scholarship program.

The Thurgood Marshall College Fund, in partnership with Apple, is accepting applications from HBCU students who have a minimum 3.0 GPA and are currently working toward an undergraduate, masters or Ph.D. degree, and graduating between December 2020 and May 2022.

Selected scholars will participate in a 12-week internship during the summer and will receive a need-based scholarship award that will be applied to the academic year immediately following their internship period. 

The program has opportunities for students in a variety of disciplines. Apple is looking for individuals who have analytical abilities, the ability to articulate ideas, the ability to learn new concepts, along with excellent verbal and written communication skills.

The Apple application will remain open until all internship positions have been filled. 

For details visit www.tmcf.org/our-programs/career-preparation/apple-tmcf-hbcu-initiative-2.