On Saturday March 4, students from Hampton Roads woke up at the crack of dawn to meet the bus for Road Show Six’s trip to the 2017 DC/Maryland Black College Expo at Bowie State University in Bowie, Md.
My name is Mahogany. I was asked to write about my trip to the expo.
Now many people have gone on one of the memorable journeys to experience new things, trying to discover the right college, asking serious questions, and getting a real grip on college life. But this college fair was a bit different than most, and what I mean by that is, it was held at an HBCU, formally known as an Historically Black College and University.
You are probably wondering why an HBCU. Well, with the majority of the students on the bus being African-American, many parents, faculty and staff thought this would be a great experience. The trip was sponsored by GOing2COLLEGEisEZ (EZ).
Its website said it was established in July 2013 as “a social enterprise of educational consultants that partners with like-minded educators, administrators, entrepreneurs, and mentors to deliberate and deploy strategies that help deter school dropout and close the achievement gap among at risk (i.e., first-generation, low-income, minority) and other underrepresented student populations in Grades 6-12. It provides educational consulting services that support educational processes or systems to enhance student achievement and offer college and career planning as a simple, manageable, and seamless alternative.”
Mr. Willie Lee, a businessman who volunteers each year, was one of our chaperones who helped organize our trip. First, the bus picked up a diverse group of students at New Hope Baptist Church in Virginia Beach, VA. Then it picked up a few students at my high school, Booker T. Washington in Norfolk. While talking with Mr. Lee, I discovered that he also attended and graduated from an HBCU, even an historically (predominantly) African-American high school known as Booker T. Washington High, my school.
Bowie State University, an HCBU, was founded in 1865, making it the oldest HBCU in Maryland and one of the 10 oldest in the United States.
Inside the vast college expo, I discovered many colleges that I hadn’t heard of, some which weren’t even HBCUs. Some of them I had heard about, like Morgan State University, Howard University, North Carolina A&T, Lincoln University, Alabama State, Delaware State University, Liberty University, Florida A&M and many others.
Each was very informative and very attentive of all of the guests. With over 150 colleges being there, it could seem very overwhelming; but, honestly, after speaking with specific colleges, it seemed to go well.
My name is La’kia Burns.
I attend Heritage High School in Newport News.
My aunt arranged for me to make this trip. Though she lives in Norfolk, she took me to New Hope Baptist Church on Indian River Road, because she didn’t want to take any chances of my missing this opportunity. She wanted me to experience the whole trip since this was my first experience going to a college expo.
Nothing quite compares to having your senses tested by trying to function correctly at three o’clock in the morning. In my personal opinion, it is inhumane to be up so early in the morning. Between getting out of bed, shivering from the cold breeze of opening the bathroom door, and having a civil war with the toothbrush and your mouth, it is almost unheard of for teenagers. The only explanation or excuse for the sleep deprivation is going on a trip to a well-known HBCU college expo.
Getting on the bus was a memorable experience. I can’t speak for everyone’s personal anxieties; but, I don’t like the idea of sitting with strangers. Especially when the places you are going to are unfamiliar. It would be recommended that you choose wisely where you sit and whom you sit with.
Coming on campus was a great experience. Thanks to Mr. Wille Lee, and the other directors of the trip, who made it possible.
Stepping onto the campus was nothing short of a phenomenal experience. It helped expose me to the different opportunities and roads I can take. When I first went into the crowd of noisy students, I wasn’t sure where to start. It took me a while to figure out where to begin due to the many choices of universities.
As I walked around, I ran into colleges I had never even heard of. I probably never would have heard of them if not for the efforts of Mr. Lee and the other adults. As an executive for the Bank of America, it means a lot that he took time out of his schedule to help plan our futures. The multitude of colleges there were ready to answer the accumulating questions of future scholars.
Because of Mr. Lee, I got the chance to meet another outstanding individual by the name of Dr. Margaret Calloway. She specializes in infectious diseases, and she is an assistant professor of Medicine at the Uniformed Services University Uniformed Services He’bert SOM (in Bethesda, MD). My aunt made me Google her after I told her I met her, and that she wanted to help me. Dr. Calloway gave her office number and email address.
Dr. Calloway was not a college recruiter. She was at the expo to do some research and network. She told me she had some contacts at different colleges and universities that I may be interested in since I want to major in architectural engineering. She also gave me a site that would help me study with my SAT.
When I got home I called to thank her for reaching out to me. For this story I asked her why she attended college. She said furthering her education was something she wanted to do to “pursue the field of medicine she was interested in.” She spent many years pursuing her education. She even quit jobs just to do so. Her dedication to what she strived to do will forever be an inspiration.
“In order to open more doors, you must close some,” she told me.
After the expo, we were treated with mouth-watering selections at brunch. As our day ended, the different fraternities put on a showcase demonstrating what they are all about. All and alI I would say the trip was a great step in the right direction for students on the road to better themselves. I would recommend this trip to anyone looking for a route to be a successful individual wherever they may be. I would say this was a great excuse for getting out of bed so early in the morning. Thank you Mr. Lee. Thanks, Auntie!
Mahogany Duvall is a junior at Booker T. Washington in Norfolk, VA. She plans to major in Journalism and/or Theater in college. La’kia Burns is a junior at Heritage High in Newport News, VA. He is interested in pursuing Architectural Engineering. Student notes were edited for publication.