Sept. 16, 2016
Howard University will be there. So, too, will Xavier
University of Louisiana, Alabama A&M, Central State, Spelman, Morehouse,
Norfolk State, Tuskegee, Kentucky State and Florida A&M.
In all, more than 50 of the country’s top Historically Black
Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) will be in attendance at the 37th Annual HBCU College
Fair from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 22, at Crispus Attucks Medical Magnet High School,
1140 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St.
For many students, attending the fair is like hitting the
educational lottery. It’s a chance for students and their parents to learn more
about the schools, the degree programs and to speak with college recruiters,
many of whom come with scholarship dollars to offer on the spot.
Exposing Indiana’s students to the rich history, educational
opportunities and lifetime experiences provided at HBCUs is one of the main
goals of the Indianapolis Black Alumni
Council, Inc. (IBAC). Comprised of HBCU graduates and or parents of alumni,
IBAC members created the college fair in 1979.
“It’s all about exposure,” said Larry Dunlap, president of
IBAC, who received his bachelor’s degree and juris doctorate from Howard
University in Washington, D.C. (an HBCU school). “Not many students know about
HBCUs (because not all guidance counselors educate students about them), but
once they take time and read about the history and track record of the
graduates, they’re intrigued.”
According to recent data from Robin White Goode in Black
Enterprise magazine, HBCUs are responsible for:
- 75% of all black Ph.D.s
- 46% of black business executives
- 50% of black engineers
- 80% of black federal judges
- 85% of black doctors
- 50% of black attorneys
- 75% of black military officers
- 40% of black dentists
- 50% of black pharmacists
- 75% of black veterinarians
“When you look at those numbers, what does it say to you?”
asked Dr. Ruth Woods, a pre-collegiate consultant for the Metropolitan School
District of Pike Township and a longstanding member of IBAC, who has a poster
of these statistics hanging on her office wall.
For most of her life, Woods has sung the praises of an HBCU
education. Although she didn’t attend one (Wood’s is a graduate of Indiana
University and Martin University), she and her husband required all four of
their children to graduate from an HBCU — and all did.
The love that Woods — an Indianapolis Public Schools alumna,
who graduated from Shortridge High School — has for HBCUs is evident the minute
you walk into her office inside the Freshman Center at Pike. There’s a map of
the United Sates filled with colored push pins indicating the cities where she
has placed students into HBCUs. On another wall are pennants from many of the 100-plus
HBCU member schools. And high above the map are pictures of some of the
students who have graduated from or are currently attending an HBCU. One by
one, she recounts their success stories: millionaire, engineers, doctors.
“HBCUs offer results,” said Woods, who chaired the college
fair program for 15 years. “They also give our kids confidence. When you see
them walk in the door (after attending an HBCU), it’s confidence that they’ve
made it and reached a goal that they’ve set up for themselves. It’s pride.”
HBCUs are institutions of higher learning that opened prior
to 1964, the year Congress passed the Civil Rights Act. The schools were
founded when segregation was legal and rampant. Today, the nation’s 105 HBCUs
serve more than 300,000 undergraduate and graduate students — from various
races — in 20 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Although African-Americans now have the freedom to study in
colleges and universities throughout the world, Dunlap believes HBCUs are still
important and successful institutions of higher education because
African-American students get to learn from professors and interact with
students who not only look like them, but can relate to many of the same life
“The nurturing and care that you receive at an HBCU is not
the same at a ‘majority’ school,” said Dunlap. “At an HBCU, no one wants you to
fail. Even the upperclassmen go out of their way to help you. You’ll get that
valuable type of encouragement.”
In the more than 30 years of the HBCU College Fair’s existence,
it continues to grow each year. These days, it draws students from nine states,
33 cities and 88 high schools. The Council also uses a distance recruitment
network to reach more students.
Organizers work diligently to incorporate new components
into the annual program. In addition to mingling with the school’s recruiters,
this year’s fair will include Elizabeth City State University’s Aviation
Science Mobile Unit for students interested in aviation science careers. Wiley
College will also unveil a new scholarship opportunity for its film and drama
institute from “Birth of a Nation” star and Wiley alumnus, Nate Parker.
Students with a 3.0 or higher GPA are also invited to attend
a scholarship event from 9 a.m. to noon Friday, Sept. 23, at Crispus Attucks,
where recruiters will be awarding scholarships from many of the schools in
attendance at Thursday’s fair. To be considered for scholarships, students must
bring their transcripts and test scores.
The wealth of information and opportunities provided during
the HBCU College Fair is paramount, said Dunlap. “It’s a unique and excellent
way for students and parents to learn about HBCUs. It’s the best thing going
for African-American families.”
To register for IBAC’s HBCU College Fair 2016, click here.