Historic Commencements Amplify America’s Continuing Reliance on HBCUs
[mpoverlay]It would be easy to tout the continued value of historically black colleges and universities by running down the impressive roster of commencement speakers scheduled for the coming weeks. Political strategists, activists, actors, business leaders, and even the First Lady will stop at a HBCU graduation for the second consecutive year.
But the names of famous speakers and honorary graduates aren’t the most impressive thing at many HBCU commencements. Record-breaking graduate numbers and history-making achievements being celebrated at these events show a prospering black college culture that continues to attract and prepare students for a changing world.
Alcorn State University and Huston-Tillotson University will this spring celebrate the largest graduating classes in their respective histories, significant feats considering major higher ed funding cuts in Mississippi and Texas, and expanded marketing in both states to minority students. In times where mainstream media paints HBCUs as drop-out factories and ineffective systems of learning, these schools not only meet the needs of an underresourced population, but help it to grow and thrive.
In Raleigh, NC., Saint Augustine’s College will graduate its last class before a fall transition in name and status to Saint Augustine’s University. Already one of the nation’s emerging small colleges, the Falcons are now poised to offer graduate programs for the first time in school history, and are enhancing programs and research centers for continuing education, forensics, applied sciences and public health that meet the needs of the state and the region in service to the nation.
These examples are few in the total scope of the thousands of HBCU graduates that will leave institutions across America ready for new opportunities in entrepreneurship, civil service, education, public health, and S.T.E.M. industries, all fields that historically harvest talent from HBCUs for the thought leaders that redefine innovation and productivity for the future.
The HBCU story isn’t defined by the few rich and famous black people who make a speech on a spring morning. It is defined by the bright minds who earned the right to hear their speech, and the family histories that will be forever changed as a result of their hard work.[/mpoverlay]