North area students meet with admissions officials of dozens of black universities

Published: Thursday, Sep. 12, 2013 - 9:20 pm
Last Modified: Friday, Sep. 13, 2013 - 9:17 am

A college recruitment fair turned into college admission day for more than 150 students at Grant Union High School on Thursday morning.

When the event ended at noon, admissions officers for more than 35 historically black colleges and universities, or HBCU, also handed out $1.5 million scholarships to the students they had accepted.

Students from 10 schools in the Twin Rivers, Natomas and San Juan school districts had been asked to bring copies of their transcripts, SAT/ACT scores and letters of recommendation to the fair so they could submit multiple applications.

Officials said 500 students attended the 14th annual HBCU Recruitment Fair. More than 100 colleges and universities established before 1964 that serve the black community are HBCU schools, and more than a third attended the local event.

Grant High senior Eulisa Wilson, 17, was admitted to Benedict College in Columbia, S.C., Wiley College in Marshall, Texas, Langston (Okla.) University, Kentucky State and Alabama A&M University during the fair.

She must wait to hear from her dream school, Virginia State University, but was told she had ‘‘to get my GPA up.’’ Her grade point average is 2.1 and she will need a 2.8 for admission to that college.

According to a recruiter at Paul Quinn College in Dallas, more than 25 students were offered admission and $1,000 scholarships.

To gain admission, students needed to earn a minimum 2.5 GPA, have a fair amount of extracurricular activities and advanced classes on their résumés, and spend five minutes in an interview with recruiting director Jessika Lara.

“We want to get to know the student personally, rather than on paper,” Lara said. “We look for students who have the fire to be successful and want to make a difference in their communities.”

Vanessa Smith, 17, a senior at Inderkum High School, filled out applications for Hampton (Va.) University, Tuskegee University, Virginia State University and Shaw University in Raleigh, N.C.

Smith, whose dream school is Howard University, said she wasn’t looking for schools outside of the HBCU system.

“You get to have teachers who look like you,” Smith said. “It’s uplifting.”

Smith said she also liked the affordability, small class sizes and “family atmosphere” that HBCU campuses offer.

For students who didn’t receive on-the-spot admission, school recruiters offered advice to help them become eligible before applications are due.

“Send me a transcript in December,” said Shaw University senior admissions counselor Brenda Lucas to a student whose GPA, she said, was too low. “Stay in touch, email me and let me know how things go.”

Lucas was accepting students whose GPAs were at least a 2.5. She accepted nine students to the university before the fair ended.

“Congratulations, you’ve just been admitted,” Lucas told Kirsten Lee, a 16-year-old senior at Natomas High School. However, Lucas then asked Lee to send in an official transcript, her SAT/ACT scores, a personal essay and three letters of recommendation by the end of October.

“We look at balance,” Lucas said. While some students have high GPAs and test scores, recruiters also look for students who have volunteered in their communities.

Besides the opportunities for admission and scholarships, the fair also gave students an opportunity to educate themselves on the HBCU system, which currently includes no schools in California.

Ryan White, 17, a senior at Inderkum High, said the best part of the recruitment fair was “getting to find out more things that I couldn’t find online.”

“It seems like they can give me some good opportunities,” White said.

White applied to Howard University, Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Fla., Virginia State University and Benedict College. He hoped to be admitted to Howard University so he can study photography, film or animation.

“Our goal is to make sure that every student in this city knows that college is not just a dream and we can get them there,” said Alan Rowe, president of the United College Action Network, the organization that produced the recruitment fair.

U-CAN will hold another HBCU recruitment fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at Monterey Trail High School in Elk Grove.

Call The Bee’s Brittany Torrez, (916) 321-1103.

Read more articles by Brittany Torrez

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