HBCU Academic Student All-Stars Weigh In: Separate Fact From Fiction About Campus Life at Black Colleges

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HBCU Academic Student All-Stars Weigh In: Separate Fact From Fiction About Campus Life at Black Colleges – Written by:

Bryann Andrea Guyton

Bryann Andrea Guyton

Here’s what HBCU Academic All-Stars, Tamina P. Kienka, Britt Spears, Tamara Bates, and Kyle Brown had to say about their experiences and misconceptions on attending black colleges…

I recently came upon the U.S. News article, HBCU Academic ‘All Stars’ Separate Fact From Fiction About Campus Life  . And after reading the article, which introduced students depicting misconceptions about attending black colleges, I was compelled to reach out to a few more academic student all-stars attending HBCUs throughout the nation and invite them to also weigh in on the topic.   See according to Huffington Post,  “Performance and learning outcomes are extremely important and vital to any institution’s desire to demonstrate how they meet their mission and goals but it has become a less than comfortable experience for many HBCUs as they are often being compared to other PWIs  who may have been afforded a longer period of consistent and substantial state support, large alumni bases of support and larger academic and extracurricular programs that generate revenue and subsequently raise the brand value of the institution.”

Well, here’s what HBCU Academic All-Stars, Tamina P. Kienka, Britt Spears, Tamara Bates, and Kyle Brown had to say about their experiences and misconceptions on attending black colleges:

Tamina P. Kienka, a native of Nigeria, attends North Carolina Central University. Kienka completed research internships at Yale University and Duke University and worked as a medical intern for the Tropical Pathology and Infectious Disease Association in Iquitos, Peru, in 2014.

Tamina Kienka

Tamina Kienka

Kienka explains the value that NCCU offers and how well the university has supported him in his academic endeavors:

“HBCUs cater to many underrepresented students, particularly African-Americans. There is a strong sense of mission and place shared by employees. These institutions nurture students of various upbringings and at differing levels of academic preparedness, creating a unique cultural climate.”

“NCCU has facilitated my overall growth in a number of ways and made me a better-rounded individual. I have been placed in stimulating intellectual environments internally and have been afforded external learning opportunities in Duke and Yale University as well as Iquitos, Peru. I have also enhanced my emotional intelligence through interactions with students from a wide range of social and economic backgrounds. There is something special about HBCUs. Professors make your needs their focus.”

Kienka concludes that HBCUs could afford to improve on finding a delicate balance between integrating changing times and keeping tradition. “In order to progress, they will need to pit themselves against not just historically black institutions but colleges and universities nationwide. HBCUs need to incorporate new styles and methods to push through their many challenges and put forward their best possible product. Maintaining identity is important but growth is critical to their survival.”

Britt Spears attends Prairie View A&M University and is the Youth Ambassador to Nagaoka, Japan and Mbabane, Swaziland.  She states that, “HBCU’s have the value of bringing a minority group of students together to learn lessons inside and outside the classroom. In the African-American community there is sometimes an unfortunate struggle during child rearing age (financial struggle, educational availability, and sometimes one parent households). Historically Black Colleges and Universities typically have an environment that creates a family structure that some students never have prior to college.”

Britt Spears

Britt Spears

“As a student leader I get a significant amount of support from my university academically as well as otherwise. Unfortunately, I see many students that are not involved on campus do not get the same treatment. Administration does not actively seek out students that are “general population” and often give the responsibility of student support to student leaders.”

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Britt explains how HBCUs might benefit from raising the bar higher for student acceptance. “HBCU’s can improve by raising the bar prior to acceptance, avoiding mediocrity, and relieving the idea that HBCU’s are last chance institutions. Whether it be a public or private institution, raising GPA acceptance numbers and being selective with individuals accepted is crucial. Avoiding the idea of maintaining what we have and exceeding expectations is also important.”

Tamara Bates of Philander Smith College, Little Rock Arkansas is a recipient of the Student Humanitarian of the Year Award.  Bates feels that HBCUs can be valued for diversity, culturally relevant education, and for comfort/Psychological safety.  When questioned about areas in which HBCUs could demonstrate improvement, she stated, “HBCUs have difficulty with enrolling and retaining students at their institutions because of affordability.”

Tamara Bates

Tamara Bates

Kyle Brown attends Winston Salem State University where he is the Student Body President and a Provost Scholar.  Kyle had this to say about his HBCU experience:

Kyle Brown

Kyle Brown

“The value that HBCUs have is unmatched.  These institutions were born out of the desire to advocate and advance the education of African American students in the late 1800’s.  At HBCUs the family environment is remarkable and the ability to have a laser focused vision towards academia and family is unheard of in the higher education realm.”

“The support at an HBCU is amazing.  The intimate relationship that faculty and students have builds more than classroom relationships but relationships that exist for the rest of our lives.  Every sector of a HBCU is seamless in its support for student development.  The vision of each department is student centered and it creates a living learning community that is rarely seen elsewhere.”

“I believe HBCUs can improve at branding of their university.  As a student at a HBCU I think we must tell our story better and give the community, media, nation, and world an accurate perception of HBCUs.  The students that graduate from HBCUs are beyond successful and it is imperative they tell their story and the institution supports them after departure.”

About the Author:  Bryann Andrea Guyton is the White House Initiative on HBCUs Student Ambassador for Shaw University where she is a full time student athlete on the women’s basketball team.   Along with college and a career in modeling, Bryann continues to work with several marketing agencies, networking communication departments, and nonprofit organizations.  She is also a contributing author and Brand Ambassador for  Chocolate Informed Online Magazine.

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