Mayor Mike Purzycki proclaimed September as Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Month in Wilmington. Events to promote awareness among local students and their families about the importance of HBCUs took place, including a college fair, which was held at the 76ers Fieldhouse in New Castle, Delaware on Friday, September 20, 2019.
Seventeen Sanford students, most from the newly formed Black Students Union (BSU), and their sponsors, Upper School Administrative Assistant Carlene Spencer and Upper School Dean Stan Waterman, attended this event with the goal of providing students with the opportunity to broaden their knowledge of HBCUs by having the chance to speak with representatives from those institutions.
Prior to attending the fair, the students partnered with Director of College Counseling Casey Zimmer to prepare for the experience. Zimmer made certain that each student had a copy of his/her transcript and SAT/PSAT/ACT scores printed and that everything was packaged and ready for the college fair.
Thirty schools were represented at the college fair, including: Bowie State University, Coppin State University, Delaware State University, Lincoln University, Norfolk State University, Spellman College, the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, and Virginia State University. Students were able to speak directly with representatives from these universities and learn more about what they have to offer in terms of academics, athletics, and financial aid.
BSU President Nia Naylor '20 attended the fair and shared: “I am extremely grateful for the experience. I was actually immediately accepted into five schools, including my dream schools Spelman College and Howard University. I also learned more about scholarships and how to have a double major without getting overwhelmed.” Regarding the newly formed BSU, Naylor stated: “We are only in the first few weeks of our first year as a group. So far, I am very pleased with how things have turned out. Being able to attend the college fair was a great first activity, and I am grateful to Sanford for allowing us to go.”
Dasia Straker '20 is the secretary of BSU, and she explained that the group is designed to “create a more inclusive space for the black students at Sanford. We are trying to have a place where everyone can share their experiences as a minority and provide tips for each other on how to best handle situations that might arise.” Regarding the HBCU fair, Straker commented: “This was a great experience. I had the chance to test my on-the-spot interview skills. I am now seriously considering Norfolk State University, as they were able to provide me with detailed information about majors and campus life.”
The overwhelming response from the Sanford attendees was that the fair was a valuable experience and an excellent use of the students’ time. Isiah Bracey '20 noted: “Events such as these expose black students to colleges in an atmosphere that is comfortable. Most college fairs often do not have many minorities present, which can be intimidating. These events remind black students that there are people just like them with the same goal in mind.”
In its first month of existence BSU participated in the college fair, which many students proclaimed as being life changing and all deemed as being a huge success. With its goal of being a community within a community, it is very likely that the BSU will continue to seek out opportunities for its members to thrive, grow, and enjoy being their authentic selves.