Many students anticipate being a part of a Historically Black College or University from the day they start high-school, due to the “hype” they might have heard about it, or simply because their parent(s) or someone influential in their lives are now alumni.
Others just go out on a limb and want a change of scenery.
Whatever the case may be, there are 105 HBCUs, and around 350,000 students attend them.
Historically Black Colleges and Universities have been questioned about how important they actually are: Can they compete with other universities. What exactly is the purpose of an HBCU?
In order to answer these questions, you must first have experienced life at an HBCU to understand the history and the struggle. The struggle to keep African Americans educated and the struggle to get more African Americans in the work force is a struggle we, as HBCUs, will fight to the end. We are the future. According to an African American female who happens to attend a predominately white university, HBCUs are not “realistic” because “the majority of the population is African Americans. However, in the real world that is not the case. College is supposed to help you adjust to the real world, and I think you get a fraction of that in HBCUs.”
Here at Grambling State University you are among mostly African Americans. But you do not know their backgrounds, and that in itself makes us different. In the “real world” you will come across people who are not like yourself, although they might have the same skin color. You will come across people from different cities, states and even countries, and that is exposure to the real world.
As far as “adjusting”, that is life. You must learn to adjust in any situation no matter where you are or what school you attend. At an HBCU away from home, you must quickly adjust and you eventually find that, that is your new home away from home and gives you an experience like no other. Here you experience the parties, the Greek organizations and non-Greek organizations, the history of the university, and most of all, the education. These experiences are like nothing you can experience at any other college or university.
According to Gabrielle Jones, a senior at Jackson State University, “A HBCU is a HBCU because of its heritage and history.” Jasmine Grant, a sophomore at Grambling State University, agrees.
This is the very reason they chose to attend an HBCU over any other college or university. An HBCU’s heritage and history are what make it important.
Knowing that other African Americans established a school during a time of discrimination to help educate their fellow brothers and sisters is very influential. It gives us hope for our future.
An HBCU is where a few of the first Greek organizations where established. If it wasn’t for HBCUs we would not have of them.
To know an HBCU is to know everything it entails. To want to be a part of something, you must first respect how, when and where it originated. We must be aware and help others to be aware of our heritage and history.
Some say we as HBCU students cannot compete with students from other colleges and universities in the job force. How can this be true when we work just as hard if not harder to ensure that we will have a good career after life at an HBCU?
And this is where our strong alumni come into play. We have alumni who care about their university as well as students’ future. They give back, and they support like no other university. How can you not love that? That is Pride with a capital P. We at HBCUs have fun and enjoy our experience while also handling business.
No one can understand our decision about why we chose an HBCU. Only we know why we chose to walk this path that others frown upon and some talk bad about. It is because we are journeying through this time in our life and we have found that place we can always be proud of even after we graduate.
The HBCU life is not for everybody. We are proud HBCU students, but most of all we are even prouder Gramblinites.
Jaketa Humphrey is a sophomore marketing major from Little Rock, Ark.