Grambling State University sophomore Shayna Espy represented Grambling State University as a 2019 HBCU Competitiveness Scholar during the National HBCU Week Conference, Sept. 8-11 in Washington, D.C.
Held at the Renaissance Hotel with the theme “Enhancing HBCU Competitiveness: Student Achievement, Quality Partnerships. Institutional Performance,” the National HBCU Week Conference recruited student representatives from historically black colleges and universities across the country.
The annual conference is planned by the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, which was created in 1981 under President Ronald Reagan’s administration.
Espy, a double major in marketing and business management from Las Vegas, Nevada, was chosen after filling out an application in January.
“An application comes out at the end of every year,” Espy said. “You fill out the application, but before you submit your application, you have to have a letter of recommendation to be chosen by the president to represent Grambling.”
Students participated in group projects sponsored by NASA and presented their projects.
“NASA had these spin-off ideas and concepts,” Espy said. “There were over 44 students; all of the 44 students were broken up into small teams and each were a given a concept and we had to do a presentation of the concept.”
Espy said that her team did a presentation on damage detection systems for NASA.
Students also participated in a series of workshops that were aimed on how to better improve their respective HBCUs as student representative.
“The workshop I chose was ‘How to better fund your HBCU?’,” Espy, who hopes to gain funding for housing for Grambling students with children, said. “Something that I am trying to implement is housing for students who have children, because they can’t live in the dorm with them.”
Espy said the housing would feature a daycare facility and it would be included within the student’s tuition.
Espy said that the highlight of her experience was to sit in on the conference during President Donald Trump’s speech.
“I got to hear the fakeness,” Espy, in reference to Trump mentioning the late GSU head football Eddie G. Robinson during his speech, said. “(Trump) mentioned Grambling and how he and Eddie G. Robinson were close friends.”
Espy, who was the only representative from Grambling, said that she wants to bring awareness to the program so that more students at Grambling can participate in next year’s conference.
“I want to get the word out for more students to apply,” Espy said.
“The program’s goal is how can the government better help HBCUs.”