Thousands of students with folders of college information filled the Los Convention Center as the 17th Annual Black College Expo brought representatives from across the country to show Los Angles what historically Black colleges and universities have to offer on Sunday, Feb. 8 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The halls were full of young, Black students with gleaming eyes ready to speak to representatives of close to 100 colleges and educational programs, including Howard University, Tuskegee University and Fisk University. Not only was there information, but students also had to opportunity to apply and get accepted on the spot.
“I’ve been going to this event since I was eight, but I’m taking it really seriously this year because I’m a senior,” said Leah Mitchell, 17, a senior at Pomona High School. “I think this event is very important because sometimes people don’t think that they can get accepted and then they come here and get accepted and without it they probably wouldn’t have applied.”
The expo featured tons of workshops and booths surrounding different college concerns and career routes. The panel discussions ranged from topics of how a college education changes lives to college opportunities through the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. Whether it was the student’s first time going or if they had been going since kindergarten, the expo had a wealth of information that everyone could take something from.
“I got to see a lot of colleges and connect with a lot of people. I also learned a lot about scholarships and how you can get them from so many places, even food places,” said Tyler Faison, 16, a junior at Gardena High School. “I really like this event because I think it helps Black people as a culture to want to go to college.”
The expo encouraged scholarship as is rewarded over $25,000 to close to 15 students with checks ranging from $150 to $5,000. Judge Greg Mathis also played a part in the expo as he personally gave out two $5,000 scholarship checks. The students who won will be able to use these scholarships for a number of things ranging from books, to housing, to even tuition payment. The winners were picked based off of their essays on why a college education is important to them.
“It’s a huge relief, $5000. But whether it’s $5,000 or $100, every single bit counts,” said Rickey Brown III, 18, who received the highest scholarship given. “This isn’t my first scholarship and hopefully it won’t be my last. I’m so grateful to everyone involved because it’s great to see people who have made it give back and continue to encourage minorities to pursue higher education.”
The expo also included s stage with a DJ and various performances hosted by the Westbrook sisters to give the students an idea of social life at a historically Black college.
“What really sticks out to me is that not only is there great information and opportunities to go to historically Black colleges, but also the performances,” said Judge Mathis. “This is an opportunity to let them know how fun college can be. It shows them that they can become members of a step team and they can join sororities and fraternities to enhance themselves and their community. There are many other aspects of college than studying and athletics.”
The expo continues to grow each year and throughout the year as there are community events through the organization every day geared towards mentoring, resume building and more. The Black College Expo also tours Atlanta, Oakland, Houston, DC/Maryland and New York.
“We’re just trying to make sure that we meet students at the front door, wherever they are, who they think they’re not, and what they don’t know they can be because we are all gifted and we’re trying to dig it out of them and let them know that it’s already there and we just need to shine it up,” said Theresa Price, founder of the Black College Expo.
For more information on how you can get involved, visit www.thecollegeexpo.org.