Twelfth grade Dorsey High School student Kory Laflora knows he wants to obtain a chemical engineering degree and thinks he may want to attend a historically Black college.
To help him decide on a school, the 17-year-old recently joined more than 750 students in grades eight through 12 from 15 Los Angeles area schools at the First African Methodist Episcopal Church of Los Angeles’ (FAME) 3rd Annual Hoops and Options College and Career Fair.
“It’s a wealth of information to help the kids decide,” said Georgia Smith, Laflora’s mother, who accompanied him to the fair for support. “Hopefully, it helps him decide where to go.”
The half-day event, held on the church campus, commenced with uplifting speeches including one from Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Austin Beutner, who encouraged students to use the affair as an opportunity to ask questions and make good choices.
“Now you have to own this decision like you’ve never owned anything in your life and you have to do the work going in,” said Beutner. “We’re here to serve you in that decision. We’re here to support you to make it happen.”
Other speakers included FAME Pastor J. Edgar Boyd and FAME Minister of Youth David D. Price, a Harvard University alum, who urged the youth to keep striving for their goals even when it becomes challenging.
“It’s our responsibility to assist our students in making informed decisions about their future by sharing with them the multitude of options available to them,” said Boyd. “Through educational empowerment, we can help build strong families, the backbone of sustainable communities.”
The 50 vendors included representatives from various colleges as well as civic and law enforcement agencies, who provided information about career opportunities, college admissions, programs and scholarships. Additionally, a series of workshops offered guidance to students and parents on topics such as financing college, conversing with law enforcement officers and goal setting among others.
The annual event is organized by FAME’s Commission on Scholarship, Education and Training. Chaired by Paula DuBois, Ed.D., and co-chaired by Sue Beidleman, the ministry was established to expand the awareness of college, vocational and career options for students in grades 8 and beyond, through a series of academically-based, culturally-relevant programs, focused on academic training, career development and scholarship sourcing.
“We’ve set the groundwork over the previous two years,” said DuBois. “Our hard work has paid off.”
At many of the booths, students were allowed to complete and submit college applications. Benedict College, a historically Black college in Columbia, South Carolina, interviewed and admitted 26 students on the day of the event. Among the prizes awarded to attendees were two $500 book scholarships, courtesy of the “I Can Afford College” program.
L.A. Metro was the prime sponsor. Uno Munro and L.A. City Councilmembers Herb Wesson and Marqueece Harris Dawson provided in-kind donations.
First African Methodist Episcopal Church of Los Angeles (FAME) (www.famechurch.org) is the oldest church founded by African Americans in the city of Los Angeles. Mrs. Biddy Mason, a former slave, received the vision from God to establish a church that would minister to the mind, body and soul of all who would join that small band of believers.
The vision, nearly 146 years ago, has grown to what is now a congregation with several dozen ministries reaching people throughout the Los Angeles metropolitan area. Additionally, FAME Assistance Corporation, organized after the 1992 rebellion, continues to provide housing and much-needed services to community residents.