On Thursday, Oct. 26, The Quad at Santa Monica College’s main campus was a scene of joyous activity and conversation. There was impromptu dancing to music played by a live deejay and games of sandbag toss, Ping-Pong, and Jenga on the lush grass.
But the most important part of the day took place underneath the palm trees lining The Quad —SMC’s first-ever HBCU Caravan, a college fair highlighting Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs) from across the country, attended by nearly 500 students.
Twenty HBCUs — including such institutions as Morehouse College, Grambling State University, Virginia State University, Arkansas Baptist College, and Dillard University — sent representatives to California to participate in the HBCU Caravan. The college fair was the culmination of several free events and workshops to promote HBCUs to community college students.
Cree McMath, a biology major at SMC, plans on attending an HBCU. Interacting with the Clark Atlanta University representative was a highlight for McMath, since she plans on attending the university towards her goal of becoming a doctor.
“After these two years [at SMC], I will be ready to head out of state,” she said, adding that with more people at a HBCU who share so much in common, “I would enjoy myself and have fun.”
Janet Robinson, Ed.D., who is SMC’s transfer center faculty leader, said that it is important to ensure that “not just SMC students, but all students at community colleges and high schools, are aware of all their options when it’s time to choose a four-year institution.”
“We are fortunate in California to have amazing public institutions like the UC and CSU systems and a host of private schools, too — these are all great options. But in addition, we have an incredible swath of institutions in our HBCUs,” she said.
Robinson added that because a lot of HBCUs are located elsewhere in the country, the Caravan gives California students an opportunity to learn about the plethora of HBCU options available to them.
The HBCU Caravan, as Robinson points out, is named thus because representatives travel, visiting multiple community colleges in the state. With the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning race as a factor in university admissions, upending affirmative action, Robinson stated that more Black students may consider applying and transferring to HBCUs.
“So, today was a great opportunity for students to interact directly with representatives from these schools,” she added, noting that the event—which was open to the public—attracted students from other community colleges and high schools in the region. The SMC Black Collegians Umoja Community and the SMC Pan African Alliance as well as dozens of volunteers from across campus helped make the event a success.
Ryan Gray, assistant director of admissions and transfer in online operations for Morehouse College, stated this was the first time that Morehouse was participating in the HBCU Caravan.
“We are just so happy to be here today, to represent the HBCUs in a place that doesn’t have many HBCUs. The response from SMC students is touching, and heartfelt,” said Gray.
On why HBCUs are such an important option, he said, “We share our story, and we educate based off of our experiences, along with [that] of society. Just being able to share our stories in places where we can be ourselves . . . is very important.”
For more information on the HBCU events, visit: smc.edu/hbcu. SMC’s Black Collegians Umoja community is designed to assist students of African descent in transferring to four-year universities and obtaining their Associate’s degree. The program offers services to help students become academically competitive and to set personal goals.
The Black Collegians Program is a program within the statewide Umoja Community, sharing strategies with other Umoja Community programs at various California Community Colleges statewide. Learn more at smc.edu/blackcollegians.