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HBCU Students go Toe to Toe in National Academic Tournament
By Shannen Hill, Contributing Writer
Published April 7, 2016

Honda gives HBCU student a chance to compete with their brains for scholarship money.

Students from Florida A&M University compete to win Honda's Campus All Star Challenge. (Courtesy photo)

Students from Florida A&M University compete to win Honda’s Campus All Star Challenge. (Courtesy photo)

American Honda hosted it’s 27th annual Campus All-Star Challenge, where students from Historically Black Colleges across the country battled it out with their brains answering a series of trivia questions on Monday, April 4, at Honda’s Torrance headquarters.

The best and the brightest of HBCU students study all year long with their teammates for the chance to win grants for their school. Since 1989, more than 100,000 students have competed and more than $7.5 million has been awarded to the schools for books, tuition scholarships, facility upgrades and other investments.

“These games are intense, fun and challenging. It really made learning fun for me because it wasn’t always that fun,” said Gary Knight, a senior at Benedict College. “Everybody that you meet here cares about academics and they care about your future and are willing to put time and work into something that’s very difficult.”

Each team is allowed to have three teammates on stage at a time. They are then given four categories to choose from and must answer as many questions as they can for points. Teams can also steal the question if the team whose turn it is takes too long to answer.

“It’s like a mix of Family Feud and Jeopardy,” said Mark Stepney, who has been a part of the games for 15 years, first as a competitor and currently as a volunteer. “The categories can range from pop culture to Black history to science to religion.”

Many of the students look forward to this event every year because it gives them a chance to showcase their brain power in a society that usually televises more physical competitions.

“Naturally we support athletics a lot and this is a competition that really allows different academians to get shine time and also compete and put their brains together,” said Bryan Womack, a senior at Alabama State University. “It challenges people to learn more and know more about culture and a bunch of different subjects.”

HCASC also has a mission to create friends and connections for life. It is one of the reasons why they have the tournament on a corporate campus.

“If you haven’t been, it’s just amazing. It’s so exciting to see the HBCU students that come and how quick they are and their energy, it’s just amazing,” said Alexandra Warnier, manager of corporate social responsibility at American Honda. “We really wanted to connect the students to corporate headquarters so that they can see what it’s all about and as well for our associates and our executives so they can see the HBCU students.”

Florida A&M University took home the trophy, making this the eighth time that FAMU has won in the history of HCASC. The teammates recalled previous years when they had lost and how instead of getting them down, it made them want to learn more and grow their knowledge. Many of the students have a strong appreciation for how this tournament has helped them grow and break out of their shell.

“Without HCASC, all I would know is science. I would’ve dug a hole and just stayed in that hole,” said Dominique Berry, a senior at Florida A&M University. “HCASC has made me read things that I never thought I would’ve read and it’s made me more of a worldly person. I think that’s going to help me a lot in life.”

Honda has this type of initiative because they feel that HBCU’s play a critical role in education. They also present the Honda HBCU Battle of the Bands every year for schools to win scholarships. For more information about how you can get involved, visit www.hcacs.com.

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