Empower Me Tour came to Convention Center on Sept. 22
It’s not too often that students get college-acceptance offers minutes after meeting a college counselor.
But that’s exactly what happened for some students at the Empower Me Tour on Sept. 22 at the Convention Center.
Representatives from 19 historically black colleges and universities were on hand at the traveling college-and-career-readiness roadshow, hosted by the United Negro College Fund. Those counselors reviewed students’ transcripts and resumes and offered some admission and scholarships on the spot.
More than 960 students, mostly students of color, attended the event, including students from all of Minneapolis Public Schools’ comprehensive high schools. The tour featured talks on preparing for college, maximizing high school and panel discussions that included the vice president of diversity and inclusion at Target and Metro Transit Police Chief John Harrington.
The event concluded with UNCF awarding a handful of $5,000 scholarships to students, to be used at any school of their choosing.
Organizers said the event helped reinforce the notion that students of color can get into and through college. MPS staff said it was a good opportunity for students to hear from people of color who have had professional success.
“They got to see success that looks like them,” said Terry Henry, executive director of Minneapolis Public Schools’ Department of College and Career Readiness “(That) has been the pivotal focus for Minneapolis Public Schools.”
Students of color are less likely to graduate high school than white students, according to Minnesota Department of Education data. They’re also less likely to enroll in college.
Southwest 12th-grader Amina Hassan said a lot of kids of color end up going to community college. She said she hopes that more can go to four-year schools and added that HBCUs aren’t just for black students.
“It’s just amazing to have that support coming,” said Tatiana Jara-Pacheco, a Southwest 12th-grader who was awarded a $5,000 Target scholarship.
UNCF Vice President of National Development Paulette Jackson said the aim of the tour is to get kids excited about college and get them in front of HBCUs, most of which are in the South. UNCF started the tour in 2008, in conjunction with efforts to provide operating support to HBCUs and financial assistance to students.
Many HBCUs are more affordable and smaller than other universities, Jackson said. That could give students an opportunity to be more involved in activities and closer with their professors, she added.
Students appeared to appreciate the chance to learn about HBCUs. South High School 12th-grader Kayla Arnold said the event made her more excited to go to college, while her classmate Samantha Sander said she could tell a difference in energy between an HBCU college fair and a regular one.
Twelfth-grader Aymaiya Martin said her favorite speaker was a business woman who was part of a panel discussion entitled “My Black is Beautiful: The Talk.”
“It’s nice to hear people you can relate to,” 12th-grader Antanajsha Brown added.
Patrick Henry High School 10th-graders Glentrel Carter and Mark Campbell said the event was helpful in getting them in front of HBCUs and allowing them to learn about scholarship options.
The pair goes on a HBCU tour every spring break with the MPS’ Office of Black Male Student Achievement. People get accepted into the colleges on the spot half of the time when they go on the tour, Carter said.
Campbell said he wants to go to an HBCU after high school, noting encouragement by his family. He said events like this show students there are more opportunities to get into college beyond athletics.
Visit https://uncf.org/programs/empower-me-tour to learn more.