April 18, 2024

By the Arkansas Delta Informer Staff — The Biden administration recently recognized nearly 90 scholars from Historically Black Colleges and Universities for their academic accomplishments, leadership, civic engagement and other endeavors, including two with Arkansas ties.

On June 10, the White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity through Historically Black Colleges and Universities announced its ninth cohort of HBCU Scholars, recognizing 86 undergraduate, graduate, and professional students for their accomplishments in academics, leadership, civic engagement and much more.

Currently enrolled at 56 of the nation’s HBCU’s, the scholars were selected from a competitive pool of over 350 students. Applications also required the signature of their HBCU president or designated faculty, adding a level of prestige to this application process. Marla McGhee of Conway, who attends North Carolina Central University in Durham, N.C., and Jason Muka of Little Rock, a student at Philander Smith College, were among the students that are a part of the 2020 cohort.

“The HBCU Scholars announced today have dedicated themselves to their learning and exemplify the talent that our nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities have nurtured for generations,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “The Biden-Harris administration is committed to supporting these leaders and I cannot wait to learn from them while they serve as ambassadors for the White House Initiative and their institutions.”

Over the course of an academic school year, HBCU Scholars will serve as ambassadors of the White House Initiative on HBCUs. They will be offered training and cross-university networking opportunities. Scholars will also have an opportunity to work on issues specifically related to the HBCU community and participate in national and regional events with professionals from a wide range of disciplines.

“As an HBCU graduate I’m honored to announce our HBCU Scholars, our future leaders of tomorrow. At HBCU’s we are a family, we build each other up and we’re taught that we can do and be anything,” said Dietra Trent, Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence and Economic Opportunity through HBCU’s. “I look forward to supporting the growth of our HBCU family through the Scholar Recognition Program.”

A key feature of the HBCU Scholar Program is a partnership with NASA to foster innovation and opportunity for the cohorts. This partnership with NASA makes the Minority University Research and Education Project (MUREP) Innovation Tech Transfer Idea Competition (MITTIC), “Mini MITTIC” part of the HBCU Scholar Program. Through the Mini MITTIC program, students will partner in developing ideas to commercialize technology derived from NASA intellectual property. Scholars will have the opportunity to present their IP ideas during the National HBCU Week Conference in September.

“The goal with Mini MITTIC is to provide the HBCU Scholars with an authentic experience while ensuring they leave with the foundational tools to utilize NASA intellectual property to create their own business concept and participate in the full MITTIC competition,” said Misti Moore, NASA’s Johnson Space Center MUREP Lead & MITTIC Activity Manager.

HBCU Scholars will also be invited to the 2022 HBCU Week National Annual Conference, on September 20-23 in Washington, D.C. During the conference, they will participate in sessions designed to engage a spirit of entrepreneurship, innovation, and personal and professional development. Most importantly, scholars will have opportunities to engage with one another and showcase their individual and collective talent.

“As an HBCU Scholar I was able to connect with leaders and meet professionals from various sectors including government, the NFL and entertainment industry,” said Paige Blake, 2022 HBCU Scholar, Bowie State University. “The professional development skills I gained through the Scholar Program provided me with tools to navigate well beyond my academic career and I now proudly serve on the President’s Board of Advisors on HBCU’s.”

Program events are designed to enhance HBCU Scholars professional development and create post-graduation opportunities with nonprofits business, and federal agencies to ensure that as a nation we remain globally competitive.

More information about the 86 HBCU Scholars’ activities will be provided in the coming months as they serve as ambassadors of the White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity through Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

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