ECC holds third annual HBCU Fair

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ECC holds third annual HBCU Fair

Students talk to college representatives from historically black colleges and universities in the Jobe Lounge on Saturday.

Students talk to college representatives from historically black colleges and universities in the Jobe Lounge on Saturday.

Allison Formeller

Students talk to college representatives from historically black colleges and universities in the Jobe Lounge on Saturday.

Allison Formeller

Allison Formeller

Students talk to college representatives from historically black colleges and universities in the Jobe Lounge on Saturday.

Allison Formeller, Staff writer

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Immediately upon walking into the Jobe Lounge on Saturday, you could hear music blaring, and the voices of many students and families talking to college representatives.

The Historically Black Colleges and Universities Fair were held at Elgin Community College on Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019.

The HBCU Fair is an event centered around giving more students the opportunity to plan for their future education. The event has college representatives students can talk to, scholarship resources and information about black fraternities and sororities, as well as a live show and other activities for students to participate in. 

“It’s not just a college fair, it’s also an educational moment because a lot of people haven’t heard of HBCUs,” said Brittany Barber, the event coordinator for the HBCU Fair at ECC. “It’s not something you commonly see at college fairs,”

The event is open to anyone and many students who attended were high school students or attended other colleges.

 In total, about 150 people attended. 

“My friend attends an HBCU, so that’s how I heard about [the event]” said Shamaria Hall, a recent high school graduate looking to attend an HBCU. 

ECC has seen positive trends in students transferring to HBCUs since the fair began three years ago. 

“After looking at the data with Brittany last year, four [students transferring to an HBCU] in one year is actually a decent increase above previous trends,” Dan Vollrath, a part of ECC’s Institutional Research Team said.

Of the four students that transferred to HBCUs, two of them now attend Winston Salem State University, one attends North Carolina A&T State University and the other attends St. Philip’s College, according to Vollrath.

Most schools that were represented reported an uptick in enrollment or applications due to being present at the fair. 

Organizations such as Zeta Phi Beta, a sorority that is a part of the “Divine Nine,” historically African-American fraternities and sororities, have also experienced an increase in enrollment.

However, many organizations said that increased enrollment is not their main goal. 

“[Our goal] is awareness, but also to build future leaders,” said Mariah Studer, a representative of Zeta Phi Beta.

While HBCU fairs are about giving students the opportunities and resources they need to plan for their future, there is also an emphasis on celebrating their culture.

At this year’s HBCU Fair, African-American culture was celebrated with dance. Performers danced to hip-hop songs, and the audience was more than welcome to join in.

“I love celebrating people, I love celebrating and learning about the culture and I love bringing people into my culture,” Barber said. “It becomes this educational, cultural immersion that people have not seen here,”

Despite this fair being about future college plans, the sense that students get of others having an awareness and understanding of their cultural background makes all the difference.

“[HBCU fairs] gives [African-American students] a chance to get to see people like them excelling,” said Nakisha Rutledge, a representative and alumni of Spelman College.

Like any college fair, the HBCU Fair at ECC is focused on helping students move forward and succeed academically. 

“HBCUs are historically black, not only black… everyone is welcome, and has always been welcome,” Barber said. “We can come together, celebrate together and move forward academically together.”