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Friday, August 14, 2020

Educational tours provide visits to historically Black universities

Students will have the opportunity to explore and discover historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) on an all-expense-paid trip from April 2-7.

Participants will visit eight schools during the six days and five nights. Expenses paid include hotel stay, food and airfare. Dillard University, Xavier University, Southern University at Baton Rouge and Tougaloo College are four of the schools students will visit.

Educational Student Tours (EST), better known as Black College Tours, offer the experience through their program. The event is funded by the state, although funds for the program are slowly diminishing, according to Yasmin Delahoussaye, a former Pierce counselor and a director at EST.

“What I love about this program is that students get the chance to explore more opportunities that they didn’t know they had,” Delahoussaye said.

The trips are offered to about 10 campuses at a time as resources allow.

According to Delahoussaye, these trips allow students to be exposed to schools outside their horizons, which can be a benefit for some students in advancing their education.

Delahoussaye created this program after a student walked into her office and said she wanted to graduate from a HBCU.

After administrative careers at community colleges, and culminating as a college president, Delahoussaye began working with her husband to increase the number of African-American students who enroll in, and graduate from, a historically black college or university.

“It’s a great opportunity. I wish they would have started it earlier, because I know a lot of people who could have benefited from knowing this existed,” first-year student Chevon Luis said.

Delahoussaye said she believes the HBCU system has a lot to benefit students and shares with prospects a story from one of her former students.

“The student came to her senior year and she got sick. She couldn’t leave her bed, so her professors brought her work to her so she could graduate on time,” Delahoussaye said.

There are 10 available slots for students to apply to the program. All of the applications go through Melody Smith, Pierce’s UJOMA (which means the Kwanzaa principle of unity) counselor. Smith said that the first round of picks will be selected by how applicants answered the questionnaire, and the final 10 will be selected after a lengthy interview process.

“This is super interesting and brought me clarity in understanding the trip. I really want to go and this was very informative. I hope to get selected,” sophomore Ekeme Ekanem said.

All’s not lost for students who do not make the trip this time. Smith said that as the new UJOMA program begins this summer at Pierce, there may be more opportunities for other trips and programs that students can apply for and participate in.

“Opportunity, when it knocks, you have to be ready,” Delahoussaye said.

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