By Lil Nickelson – Harlem Community Newspapers
On Monday, May 14th, 2018 Columbia University’s School of Professional Studies hosted a breakfast at its Faculty House to celebrate the 22 Columbia University graduates who were in the inaugural group of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) graduates to obtain their master’s degree from Columbia University. Jason Wingard, Dean of the School of Professional Studies conceived, developed and executed this fellowship program to create more career opportunities for Black students with the goal of boosting diversity in the corporate world.
Aiming to “be a bridge for talented graduates of HBCU and the Fortune 500 companies looking to employ them,” the ivy league institution started offering the HBCU fellowship this past summer. HBCU undergraduate seniors at partnering schools who were selected received: full tuition, housing in New York City, internship assistance (contingent on maintaining a 3.0 GPA or better in the master’s program), an industry mentor and career coaching and guidance, all while having access to extensive Columbia alumni network and planned activities throughout NYC. The Fellows also did community service as part of the program. By creating this pipeline of motivated students for Columbia’s corporate partners, Dean Wingard believed it would foster long lasting relationships between the two and make corporate opportunities more accessible to high-achieving Black students.
Master’s degrees were available in the following concentrations – Applied Analytics, Bioethics, Construction Administration, Enterprise Risk Management, Nonprofit Management, Sports Management and Strategic Communication. The following twenty-two fellows graduating are from the HBCU schools listed along with their respective master’s degree concentration:
- Kwame Baab – University of the District of Columbia, Construction Administration
- Sydney Bland -Hampton University, Strategic Communication
- Nicole Cabell – Howard University, Applied Analytics
- Aniah Coley – Delaware State University, Nonprofit Management
- Dayana Delgado – University of the District of Columbia, Applied Analytics
- Lauren Fleming – Spelman College, Nonprofit Management
- Samaria Haysbert – Hampton University, Nonprofit Management
- Courtney Johnson – Tennessee State University, Construction Administration
- Krista Labelle – Florida A & M University, Bioethics
- Kayla Lattimore – Tuskegee University, Enterprise Risk Management
- Evan Lawson -Howard University, Strategic Communication
- Brahim Sidi M’Hamed – University of the District of Columbia, Construction Administration
- Ernest Mengoni – Delaware State University, Applied Analytics
- Kyara Murry – Tennessee State University, Nonprofit Management
- Suraj Narain – University of the District of Columbia, Construction Administration
- Eric Prigden – Winston-Salem State University, Applied Analytics
- Jeremey Shropshire – Xavier University of Louisiana, Bioethics
- Lauren Smith – Xavier University of Louisiana, Strategic Communication
- Blake Stoner- Morehouse College, Strategic Communication
- Thibault Twahirwa – Morehouse College, Applied Analytics
- Audtrell Williams – Morehouse College, Enterprise Risk Management
Dean Wingard in his remarks left the graduates with three points:
- Network – please engage and extend your relationships.
- Acknowledge that diversity does exist and advancing your careers will be difficult, but I encourage you to leverage those networks you will develop.
- Be agents of change; you are the first now go forth.
Dr. Harry L. Williams, the President and CEO of Thurgood Marshall College Fund and the program’s keynote speaker left the graduates with three points also:
- Set yourself some really high goals and be razor-focus in pursuing them. Take advantage of opportunities that come your way.
- Be extremely positive and optimistic and surround yourself with like-minded people. On your journey you may achieve a lot but stay humble and be approachable. Never forget your family and friends.
- Remember that someone is watching you and your walk.