By Jerome Wong
Riverside City College took 27 students on the 5th annual Historically Black College and Universities tour to Washington DC, Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania from Oct. 8-12.
The students visited Howard University, Lincoln University, Bowie State University, Hampton University and Norfolk State University over the course of five days sponsored by the RCC Student Equity program which deals with the inequalities that RCC students face. Many students that attended the field trip are in the UJIMA club.
Kristi Woods, dean of instruction, alongside of RCC counseling faculty member Micheal Love chaperoned UJIMA students.
UJIMA is a program that offers learning communities and a club that offers opportunities and support for ECC students to achieve their academic goals similar to the purpose of HBCUs.
“I expected to see students and faculty like me but the experience surpassed my expectations because just as current (HBCU) students said HBCUs open doors for us. For example Norfolk waived the application and essay requirement and the other campuses were so welcoming and you can tell they were willing to do anything on their end to ensure we are able to reach that next level in our educational journey,” UJIMA vice president Roryana Bowman said.
Students from different ethnicities are in UJIMA so the club isn’t exclusively for Black people. This is also represented at the HBCUs where folks from all walks of life are there. According to the National Center For Education Statistics, “ in 2017, non-Black students made up 24% of enrollment at HBCUs, compared with 15% in 1976.”
“I just really wanted to see the environment of the school up close and see what there is to offer traveling to the east coast. You could see yourselves there more when you’re physically there apart from other schools,” RCC student Garnett Smith III said. “I just visited UC Merced this past weekend and it was empty because it was the weekend, dry, and in the middle of nowhere. I felt more welcome at the other HBCUs because they were more welcoming which was nice.”
“This is a fantastic opportunity for our exceptional equity students to be able to explore the possibility of attending an HBCU. BUCUs produce a significant number of the African American college graduates and students who attend professional graduate programs and who subsequently enter the professions such as business, education, law, medicine, engineering and dentistry,” Woods wrote in a letter to staff.