College Fair Offers Black Students Help, Hope
Byline: Adrienne T. Washington, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
On the way to the Alfred Street Baptist Church in Alexandria on Saturday morning, my nervous goddaughter, Jasmine, armed with a folder full of documents, said, "If I can just get one, it will make my day."
Well, six hours later, she did better than one and made my day as well.
"One" would have been a coveted "on-site" admission to a four-year college, but Jasmine, a senior at T.C. Williams High School, was granted immediate acceptance to two universities and received conditional admittance to two.
"It's a good feeling to be accepted face to face, on the spot," she said on the relaxed return trip.
Now, she knows she has educational options in her future. So many children don't.
Jasmine, 17, was one of about 250 students who were admitted to historically black colleges and universities as part of the growing annual Alfred Street Baptist Church College Festival, representing 40 historically black colleges and universities.
"This is a passion for me ... figuring out how [to organize the fair] and trying to get these children into school," said Vance F. Davis, who organized the college fair at the church starting six years ago.
Even better, about 50 students received scholarships ranging from $500 to $10,000 from Fisk, Grambling State, Tuskegee and Lincoln universities, and the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. Most schools waived admission fees for the estimated 700 participants.
"This was a great opportunity for students, and it was much easier than filling out the forms from the packets or online," said Jasmine, smiling.
Her relief came after navigating through the crowded rooms and corridors in the three-story church filled with colorful pennants and pompoms, slick literature, greeting tables lined with small gifts, an armful of applications and countless college recruiters, some dressed in their school sweatshirts and apparel.
What a welcome sight. Bad news about teens and young adults, especially struggling black students, abounds, so seeing so many who were obviously serious about their education was uplifting.
Some of the boys were in suits and the girls in heels; many carried portfolios and briefcases. The majority, like Jasmine, had parents, mentors, guardians or guidance counselors in tow.
Korey Jackson, 17, a student at Cardozo Senior High School in the District, said more students would have attended the fair had they known about it. A friend told him, and he was able to collect information and talk with recruiters even without all his necessary papers in hand. "I don't have to go around and find the information on my own," he said.
Several of his friends received acceptances, including Tina Marie Robinson, 17, a senior at Duke Ellington School for the Arts in the District. …