HBCU graduates hold panel at SJ

Written by Cullen Avent ’23,, Christian Heaven ’23, Carver Hix ’25, Jason Lin ’24, Daniel McCord ’24, Sebastian Mendez ’24, and Elliot Smythe ’24

Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are institutions of higher learning with the mission of advancing the futures of African American students. These schools have students from other backgrounds, including international students, but were established mainly to educate black Americans. 

On October 17, five graduates from HBCUs shared their college experience, including their transition from their high schools to college and their lives after college. The meeting was organized by Strake Jesuit’s Black Student Union.

The speakers included young professionals Alex Moorer ‘11, a minister and political consultant and graduate of Morehouse College; Ricardo Watson ‘11, a sales manager and real estate investor and graduate of Hampton University; Obinna Ezeji ‘11, a dentist and graduate of Howard University; Taylor McBride SAA ‘11, a pharmacist and graduate of Xavier University in New Orleans; and Giovanna Boyd, a businesswoman and graduate of Spelman College.

One topic the panel discussed was their transition from high school to college and why the students sought an HBCU for higher education. 

“I loved Strake Jesuit,” Alex Moorer said. “After four years of one environment, I wanted to make a change, be around people that had a similar sort of background.”

Similarly, Ricardo Waston said, “I had great high school experience, but applying from a private Catholic school I wanted to change the environment a little. I tried to get a balance to be around people that looked like me in college.”

Taylor McBride said she was attracted to Xavier University because of its pharmacy program and because it is an HBCU and a Cathoic institution.

The panelists spoke highly about campus life at their HBCU institutions.

“I really loved that the staff were black women, professors were black women, the president was a black woman, the cafeteria staff were black women,” Giovanna Boyd said. “I felt like I had a family immediately when I got there. You know it’s going to be an environment that cultivates your specific needs.” 

Including financial need, the panelists explained.

“Contrary to popular belief,” Alex Moorer said, “HBCUs do give lots of scholarship money.” The other panelists agreed with him. 

Another point of agreement is that HBCUs offer a great social experience, including Greek life. 

“Homecoming weekend was insane,” Alex Moorer said, adding that the festivities began on Wednesday. “The music started playing at noon. The food was great. It was a challenge balancing work and Greek life.”

The panelists agreed that the academic programs at their institutions were rigorous, fostering healthy competition, and also emphasized that the tight-knit communities at HBCUs build great professional development opportunities for students with alumni.

“You get to meet so many people from different places,” Obinna Ezeji said. “Having that network paved the way for me to get to my professional school. At the end of the day, you are left with people you know and connections you have made to further your career.”

Similarly, Alex Moorer said, Fortune 500 companies, consulting firms, big banks, Wall Street investment firms, and Silicon Valley companies all recruit aggressively at HBCUs. “We sent more black men to Ivy grad programs than Harvard,” he added. “Moorehouse is a great path to law school, med school, and an Ivy grad school. HBCUs build you up in ways you wouldn’t be as a black man or woman elsewhere.”