White House Initiative on HBCU’s Welcome 5th Cohort of HBCU Students To Annual Ambassador Program


Man, when I tell you time flies by! Just this time last year I was overthinking about my first time flying. I’d just learned that I was an HBCU All-Star a month before and school had started. I’d also just found out that I’d be working with the Tom Joyner Foundation as a Gameday Ambassador for the FVSU Football team. It’s safe to say it was an amazing time in my life last year. However, the only thing I could think about was my trip to Washington. What did the HBCU All-Star program hold for me? Would everyone in the GroupMe be as nice in person? The most important thing I was wondering was if I have to meet Donald Trump and be forced to take a picture with him. I was already prepared to mean mug so hard I’d put Kodak Black and all the Migos to shame (although we saw Omarosa and Betsy Devos, we didn’t see him).

Now, I’m sitting here a year later looking at a new class of HBCU students that have been accepted into the program coordinated by the White House Initiative on HBCU’s. These HBCU students, now called Scholars for HBCU Competitiveness, have been chosen to represent their institutions and HBCU’s on the national scale. They also are charged with bringing information and opportunities from the private sector back to their schools. The U.S. Department of Education website states:

In the course of their one-year term, Competitiveness Scholars will learn and share proven and promising practices that support individual and HBCU competitiveness, with the goal of strengthening prospects for career and life success.

Competitiveness Scholars will assemble September 16-18 at the 2018 National HBCU Week Conference held at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, in Washington, D.C. During this national convening – the theme of which is HBCU Competitiveness: Aligning Institutional Missions with America’s Priorities – they will participate in workshops designed to improve leadership, encourage ongoing personal and professional development and discover areas of innovation and entrepreneurship. As the embodiment of unique competitive advantages HBCUs provide students, Competitiveness Scholars are afforded opportunities to highlight their exceptional contributions to institutions, ignite new passions and explore ideas critical to lifelong growth and development.

Competitiveness Scholars are recognized for the 2018-2019 academic school year. Throughout this period, the Initiative will provide outreach and engagement activities, as well as information and resources that can be disseminated to fellow students. They are expected to fully take advantage of the opportunities provided, engage with one another and showcase individual and collective talents across the HBCU spectrum.

Competitiveness Scholars will receive their recognition during the conference on the evening of September 17, at the Initiative’s Excellence in Innovation and Competitiveness Awards.


I can personally vouch for the program and how it’s an amazing, life-changing opportunity for HBCU Students! I got to meet 62 of my amazing peers from other universities, making a lifelong friend in the current Miss FAMU Imani Cooper, We were afforded amazing opportunities such as exclusive internships like my internship with ASPiRE TV this past summer. I got a chance to travel to two HBCUS (Southern University & FAMU) and not be a complete stranger! I was able to use my initiative of Engagement and Communication to bring Jake Allen, Miles Stroter and Sergio Joachim from the BET show The Quad on campus and even launched this website to facilitate in better communication on my campus. And, most important of all, I grew as a man.


I wish the new HBCU Scholars the same success, fun and growth that I experienced this past year. HBCU Pulse will be a place where positive news about the Initiative will be broadcasted. And, if any of the new cohort is listening, you have an ally in me! Feel free to reach out to me on social media @authorrandallb or at my email [email protected]. I’m excited to see what the new members of the All-Star family accomplish!

Here are the students a part of the new cohort of Scholars of HBCU Competiveness! Big shout out to Adelia McKinny, the new Scholar for my HBCU Fort Valley State University!


Birmingham- Erin Black, Fisk University, Nashville, Tennessee
Demopolis- Caleb Washington, Tuskegee University, Tuskegee, Alabama
Selma- Terrance Platt, Tuskegee University, Tuskegee, Alabama

Harare, Zimbabwe- Basil Masaisai, Wiley College, Marshall, Texas
Little Rock- Kevontae Carter, Philander Smith College, Little Rock, Arkansas

Nassau- Bercario Bodie, Saint Augustine’s University, Raleigh, North Carolina

Long Beach- Akili Smith, Bowie State University, Bowie, Maryland

Tallahassee- Devin Harrison, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, Tallahassee, Florida
West Palm Beach- Zakiaya Telfort, Alabama State University, Montgomery, Alabama

Augusta- D’Ariel Walker, Voorhees College, Demark, South Carolina
Austell- De’Janae Tookes, Jarvis Christian College, Hawking, Texas
Fairburn- Antonio McMillian Jr., Savannah State University, Savannah, Georgia
Riverdale- Adelia McKinley, Fort Valley State University, Fort Valley, Georgia
Stockbridge- Serena Hughley, Spelman College, Atlanta, Georgia

Chicago- Faron Rush, Grambling State University, Grambling, Louisiana
Chicago- Sade Shofidiya, Savannah State University, Savannah, Georgia
Chicago- Philip Thompson, Talladega College, Talladega, Alabama

Louisville- Jallen Leavell, Tennessee State University, Nashville, Tennessee

Baton Rouge- Oscar McClain, Southern University Agricultural and Mechanical College, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Lafayette- Thea Celestine, Morgan State University, Baltimore, Maryland
Lafayette- Justin Edwards, Howard University, Washington, District of Columbia
Monroe- Jimmie Herring, Southern University Law School, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
New Orleans- Brianna Golden, Southern University Law School, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
New Orleans- Chevel Powell, Dillard University, New Orleans, Louisiana

Edwards- Hezekiah Williams, Hinds Community College-Utica, Raymond, Mississippi
Gulfport- Reagon Johnson, Tugaloo College, Tugaloo, Mississippi
Pearl- Jamireia Hampton, Mississippi Valley State University, Itta Beta, Mississippi

Florissant- Kamron Robinson, Morehouse School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia
Kansas City- Michael Weaver, Kentucky State University, Frankfort, Kentucky
Saint Louis-Reid Chunn, Harris-Stowe State University, St. Louis, Missouri

Las Vegas- Erinn Williams, Wilberforce University, Wilberforce, Ohio

Concord- Ijemdinma Ozodigwe, Winston-Salem State University, Winston Salem, North Carolina
Denver- Torey Haynes, Shaw University, Raleigh, North Carolina
Elizabeth City- Rachel Sutton, Hampton University, Hampton, Virginia
Elizabeth City- Briana Rountree, Elizabeth City State University, Elizabeth City, North Carolina
Greensboro- Erykah Briggs-White, Fayetteville State University, Fayetteville, North Carolina
Hunterville- Kailyn Price, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical University, Greensboro, North Carolina
Newton- Chelsea Powell, Winston-Salem State University, Winston Salem, North Carolina

Cincinnati- Daniel Lee, Central State University, Wilberforce, Ohio

Tulsa- Michael Ware, Jackson State University, Jackson, Mississippi
Tulsa- Myshal Morris, Langston University, Langston, Oklahoma

Philadelphia- Jabir McKnight, Lincoln University of Pennsylvania, Lincoln University, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia- Jameerah Ali, North Carolina Central University, Durham, North Carolina

Abbeville- Deandre Hurley, South Carolina State University, Orangeburg, South Carolina
Greenville- Kourtney Smith-North Carolina Agricultural and Technical University, Greensboro, North Carolina
Mount Pleasant- Raekwon McFadden, Morris College, Sumter, South Carolina
Orangeburg- David King, Clark Atlanta University, Atlanta, Georgia
Spartanburg- Jordan Rice-Woodruff, Benedict College, Columbia, South Carolina
Spartanburg- Sabrena Brink, Claflin University, Orangeburg, South Carolina

Nashville- Tyler Binion, Bennett College, Greensboro, North Carolina
Memphis- Irah Gates, Rust College, Holly Springs, Mississippi

Beaumont- Nneka Ede, Prairie View Agricultural and Mechanical University, Prairie View, Texas
Houston-Cydney Stevenson, Xavier University of Louisiana, New Orleans, Louisiana
Houston- Opara Elizabeth, Texas Southern University, Houston, Texas
Houston- Viesha Gedfrey-Phelps, Texas Southern University, Houston, Texas
San Antonio- Alicia Perry, St. Philips College, San Antonio, Texas
Spring- Maduforo Eze, Prairie View Agricultural and Mechanical University, Prairie View, Texas


Alexandria- Mona Lisa Paulk, Livingstone College, Salisbury, North Carolina
Hampton- Jose Thomas, Hampton University, Hampton, Virginia
Richmond- DeVon Jackson, Virginia State University, Petersburg, Virginia
Vicksburg- Lisa Johnson, Jackson State University, Jackson, Mississippi

Belle- Edgar Lopez-Torres, West Virginia State University, Institute, West Virginia
Bluefield- Robert Brown, Bluefield State University, Bluefield, West Virginia



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