Students hear from alumni in first HBCU college fair



Alumni from Historically Black College and Universities shared their experiences in college after graduating from the high school in a panel on Nov. 17.

Students gathered in the high school’s MLK Room on Nov. 17 at 6 p.m. to learn about alumni’s experiences at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) at the first ever HBCU college panel.

Alumni from the high school, including Nia Cawthorne ‘14, recent graduate of Bennett College,Kaylah Mack ‘17, recent graduate of Spelman College and Kerimel Suriel ‘16, recent graduate of Howard University spoke about their transition from the high school into college. Specifically, they focused on the differences in environments between the two institutions via a panel where METCO Coordinator Malcolm Cawthorne and audience members asked questions.

Malcolm Cawthorne, also an alumnus, said the high school provided much less support in helping students look for HBCUs when he was a student.

“We certainly didn’t have this when I was here and it shows a lot about who we want to become,” Malcolm Cawthorne said.

All three panelists said the African American and Latino Scholars Program (AALSP) encouraged them to look into HBCUs while researching higher education options, which ultimately influenced their decision to enroll in one of these institutions. They also said AALSP’s assistance with their college application process was very helpful.

Mack said having staff in the AALSP who attended HBCUs pushed her to consider attending one herself.

Suriel said, in college, she found many of her peers had received far less comprehensive education and that she was well-prepared for college education from the high school.

“Trust me, BHS is providing you with a really great education. In HBCUs, you get people from all over the country. We’ve had the chance to have a Brookline public education and that alone put me above the curve,” Suriel said.

Nia Cawthorne said participating in School Within a School (SWS) specifically helped with her transition to Bennett College because of its small student population.

As Bennett College and Spelman College are both all-female, Nia Cawthorne and Mack said they appreciated the supportive environment they found themselves in at their HBCUs.

“It was exciting to be around so many women of color and it was good to be around my own people: not only women, but black women who were all striving for the same thing,” Mack said.

Suriel said after her departure from the high school, she was glad to meet an embracing community at Howard University.

“It was a culture shock. It was a nice culture shock where you finally felt comfortable and truly welcomed somewhere so I think for me it was a good, exciting transition,” Suriel said.