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'It prepares you for the world': What are HBCUs and why they matter

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Posted at 10:23 AM, Apr 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-10 08:30:46-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) give students a place to embrace scholarship, culture, and history. There are more than 100 HBCUs to choose from and all of them can open the door to a tradition of excellence.

HBCUs have been instrumental in helping first-generation college students reach heights they may not otherwise have access to due to financial limitations.

"I went to an HBCU because I wanted to be embraced, I didn't want to be a number,” said Ashley Maclin.

She says it’s the complete experience that makes choosing an HBCU worthwhile.

“I love my school. I am a graduate of the Norfolk State University,” said Maclin.

"I went to the University of Arkansas Pine Bluff,” said Tremayne Horne.

"I went to the mecca — Howard University in Washington D.C.,” said Arionne Williams.

There's an instant connection among HBCU graduates; a connection and network that extends far beyond graduation.

“It prepares you for the world. That’s part of the reason I went to an HBCU. I have my whole life to be a minority. At least for these few years, I can be a part of something that was created for me when we weren't allowed to go to other schools because of the color of our skin,” said Maclin.

Now you can catch Ashley Maclin, also known as Ashmac, on the radio in Indianapolis, but for her, choosing an HBCU was about continuing the tradition her grandparents started.

“They are invested in your growth to see who you blossom into,” said Maclin.

As for blossoming, Williams and Horne now work for the University of Indianapolis and it's their HBCU skillset that has helped them to soar. But they say excellence is the expectation when you choose an HBCU.

“Vice President Kamala Harris who graduated from Howard, Thurgood Marshall, Debbie Allen or Phylicia Rashad — the list of successful HBCU graduates goes on and on,” said Williams

High school visit days are available at most HBCU campuses.

WRTV's Troy Washington attended Prairie View A&M University in Texas.

In the 30-plus years of its existence, the Indianapolis Alumnae Chapter (IAC) of Delta Sigma Theta has taken over 1,424 high school students on campus tours of over 30 Historically Black Colleges and Universities. If you have questions about IAC’s “Signature” Educational Program, Black College Tour, please contact Lakisha Byrd and LaKeisha Williams at bct2@dstiac.org.

Another resource is Indianapolis Black Alumni Council. For a full list of HBCUs click here.