INDIANAPOLIS — Pike High School used to struggle get students to go to college. Now, 78% of their graduates go on to become college graduates.
A program started in 2006 by Dr. Ruth Woods that steers students to historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) is one reason for that success.
"We knew we had a job to do because we didn't have a lot of students going to college," Woods said. "Our numbers are just something to be proud of."
Woods said finding scholarships, putting students on the path to affordable education and steering them toward success still gives her a rush.
The program has opened doors to numerous current and former Pike students they did not know existed.
"I did not grow up learning about HBCUs," Isaiah Martin, a senior at Pike, said. "My mother went to a PWI. It's not really talked about in my family."
When Martin says PWI, he is referring to predominately white institutions, a term used to describe colleges and universities that are not mostly made up of minority students.
"I did my research based off my major, which a lot of people may go off historical significance, which is cool, but I personally want to go somewhere where I think I would succeed the most and come out with the least amount of student debt," he said.
For Martin, choosing Norfolk State University out of the dozens of HBCUs to pick from was a no-brainer. He looked at affordability and which program would best guide him towards career success.
"The plan is to major in chemistry and to go to med school, hopefully at Howard University to become a psychiatrist," Martin said.
For each student, the story is different. Anaiya Smith said HBCUs started to pique her interest early at Pike.
"They were not first on my list because I didn't have many people in my family that have gone to an HBCU," she said. "About sophomore year, I really got inspired to look into HBCUs."
And that's when she found the perfect fit.
"I will be attending the illustrious Howard University majoring in music therapy with a vocal concentration," Smith said.
She said she is starting a legacy in her family since many of her relatives had never considered HBCUs since there are not any in Indiana, but she's changing that.
"That know in-state schools, but they don't know too much about out-of-state or HBCUs," Smith said. "It's something that's praised, but not mentioned. I have my godsister. She's a freshman in high school right now, and she's looking into Howard as well."
Here's why Pike chooses to focus on HBCUs.
They said it's because there are a lot of scholarships out there, which are crucial for first-generation college students. They are more affordable, and the historical value and experience of attending an HBCU are also important to students.
At the end of the day, it's helping students blaze a trail of success and leaders at Pike said it's a proven method.