The news site of Evanston Township High School's student newspaper

The Evanstonian

The news site of Evanston Township High School's student newspaper

The Evanstonian

The news site of Evanston Township High School's student newspaper

The Evanstonian

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HBCU Experience Day features bestselling authors, sessions on college experiences

On Thursday, Dec. 14, ETHS hosted its HBCU Experience Day, where school staff worked with the Evanston Black Advocacy Network as well as the bestselling authors of ‘The Black Family’s Guide to College Admissions,’ Shereem Herndon-Brown and Timothy Fields.

HBCUs, or historically Black colleges and universities, were established in the early 19th century as a way to provide education for Black Americans, as public and private institutions of higher education often did not accept Black students in that era. As more legislation passed that criminalized racial discrimination in the admissions process and normalized the admittance of Black students to predominantly white institutions (PWIs), HBCUs have come to represent a place where students of African descent can come to be a part of the majority and see themselves reflected in their education.

“The biggest benefit [HBCUs] provide is an opportunity where students can be around people who are similar to them, where they are not an ‘other.’ I think there is something to be said about the empowerment and the self-confidence of being in environments where you can belong,” Fields said.

Both Fields and Herndon-Brown have worked in higher-education spaces for over 25 years, and after witnessing discrimination and a lack of resources for Black families, decided to write a book helping guide families through the process of working toward post-secondary education.

“The U.S. has had a long history of racial encounters, and I think that a lot of people thought that we were past racial segregation, but in 2020 it really came to light that we still had a lot of issues surrounding race,” Fields said. 

As a school with a Black population of over 20 percent, ETHS Student Services thought it essential to highlight often-overlooked HBCUs as students go through their post-high school planning process. 

“When I first started as a counselor, my students didn’t know what [HBCUs] were, especially Black kids,” ETHS counselor Alana Amaker said. “We need to make kids aware of HBCUs as an option; our school does a good job promoting colleges, but particularly PWIs.”

Amaker helped conduct ETHS’ first-ever HBCU panel ten years ago, after seeing disparities in the colleges and universities ETHS students were educated about. What was originally a panel that allowed staff and families to communicate about HBCUs and other higher education opportunities for Black students has grown into a day-long, school-wide event with sessions such as ‘Debunking the Myths and the Realities of College Life’ and ‘The History and Perceptions of HBCUs.’ The day ended with Fields and Herndon-Brown hosting an open discussion centered around post-high school planning for Black students. 

“Ultimately, I want people to get into college and go on to be successful,” Fields said. “[Through this,] our long-term goal is to narrow the wealth gap between Blacks and other racial groups in the country.”

With plans for the Experience Day coming back for the 2024-2025 school year, Amaker states that she “hopes that students become more aware of our existence and our heritage, take pride in that and choose an HBCU to attend.”

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Sophia Siddiqui, Assistant News Editor
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