LOS ANGELES — Chaniya Cameron didn’t know that the 19th annual Black College Expo Los Angeles event was taking place Feb. 10.
A senior attending Eastlake High School in Chula Vista, near San Diego, Cameron got word of the expo from a friend.
So Cameron and her mother drove two hours to the Los Angeles Convention Center to see what educational alternatives that schools, particularly historically black colleges and universities, were offering to students. Turns out that Cameron and thousands of other expo attendees had plenty of options.
An estimated 15,000 people showed up for the all-day affair, which was presented by the National College Resources Foundation. More than three dozen HBCUs and more than 200 colleges in general were on the scene. That gave students the opportunity to pick and choose where they could apply.
Some schools eliminated their application fees to make it easier for students to apply to their respective academic institutions.
“I think it’s very important for young people to know about this, especially from the school that I go to, they didn’t really say anything about this expo,” Cameron said. “We kind of had to find out about it for ourselves, which is really disappointing seeing that I would not have known to come here and wouldn’t have known I could be accepted on the spot.
That’s really important for a lot of kids, especially those who want to be exposed to their culture and whatnot. Living in San Diego and the Los Angeles area, I think that it’s important that we all go to college and that there’s other options besides California state universities.”
Cameron, who boasts a 3.4 grade point average and aspires to go into nursing like her mother, made out pretty well. She received acceptance letters from Grambling State University and Hampton University. She was also accepted by Florida A&M University.
“I think it’s very important for black kids to go to HCBUs (historically black colleges and universities),” Cameron said after she had received her acceptance letter from Hampton. “I think it’s important that black colleges are accepting black students so that we can go to college and we can get educated, especially in the world that we’re living in today. … I think it’s important for us to be educated, to know our rights and know what we need to know to be black in America.”
Brent Cleveland has been bringing his son, Bryant Kobe Brown, to the Black College Expo for the past four years. His goal of doing so was to get Brown used to college life, particularly within the confines of understanding of what black college life looks like.
“I’ve brought him here since the ninth grade,” Cleveland said. “I think that it’s very important for us to get our kids into black colleges so that we can have the numbers to keep them going.”
Brown is pretty unique in the sense that the Westchester High graduate recently obtained his associate of arts degree from Los Angeles Southwest College. Cleveland encouraged Brown into taking college courses as a high school student so that he could be ahead of the academic curve.
“What I was doing, I was trying to get him acclimated to college to see how he would do. He took the ball and ran with it,” Cleveland said. “Right now, we’re just looking at him getting accepted and him doing his thing. I’ve just been trying to work with him and doing the best that I can as a dad.”
Brown has received acceptance offers from other schools, but he beamed with pride after securing an acceptance letter from Hampton University.
“Thank you,” said Brown, who wants to major in clinical psychology. “I feel so great.”
Alexis Adams-Lucas came to the Black College Expo looking for schools catering to the area of animal science in which she is seeking to earn a degree in. Taking an HBCU tour helped shape Adams’ thinking of where she wanted to attend college.
The college expo only solidified her mindset. The John F. Kennedy High School senior from Norco found what she was looking for as Tuskegee University was among the several schools that accepted her.
“I’m really excited,” Adams-Lucas said. “I have more options to choose to go to college. I want to go to a school where I feel comfortable around people who look like me.”