As a double graduate of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Ashley Christopher understood the importance of an HBCU education and her passion pushed her to open the same doors for others through the HBCU Week Foundation.
HBCU Week, which runs from Wednesday through Sunday, provides an HBCU-like atmosphere for families in Wilmington, among a variety of other events. The week invites all students to participate in opportunities for scholarships, internships and on-the-spot admissions.
A native of Wilmington, Christopher said the mission of the foundation is to expose local high school students to the history, culture and possibilities that HBCUs have to offer.
‘Here to dispel that myth’
“HBCUs are incredibly important to me,” said Christopher, an alum of Howard University and the University of District of Columbia, both DC HBCUs. “You have a lot of students [in Wilmington] who are in high school that believe they can’t go to college … but I’m here to dispel that myth.”
HBCU Week was launched by Christopher in 2017 under the leadership of Wilmington Mayor Michael Purzycki. Since its inception, the week’s college fair has resulted in more than 3,500 on-the-spot college acceptances and more than $23 million in scholarship awards.
This year includes the awarding of the inaugural $10,000 Mayor Mike Purzycki Changemaker Scholarship, which will go to a student who lives in Wilmington and commits to attending any HBCU, said Christoper, who works as the mayor’s special assistant.
In recent years, HBCU Week has gained national notoriety through the help of corporate representatives from the National Football League, the Gucci Changemakers, the NAACP, and Wilmington’s HBCU ambassador Stephen A. Smith.
Christoper said she is “grateful” that the foundation has brought newfound attention to the importance of Black youth attending HBCUs.
“It just means a lot to show the students from my hometown that college is an option,” Christopher said. “HBCUs graduate the best and brightest every year, but you need people like Stephen A. Smith with large platforms to carry that message.”
Wednesday afternoon marked the beginning of Wilmington’s annual celebration, which kicked off with a happy hour at DECO Wilmington, followed by a concert downtown at The Queen, featuring hip-hop artist Rick Ross and singer/actress Mya.
Twenty-five Historically Black Colleges and Universities and 10 corporations are taking part in Wilmington’s annual HBCU Week and college fair. This year’s festivities also include a middle school tour at the event’s HBCU sponsor, Delaware State University, said Dr. Dawn Mosley, who is vice president of marketing and communications at the university.
“It means everything to know that we have another entity of people who are just as passionate about reaching school-age students in underserved populations and helping them understand the importance and benefits of attending an HBCU,” Mosley said.
To learn more about HBCU Week or to register for an event, visit https://www.hbcuweek.org.
Here is the rest of the schedule of events slated for HBCU Week 2022:
Thursday, Sept 22
My HBCU Experience Panel Discussion
Time: 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm
Location: The Queen Wilmington
Friday, Sept. 23rd
HBCU Week College Fair
Time: 9am to 2pm
Location: The Chase Fieldhouse
HBCU Week Comedy Show
Location: The Queen Wilmington
Saturday, Sept. 24th
HBCU Week Block Party
Time: 12 pm to 5 pm
Location: Deco Wilmington
Sunday, Sept. 25th
HBCU Week Battle of the Bands
Time: Doors open at 12:30 pm
Location: Frawley Stadium
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