The 16th Annual Black College Expo (BCE) produced by the National College Resources Foundation made its day stop in sunny California, Saturday, Jan. 31, at the Los Angeles Convention Center. The day was filled with countless educational opportunities for high school students and made educational dreams come true. It was a day meant to help smooth the transition from high school to college.
Over 100 colleges such as, HBCU’s, Cal States, UC’s and Community Colleges were in attendance to meet with students. The students got college applications fees waived, on the spot college acceptance and scholarships. Here in Los Angeles this year, over $16, 000 in scholarship money was awarded by BCE sponsors, Edison, Toyota, Union Bank, The Gas Company and Wells Fargo. There were also several special presentation scholarships; Ethel & Isaac Randle Memorial Scholarship, Roger Clayton Memorial Scholarship and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund.
Theresa Price, founder of the Black College Expo and the National College Resources shared why she developed the idea of what we know today as the BCE.
“I didn’t go to a black college and found out about black colleges once I was in college. It seemed like everyone I talked to, mentioned their experiences down to their passions when they talked about their college. Because of that, I felt left out and felt like I didn’t get what I needed. I didn’t want another kid to say they didn’t know about black colleges’ neither,” said Price.
There were an abundant amount of workshops available for the students, including the parents. The workshops consisted of, “The 411 for the Student Athlete,” “Booming Careers,” “How to Pay for College,” “Community Colleges,” and Ivy Leagues, Baby Ivys, and Tuition Free Colleges.”As for the parents, they were able to take part in the BCE by attending the FASFA (Free Application for Student Financial Aid) seminar.
There were even special panels held by individuals within their careers who have attended a college as a result of their participation in the previous BCE events over the past 16 years. Price noted that seeing those individuals within their careers is one of the biggest accomplishments.
“It’s rewarding to know you can make a difference in somebody’s life and help guide them towards positive postsecondary pursuits after high school. I am excited about seeing others do great and that is why I love doing this. It is my passion,” said Price. “There were even some who had GPA’s as low as 1.5. If nothing else, you see what a little T.L.C. and belief in others can do to help them succeed. People need to just be told that they can and I think that is what our organization is about. It’s telling you that you can do anything you want to do, go anywhere you want to go regardless of your background.
“You can do anything; all you have to do is believe! We all have that special gift inside of us and all we are trying to do as an organization is to help bring that special gift out, because everybody has it. God has given it to everyone. Our goal and job is to be a light to the road people travel, so they know which way to go.”
But, what is a day of business without pleasure? Around 3 p.m., BCE held an After Show hosted by celebrity talent Kel Mitchell from the Nickelodeon show Kenan & Kel. The show featured a scholarship presentation, a step show, and performances by 2015 Grammy Nominee Antonique Smith singing her hit song, “Hold Up Wait A Minute”, upcoming artists and a special BET Experience Segment.
Mitchell has been the face of BCE since 2010, and when asked how he got involved he said, “My wife knew Theresa Price from back in the day and they invited me over to the first one five years ago. I enjoyed it, I loved it, and I loved what Theresa was doing in the community and for the youth. That has always been my passion and I said to her, ‘I want to help you and I want to be a part of it to get these kids to a higher learning and higher education.’ I am all about it, so that is why I am here.”
Mentorship program, Alumni Gems from Cerritos was present and mentor and member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated, Cosetta Samuel shared why it was important for the Gems to be there.
“It is a great opportunity for the girls to be around so many schools that can access and they are able to learn a lot of information at once. The expo isn’t only for seniors; they are able to get prepared for when they do become seniors. It is a very important venue for me as a mentor for girls, so I am excited about it and happy to see it and I hope it continues on,” said Samuel.
Delta Gem, Jaiden Townsend, 14, said being at the expo was important to her because, “Not a lot of black people get to go to college. It is important to view all different colleges and experience college life.”
The BCE is planned a year in advance and next year’s date is already set. The BCE is all about changing lives, encourage young individuals to believe in themselves, and setting the foundation for young people to succeed. For more information regarding the Black College Expo and their next stop, go to www.thecollegeexpo.com.