Peralta Community College District's Only Student-Run Publication
Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

(Illustration: Eliot Faine/The Citizen)
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    Touring educational expo visits Laney to empower

    Laney College hosted United Negro College Fund’s (UNCF) final stop on its “Empower Me Tour” on March 21 with a series of workshops, panels and speeches aimed to encourage aspiring college students of color to pursue their dreams. Roughly 200 youths and parents attended the all-day event.
    The self-described “free, traveling college and career-readiness road show,” sponsored by Wells Fargo arrived at Laney on the heels of a recent California Community Colleges announcement guaranteeing transfers for students who earn Associate Arts degrees to one of nine Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), which are all located outside California (see list below). 
    This transfer agreement is similar to one between California community colleges and California State Universities. One objective of the accord is to increase options for students who start their higher education path at the community college level. Another is to address declining enrollment at HBCUs.
    A UNCF representative at the “Empower Me” event had not yet heard news of the agreement, but suspected declining enrollment at HBCUs was likely the reason for the deal.
    But this partnership is likely to benefit students as well. According the California Community Colleges’ website, while only 17 percent of black students attend HBCUs, 28 percent of black students nationwide who earn a bachelor’s degree do so from an HBCU. 
    College completion is one of the issues UNCF’s “Empower Me Tour” attempts to address. According to the Pew Research Center, more Hispanics and blacks are enrolling in college, but there is a discrepancy in completing degrees.
    The main event of Laney’s “Empower Me” day was the College Completion Town Hall Meeting, where high school and college students participated in an interactive discussion about career advice and succeeding in college.
    Attendees heard personal stories of success amid challenges of celebrity guests and sought advice and recommendations from panel participants.
    Actor and choreographer Darrin Henson used a metaphor to motivate young audience members. “A piece of paper has two sides, right?” his voice boomed loudly. “On one side of the paper write what you want, and on the other side, why you want it.”
    Upstairs in the Student Center, several booths housed representatives from organizations that support education in the Bay Area, including Black Girls Code, the Marine Corps and Girls, Inc. 
    CalGrant and UNCF both had booths offering college and high school students resources and information about HBCUs, scholarships and financial aid. 
    CalGrant provided a college admissions checklist for juniors and one for seniors to help students on their month-by-month timeline to prep for college.
    After lunch, high school and college students split up into a boys’ group and a girls’ group. Panelists in the girls’ workshop included actor Joyful Drake, and Nikki Thomas, a radio personality on KBLX. “Take yourself seriously,” Thomas said. “If you don’t, nobody else will, either.”
    Speaking to the all-male group, Henson initiated a call and response. “Where my men at?” he called. “I am empowered,” the young men in the audience responded. “I am empowered!”

    HBCUs that signed the transfer deal are: Bennett College, Dillard University, Fisk University, Lincoln University in Missouri, Philander Smith College, Stillman College, Talladega College, Tuskegee University and Wiley College.

    About the Contributor
    In the fall of 2019, The Laney Tower rebranded as The Citizen and launched a new website. These stories were ported over from the old Laney Tower website, but byline metadata was lost in the port. However, many of these stories credit the authors in the text of the story. Some articles may also suffer from formatting issues. Future archival efforts may fix these issues.  
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