The Orbit

The Student News Site of Reading Memorial High School

The Orbit

The Orbit


Which statement best describes your feelings about the return of midyear exams?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

RMHS Connects with HBCUs

College Reps Visit. Students Attend Fair.
Nicole Torello (’24)
HBCU pennants are featured on the wall outside the RMHS METCO Office.

On October 26th, a group of RMHS students and faculty attended the Building Bridges College Fair at the Reggie Lewis Center in Boston in order to make connections with HBCUs and learn more about them. 

HBCU refers to Historically Black Colleges and Universities. There are over 100 in the US. According to the Higher Education Act of 1965, historically black colleges and universities were accredited and established before the year 1964 with the primary mission to educate Black Americans. After the Civil War anti-literacy laws prevented enslaved and free African Americans from education because slave owners and anti-abolitionists feared they would lose their societal power if enslaved people or their descendants became literate. HBCUs were created to offer an opportunity for African Americans to learn about their culture and excel without fear of discrimination. Mr. Ulysse, the METCO Director at RMHS, added, “It’s a school where black people can go and feel welcome and feel they are amongst their peers.” 

Last year, L&P Educational Services  reached out to Mrs. Williams, a guidance counselor at RMHS. They asked if the school was interested in hosting college representatives and invited students to attend an HBCU college fair they organized called Building Bridges. The invitation was two days before the event, so our school was not able to participate. Williams noted, “It was too late for me to organize because there is a lot of work that goes into organizing something like this, but knowing about it helped us start the process earlier this year.” L&P organized a week-long event for college reps from HBCUs to travel to Boston and make connections with schools because there are no HBCUs in this area. Any school district affiliated with the METCO system was invited to participate in this event.

It was really motivational and eye opening for many students.

— Ms. Williams

The fair was open to students of all grade levels. Williams explained, “If you were a Boston student, part of the METCO program, you were required to go. METCO was sponsoring the whole thing, so I think they wanted to make sure their students went.” A group of students that live in Reading were interested in HBCUs and participated in the event, too. There were about 50 total students from RMHS. 

Before the fair, on October 25th, RMHS hosted college representatives from Claflin University in South Carolina, West Virginia State University, Tuskegee University in Alabama, and Delaware State University. They were at the school for 3 hours. The first hour was allotted to the representatives to meet with the school counselors and tell them about their programs and demystify ideas about HBCUs. Williams said, “They just wanted us to have an opportunity to ask them any questions we had, like who are the students that are going there, what are the pros and cons, why would our students attend?, etc.” The second hour was the panel portion where students participated. About 50 students attended this assembly. At the assembly, the representatives gave a brief description of their colleges. 

Ms. Santa Maria, a guidance counselor, shared, “They included some of the highlights of their school, and some information regarding what they are looking for in terms of applicants.” They also encouraged students to start the process of post-high school planning and career planning. The final hour was a brunch with the HBCU college representatives and administrators from the high school, as well as the district. That evening a few faculty members attended a networking event at Fenway. Williams shared, “It was an opportunity for us to mingle with the college reps in a more relaxed atmosphere.”  

On October 26th, those students from RMHS traveled to Boston and went to the Reggie Lewis Center where the fair was held. There were 16 colleges present at the event. The fair was set up like a typical college fair. Each college had their own table set up where students could walk up to them and speak with the representatives. Santa Maria said, “These conversations allowed students to learn more about the different schools but also requirements they have for admissions.” L&P Services also provided information sessions throughout the day. Students from RMHS attended the first of 2 sessions.

I asked the colleges about programs they offered for the major that I am interested in.

— Timia Jones ('25)

The presentation was given by Chritopher Vick of A2Z College Consulting. Santa Maria explained, “He spoke about the importance of showing who you are in your applications and how to find success in the college search process.” Williams added, “It was really motivational and eye opening for many students. I think students left the information session with this fire under them, this excitement, so they went back to the fair and mingled with all the college reps to get information.”

Some colleges offered an opportunity to do an on-the-spot admissions interview. One student from RMHS, Jamir Celestine (‘24), was accepted to Claflin University that day and offered a $12,000 scholarship. Students were mostly interested in learning about the majors offered, internship opportunities, study abroad programs, and the campus community. Timia Jones (‘25), shared, “I asked the colleges about programs they offered for the major that I am interested in. I also asked about tuition, the campus, student life, professors, and any special events they might have.”

The HBCU college fair was not only an amazing experience for individual students, but also the school as a whole. There were positive responses from the students and staff that experienced the college fair. Williams noted, “At the end of the trip I asked all the students for feedback, and across the board everyone said it was definitely worth it.” Santa Maria said, “It was extremely informative and will help us to better guide students in the future. The admissions officers and guest speakers had a wealth of knowledge that they were willing to share surrounding not only their specific schools, but the history of HBCUs and why they are so important. It was a fantastic networking event for students, staff, and administration all around.”

RMHS had never participated in an HBCU event before this year, but will continue to do so in the future. Due to the overwhelmingly positive feedback, Williams claimed, “I think we will do things a little differently next year, but the overall experience of having the college reps here, as well as, doing the networking event and the college fair will happen again.”

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Orbit Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *