Education vacation: A trip to Historically Black Colleges and Universities is changing how students view their futures

Noblesvilles BSU club poses in front of a HBCU. This is one of the several universities they visited while on their trip.

Noblesville’s BSU club poses in front of a HBCU. This is one of the several universities they visited while on their trip.

Morgan Trowbridge and Anna Egleson

Black students are often marginalized and even ignored in educational environments. In such communities like Noblesville, a generally white area, learning about African American culture and history can be difficult, causing Black students to feel isolated. Because of this, it becomes important for African American students at NHS to feel supported, and historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) do just that.

In 2022, Noblesville’s Black Student Union (BSU) was given a grant of 20,000 dollars to travel the country and explore various HBCUs in three different states. Not only did this trip offer opportunities for students in attendance, it also allowed them to form lasting relationships with other African American attendees.

As Black colleges and universities gain prominence in the higher education sphere, more African-American students are able to explore options which might for them, and their values better. 

Spanish teacher Delcia Mendez is one of the two sponsors of the BSU, along with Akwete Purifoy. The two went as chaperones on the HBCU trip.

“I [had] no involvement with any HBCUs [when I was a student].  I wish I would have known more about them when I was choosing a college,” Mendez said.

HBCU schools have grown in prominence immensely since the first one was established in 1837. Because of their higher profile, more and more African American students are seeking out these types of schools for higher education. This may stem from a history of discrimination from non-HBCUs.

According to the Pew Research Center, “Roughly eight-in-ten [Black students] with at least some college experience (81%) say they’ve experienced racial discrimination, at least from time to time, including 17% who say this happens regularly.” 

HBCUs can be helpful to Black students seeking out higher education because of their values and lack of prejudice. Oftentimes, in schools, Black students may face bias from students, teachers, or the school itself.

Because HBCUs allow students to gather, and share experiences, this type of discrimination may be less common.

“I think that [going on the trip] made the students excited about going to HBCUs.  It exposed them to their academic options after high school,” Mendez said. “The people there really seemed like a family.  I would feel really good about my students and even my own kids going there.”

Among the 25 students on the trip, senior Dacota Hampton traveled to Tennessee State, Jackson State, Tuskegee University, and Alabama State over a span of four days. The educational trip was able to teach and inspire him and his fellow students.

“I never really knew my African American culture; I grew up here in Noblesville. It is a great town but it’s also very one race. I’ve been raised here my whole life, which is a blessing to have a great school and great people here. But I still have to know where I come from, therefore I gained a lot from the trip,” Hampton said.

Learning about his culture wasn’t the only benefit Hampton had. He believes the HBCU trip was impactful in a number of ways to him.

“I made a bunch of friendships,” Hampton said. “When I first went on the trip, I only knew four people [from the BSU], but as the trip progressively continued everyone was starting to become more like a family. I still see the people from the trip everyday: I talk to them in the hallways, in classes, see how they’re doing; we’re still very well connected.”

Hampton noted that all of the colleges were similar in their moral principles. They all had similar concepts they held for their students.

“The values [that the HBCUs] teach are really just based on the community. They want to provide a safe place for everybody, no matter where you’re coming from. They just want you to have the best education possible as well,” Hampton said.

Getting to experience the community and values wasn’t the only takeaway for Hampton. He also felt the bonds of the other members of the trip grow in strength.

“Everyone was just very accepting, no matter where they came from. That was one thing that just made me feel right at home. Everyone’s story is different yet we all got along. We stuck together [and] it was a fun time,” Hampton said. 

Overall, Hampton appreciates the journey of the trip. Through education and friendship, he has been impacted.

Hampton said, “I’m sad that I’m a senior but I’m glad I might be going to one of these colleges one day.”

Even with the bittersweetness of graduating, Hampton knows that this trip will have changed his future.

Hampton said, “[The trip] impacted me positively more than anything,” Hampton said. “It was an awesome experience [.] I got to see a bunch of places that I never knew about, and then I got to learn about them.  It possibly will affect where I choose to go to college, and it also will provide more opportunities than just staying here in Indiana.”