Associate Professor Cheryl Thompson moderates a panel discussion about historically black colleges. Clara Lishan Ong | Hatchet Photographer
This post was written by Hatchet Reporter Clara Lishan Ong.
Eight panelists participated in a two-hour-long debate Monday about the benefit of historically black colleges or predominantly white schools.The panel consisted of graduates from each type of school.
The panel discussion was hosted by Cheryl Thompson, an associate professor in the School of Media and Public Affairs.
This debate, hosted in SMPA, is part of the month-long Black Heritage Celebration, put on by several multicultural student organizations and the GW School of Business.
Here are the key takeaways from the event:
1. Choose a school that suits you
Members of the panel gave different reasons for why they choose HBCUs or predominantly white schools.
“Choose an institution you know you’ll thrive in,” said Damien Pinkett, a graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park.
For example, Donna Chatman Owens, a member of Montgomery County’s multicultural Greek organization Theta Omega, said she chose Duke University for its strong academic reputation in the sciences.
2. Look beyond stereotypes
Shonda Goward, a senior undergraduate academic adviser in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, said people are often “lumping” together schools when they are actually different.
Though historically black schools are associated with stereotypes and lower graduation rates, Chatman Owens suggested looking beyond stereotypes when assessing a school’s success.
“Instead of looking at graduation rates, look at why people are not graduating,” Owens said.
3. Find diversity
Thompson, who teaches journalism classes in SMPA, said students can find diverse friends wherever they end up going. At whichever college a student chooses, they can find friends from different backgrounds.
“I had friends from Kansas, Detroit, New York, and so on,” said Kelley Butler, a senior at Howard University.
4. What can you gain?
“Way too often we go into a classroom and we don’t have an expectation of your professors,” said George Rice, the associate director of the Multicultural Student Services Center.
Kimberly Pennamon, the associate vice president of student affairs at the University of the District of Columbia, said employers now consider other aspects besides grades when analyzing a potential candidate.
“Employers are now looking at how well graduates can perform in the workforce, which means analytical and problem-solving skills are becoming more important,” Pennamon said.