Keynote speaker Chelsea Roberts, RPCS class of 2012, Spelman College class of 2016 and current Chief Operating Officer of HBCUvc, a non-profit dedicated to transforming how investment capital is formed and allocated to benefit historically underestimated groups, spoke to the packed auditorium on her experience at an HBCU and how when reflecting on her HBCU experience, three words come to mind: Legacy, Community, and Service.
The night also included a panel of current or recent alumni from HBCU colleges who attended AIMS high schools. Panelists included Angel Faulkner, RPCS class of 2022, current student at Bowie State University; Jordan Oliver, Mount Saint Joseph High School graduate of 2020, current student at Bowie State University; Teddy Wimberly, Mount Saint Joseph High School graduate of 2020 and current student at Morgan State University; Mehki Agudo, Boys’ Latin School of Maryland graduate class of 2023 and current student at Howard University; and Emerson Daniel, Garrison Forest School graduate of 2019 and Howard University graduate and current analyst at Morgan Stanley. The panel was led by Olivia Carroll, RPCS class of 2017 and Howard University graduate.
Chelsea's college recommendation letter described her as a student who is "passionate about learning and experiencing new people and cultures, driven to seek equal treatment for all, balanced in her leadership and inclusive in all that she pursues." It went on to describe her by saying, "In the classroom, Chelsea is a tone-setter. She is an influential contributor, a forward-thinking conversationalist, a confident leader and a masterful team-builder."
A dozen years later, Chelsea brought that spark back to the halls of her high school alma mater. She spoke directly to the audience and gave words of wisdom, sharing insights from her time at Spelman and in her decision making process in choosing an HBCU. “The more you learn and are exposed to, the better informed you are to make decisions,”, she said in reference to learning more about the legacy of an HBCU. She continued, “the history of HBCUs is a part of this country’s fabric. Literally, HBCUs are the birthplace of Black thought, innovation, and activism.” She also credited the RPCS Director of DEI during her time as an RPCS student with teaching her about the legacy and family that an HBCU provides. “Teachers are powerful people. By the time I was a junior and more seriously looking at colleges, Ms. Simms asked if I had considered Spelman. She would share stories about her time at Morgan State, her sorority sisters, and the joy in going back to campus for homecoming.” When speaking on the community of an HBCU, Chelsea lovingly referenced the first time she went to Spelman. “When I walked onto campus, I had never seen so many fly Black women in my life. It was a place where I truly understood that the way you looked, how you dressed, the color of your skin, your hair, the inflections in your voice, had no impact on the measure of your intellect or success.”
After her speech, RPCS Assistant Head of School for Culture, Community & Belonging, Elisha James, joined Chelsea on stage for a Q&A session. They spoke about teachers, college counselors, and administrators' roles when talking to students, especially BIPOC students, about the possibility of attending HBCUs. Chelsea discussed the adjustments she made to help navigate freshman year, and her mom even chimed in about how she supported Chelsea's transition. They wrapped up their chat with Chelsea, sharing the traits she looks for when interviewing interns and potential employees and what students can do to cultivate opportunities such as the ones provided through HBCUvc. Upon leaving the stage, Chelsea received a standing ovation.
The panel of mostly college students provided wonderful insights for the students in the audience. Teddy spoke to the diverse nature of an HBCU; how there are Black students from all over the world, in addition to students of other diverse backgrounds. Jordan passionately spoke on how the relationships he formed at Bowie State with professors allowed him to cultivate his passion for zoology, biology, and chemistry, and how he has already traveled to Africa, London and Arizona to do lab work and pursue a passion he never saw developing while he was a high schooler.
When Mehki was asked by an audience member to provide specific advice about being a college student, he adamantly declared, “Don’t skip class! Just don’t do it!” to the laughter and agreement of the audience. Angel’s advice was to find your “safe space”, which to her was with her advisor. Emerson passionately agreed and joked that even as an alumnae she still Facetimes with her college advisor. Emerson continued to provide advice, and emphasized the need to work hard. “It’s a simple, yet powerful message that you cannot forget,” she ended the night with. “You have to work hard to accomplish great things. You will have an amazing and life changing experience at these HBCUs, but you have to work hard to get the most out of it.”
The night ended with a festive social and networking reception where audience members got to connect with the panelists and keynote speaker amongst dancing, eating, and engaging with one another. Also present were representatives from admission and alumni chapters who were on hand to talk to interested students and share information about their universities.
A huge thank you to all of our speakers and those who organized this amazing event, along with the local area schools who co-sponsored this event.
- Boys’ Latin School of Baltimore
- Bryn Mawr School
- Friends School of Baltimore
- Garrison Forest School
- Gilman School
- McDonogh School
- Mount Saint Joseph’s High School