Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority is dedicated to the sustainability of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). The goal is to promote and market HBCUs and encourage students to attend HBCUs as a sustainability measure. Sigma Lambda Omega Chapter pledged to sponsor a deserving youth to attend the Educational Student Tour (EST) directed by Greg and Yasmin Delahoussaye. The Delahoussayes have led Black College Tours for over 30 years. Last spring, SLO learned of Aja Morrison’s interest in possibly attending an HBCU.
Aja was then an 11th grader attending Valley Academy of Arts and Sciences in Granada Hills. SLO was impressed with her high school academic record and her enthusiasm to attend college. We recognized the financial challenges she and her family faced and awarded her with a $1500 scholarship to go on the HBCU tour with the Delahoussayes. Aja also took advantage of our #CAP (College Admission Process) program. She recognized this as a means to improve her chances to attend the college of her choice. She is now in her second year in the #CAP program and has attended several workshops.
Sigma Lambda Omega sees Aja Morrison as a rising star. We wish to offer her the tools she needs to shine bright! Committee Co-Chairman and SLO chartering member Cynthia Barnett chatted (via text) with Aja about her experience on the Black College Tour.
Read below excerpts from their conversation!
C. Barnett: Aja, what colleges did you visit last summer on the Educational Student Tours (EST)? What did you think of the tour?
Aja Morrison: We visited six schools in three different states, plus Washington DC. We toured: Spelman, Clark Atlanta University, Johnson C. Smith University, North Carolina A&T, Hampton University and Howard University. When in Washington, DC, we also got to tour the city. A highlight was our visit to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.
It was an amazing trip and somewhat overwhelming! Seeing predominantly black campuses for the first time was incredible! I experienced a mixture of emotions. In a way, it was nerve wracking. It was also exciting. On the other hand, I was shocked. To actually see a university with the large presence of “us” was beyond belief. The whole trip was an adventure. I didn’t know where to look first. Everything got my attention. I didn’t know where to focus. The people, the buildings, the beautiful campuses, cities, all were new to me. I had never seen anything like it. Fortunately, these were guided tours and I was able to learn a lot. I really enjoyed it.
C. Barnett: Do you feel you should have visited more than the six schools?
Aja M: No, six was the right amount. Too many more and I would have been confused. There was a lot to take in at each campus. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity. All the schools are so far away. I would have never had the chance to visit all of them with my family alone.
C. Barnett: Who was your roommate? How many youth all together were on the tour?
Aja M. Sasha Brown and Chyanne (I forget her last name) were my roommates. I met Sasha in the CAP program. She is Ms. Diane’s granddaughter. It was just a coincidence that we were assigned to room together.
I believe there were about 25 students altogether on the tour. It was a nice size group. There were lots of chaperones.
C. Barnett: Of the six schools you visited, did you have a favorite?
Aja M.: Yes, my favorites were Johnson C. Smith University (JCSU), Hampton University and North Carolina University. They felt comfortable and like home. JCSU was very small and it somewhat reminded of the high school I go to. Hampton University and NCA&T both caught my attention because of the programs they offered. I feel that I could receive a great education from any of the three.
Postscript: Aja recently attended the LA HBCU College Fair, had her transcripts in hand, and received on-the-spot acceptance to JCSU! She also was previously accepted at CSU East Bay. Commitment Day is May 1. Aja is applying for scholarships and trying to determine where she can receive the best financial package with little to know debt obligations.