The White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (Initiative) announced on Thursday the names of 44 students from 34 historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) selected as 2019 HBCU Competitiveness Scholars – the Initiative’s highest student recognition.

Comprised of undergraduate, graduate, and professional students, Competitiveness Scholars are recognized for successfully preparing to compete for top opportunities that improve long-term outcomes. Each was nominated and endorsed by their institution President, which itself is an honorable mention. Johnathan Holifield, executive director of the Initiative, said, “The Initiative’s watchword is competitiveness and these students are fine examples of the depth and diversity of competitive talent at our institutions. We are honored to recognize them.”

Scholars were selected from among several highly distinguished HBCU students chosen based on their academic achievement, campus and civic involvement and entrepreneurial ethos or “go-getter” spirit. In the course of their one-year term, Competitiveness Scholars will learn and share proven and promising practices that support individual and institutional achievement, with the goal of strengthening prospects for career and life success.

In 1980, President Jimmy Carter signed Executive Order 12232, which established a federal program “… to overcome the effects of discriminatory treatment and to strengthen and expand the capacity of historically black colleges and universities to provide quality education.”

In 1981, President Reagan, under Executive Order 12320, established the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, which expanded the previous program and set into motion a government wide effort to strengthen our nation’s HBCUs. In 1989, President George Bush signed Executive Order 12677. This executive order established a Presidential Advisory Board on Historically Black Colleges and Universities to advise the president and the secretary of education on methods, programs, and strategies to strengthen these valued institutions.

Rodney Ellis, chancellor of Southern University at Shreveport and a member of the President’s Board of Advisors on HBCUs, added, “Academics, civic engagement, entrepreneurship and leadership are achieved through action, not position. Congratulations to the students from the Southern University System and other HBCUs for taking the necessary actions and leveraging their positions as students to achieve impact.”

Competitiveness Scholars will assemble during the 2019 National HBCU Week Conference, Sept. 8-11 at the Renaissance Washington DC Hotel – the theme of which is Enhancing HBCU Competitiveness: Student Achievement. Quality Partnerships. Institutional Performance. They will participate in workshops designed to strengthen their leadership, wealth creation and management and civic engagement and will be encouraged to seek out ongoing personal and professional development in the areas of innovation and entrepreneurship.

Competitiveness Scholars are recognized for the 2019-2020 academic school year. Throughout this period, the Initiative will facilitate engagement activities, as well as provide information and resources that scholars can take advantage of or disseminate to fellow students. Scholars are encouraged to fully take advantage of the opportunities provided, engage with one another and showcase their individual and collective talents across the HBCU spectrum.

Competitiveness Scholars will receive their recognition at the HBCU week conference during the Initiative’s Excellence in Innovation and Competitiveness Awards luncheon ceremony on Sept. 9.

Below is a list of the 2019 WHIHBCU Competitiveness Scholars, in alphabetical order by hometown state, the school they attend and the school’s location.

ARKANSAS

Little Rock- Paola Vasquez, Philander Smith College, Little Rock, Arkansas
Little Rock- Kyra Rattler, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Pine Bluff, Arkansas
Pine Bluff- Angelique Cooper, Wiley College, Marshall, Texas

FLORIDA

Miami- Angela Adkins, North Carolina Central University, Durham, North Carolina

GEORGIA

Hephzibah- Rodesha Elam, Fort Valley State University, Fort Valley, Georgia
Lithonia- Kia Alicia Smith, Dillard University, New Orleans, Louisiana
Lithonia- Kalyn Black, Talladega College, Talladega, Alabama
Macon- Saxton Keitt, Benedict College, Columbia, South Carolina
Riverdale- Aaliyah Buckholts, Savannah State University, Savannah, Georgia
Springfield- Denzel Walls, Voorhees College, Denmark, South Carolina

ILLINOIS

Chicago- Carvell Garrett, Wilberforce University, Wilberforce, Ohio

LOUISIANA

Alexandria- Morgan Mallory, Southern University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Baton Rouge- Christian King, Southern University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Marrero- Trezell Raga, Southern University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
New Orleans- Alicia Hoey, Dillard University, New Orleans, Louisiana

MARYLAND

Columbia- Diane Ijoma, Howard University, Washington, D.C.

MISSISSIPPI

Columbus- Makayela Bouldes, Rust College, Holly Springs, Mississippi
Crystal Springs- Erienne Lewis, Dillard University, New Orleans, Louisiana
Itta Bena- Destiney Sharkey, Mississippi Valley State University, Itta Bena, Mississippi
Jackson- Adrianna Chambers, Hinds Community College-Utica, Utica, Mississippi
Louisville- Haley McHenry, Tougaloo College, Tougaloo, Mississippi
Vicksburg- Jasmine King, Jackson State University, Jackson, Mississippi

NEVADA

Las Vegas- Shayna Espy, Grambling State University, Grambling, Louisiana
Las Vegas- Makhaela French, Norfolk State University, Norfolk, Virginia

NORTH CAROLINA

Fayetteville-Kiante Bennett, Fayetteville State University, Fayetteville, North Carolina
Fayetteville- Tenecious Underwood, Livingstone College, Salisbury, North Carolina
New Bew- Lyndon Bowen, North Carolina Central University, Durham, North Carolina

PENNSYLVANIA

Harrisburg- Elisabeth Bellevue, Lincoln University, Lincoln University, Pennsylvania

SOUTH CAROLINA

Charleston- Kenton Kelley, Morris College, Sumter, South Carolina
Edgefield- Desmond Rowe, Allen University, Columbia, South Carolina
Pinewood-Sky Harvin, Claflin University, Orangeburg, South Carolina

TENNESSEE

Chattanooga- KaDarius Scott, Lane College, Jackson, Tennessee
Memphis- Angelika Gilbert, Lane College, Jackson, Tennessee
Memphis- Mariah Rhodes, Tennessee State University, Memphis, Tennessee
Nashville- Anyah Gilmore-Jones, Tennessee State University, Nashville, Tennessee

TEXAS

Dallas- Ayanna Brown, Xavier University, New Orleans, Louisiana
DeSoto- Sidney McLaurin, Shaw University, Raleigh, North Carolina
Houston- Nicholas Caldwell, Southern University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Houston- Rachel Gentry, Southern University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
San Antonio- Catherine Cantu, Saints Phillips College, San Antonio, Texas

VIRGINIA

Dumfries- Tariq Edwards, Claflin University, Orangeburg, South Carolina
Virginia Beach- Destiny Hodges, Virginia State University, Petersburg, Virginia

WEST AFRICA

Benin- Honour Oluwatemlorun Adewumi, Jarvis Christian College, Hawkins, Texas

WISCONSIN

Milwaukee- Jalicya Lowery, Stillman College, Tuscaloosa, Alabama

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