Durham News: Opinion

Kimberlye Worth: HBCUs not the problem

Reading Bob Wilson’s attempt to discredit HBCUs was disheartening. It encouraged me to look at the performances of all 16 state-funded four-year universities in North Carolina.

I found out the truth, and that singling out HBCUs will not solve the real problem. Let me share some numbers to put into perspective just how significant HBCUs are in North Carolina.

1. N.C. Agricultural and Technical State University ranked No. 1 in the nation among public HBCUs, according to U.S. News & World Report’s 2014 Best Colleges. It also ranked No. 152 for best undergraduate engineering programs, out of 3,000, and in the top 5 among North Carolina college and universities whose students had the highest job offers, alongside N.C. State and UNC-Chapel Hill.

2. The publication National Jurist ranked the N.C. Central University School of Law as one of the top 5 in America in providing clinical opportunities to students. NCCU is emerging as a leader in the health disparities research. Its biomedical research institute offers hands-on laboratory experience in collaboration with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies based in Research Triangle Park and across the state.

3. Winston Salem State University ranked No. 62 out of 132 in the Regional University South Rankings.

4. Military Times named Fayetteville State University as the top school in N.C. and among the best in the country for veterans.

5. Elizabeth City State University ranked No. 6 out of 77 in N.C. for art management and No. 9 out of 77 in N.C. for art design and management.

Mr. Wilson used SAT scores as an indicator of success. To make this generalization is misleading. I attended N.C. A&T and didn’t score well on the SAT. I have still been able to achieve the goals in my field. I have worked at Fortune 100 companies including VF, and I worked in industries such as NASCAR that are highly unlikely for a minority to work in. I now work with one of top 5 places to work in Charlotte, specializing in computer and web applications. Not to mention that my sisters have benefited from their HBCU education as well. One is a doctor, and another works with Cisco.

HBCUs are not the last resort. There are many reasons why students choose HBCUs to further their education. One of my white co-workers at NASCAR told me that he attended Winston Salem State University to study in the NASCAR initiative program and establish an internship that later turned into a full-time position at NASCAR. Students are getting smarter about how they choose a university. You can get the same if not better training at an HBCU for a smaller tuition. You have access to resources, accredited professors, a smaller professor to student ratio, research studies and cases, and job fairs with top employers.

On another note some students prefer an HBCU setting for the culture, family tradition and fact that some students learn better from people who talk or look like them. Not all students choose this way, just some.

The real problem is that in North Carolina the average graduation rate for state-funded universities is 53 percent within eight years. The national average for public universities is 57 percent within six years.

The numbers show we need to improve our graduation rate for all the four-year state-funded universities, not just HBCUs. We need to ask the right questions. Why is the average undergraduate graduate rate so low? Are our students able to afford school? Are we helping all our students to find financial aid to further their higher education? To only point out HBCUs is irresponsible, bias and a disservice to our students.

Kimberlye Worth, the editor at www.lovelyespirit.com, is a graduate of N.C. A&T and an SEO specialist in Charlotte. Connect with her via Twitter @lovelyespirit.com.