Mid-South students selected for White House HBCU initiative

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The White House initiative for historically black colleges and universities announced its 2021 scholars.

Several Mid-South students and schools were on the list. WREG-TV spoke with one scholar and university president about what this honor means to them.

Genesa Williams will soon be a junior at Rust College in Holly Springs, Mississippi. She can now add 2021 HBCU scholar to her list of achievements.

“Once I got the acceptance letter, I couldn’t believe it. I was just excited!” said Williams.

Williams, originally from Columbus Mississippi, is one of several students representing the Mid-South. Two other students originally from Marion and West Memphis, Arkansas were selected, along with two students from Memphis. 

The application process included a transcript, essay, letter of recommendation, and the signature of their university president. 

“It is an excellent opportunity for the students to be introduced to a broader network of scholars, and people who are interested in leadership development and I think it’s a great opportunity for her to represent our school,” said Dr. Ivy R. Taylor, the President of Rust College.

The HBCU Scholars will serve as ambassadors of the initiative, and their school as well as participate in regional and national events, including an upcoming conference in Washington D.C.

This year’s conference theme is “Exploring Equity.” They will participate in sessions about entrepreneurship, innovation, and personal and professional development. 

“When I saw that I said, Ok, I knew this is something I wanted to do. I could be exposed to other people you know similar to me but around the world,” said Williams. “My major being business communications and specifically HR, I talked about how this trip or this experience in general could benefit that.”

President Taylor added, “We really try to support our students having a world of options beyond where we are geographically but they also get a wonderful foundation and a supportive environment.”

The US Department of Education says one of the most important things about the upcoming conference is students will engage one another and showcase their individual and collective talent across the HBCU community.

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