For Imani Education Circle Charter School students, the end of a week-long Historically Black Colleges and Universities celebration saw volunteers from Temple and Cheyney University visit to discuss the importance of getting a college education, applying for scholarships and participating in extracurriculars.
Student speakers with the NAACP, Temple University’s Black Student Union, Delta Sigma Theta, Alpha Phi Alpha and Kappa Alpha Psi were represented at the Germantown K-8’s “Step Rally.”
“It is extremely important for our students to see other young people who are doing what we anticipate they will do as well,” said Francine Fulton, Imani charter’s founder and CEO. “We are trying to instill the notion now that college is what you do.
“They really need to consider now, and we try to help them think about what it is that [they] might want to do, what kind of career would [they] like to have and get them thinking that it’s a natural progression to go to college.”
Program moderator and Temple University graduate student Jessica Thomas shared her experiences an undergraduate and past president of the NAACP student chapter. She spoke about how scholarships have meant she and her family have not had to pay for her secondary education.
“You have to prepare if you want to go to college. You don’t want to have to come out of your own pocket. You don’t want your parents to come out of their pocket,” Thomas told the students. “My mother worked aggressively to get me to go to college for free. I have not paid a dime out of my pocket for college.”
The Alaska native received her first scholarship for $2,500 when she was in eighth grade.
“My very first scholarship that I applied for was in seventh-grade,” Thomas recounted. “You know who beat me? A six-year-old. [It] was a Campbell Soup scholarship. I guess he wrote a better essay than me and won $10,000. So my mom said, ‘You need to get your A-game together.'”
Thomas has since been awarded more than $300,000 in scholarships based on academics, extra-curricular activities and community involvement.
Fulton admitted she was not aware that younger students could apply for scholarships.
“That is such great news,” Fulton said. “We keep pushing them and strengthening them as much as we can while they’re here. But if they can do those things and earn scholarships now? What a wonderful thing.”
Year-round black-history months
HBCU Week has been around throughout the 14-year history of Imani’s 14-year history, an African centered school.
“We don’t wait for February to do black history, but we do HBCU Week every year in February … to make sure that they children are constantly thinking about it,” said Fulton, an alumnus of Temple and Lincoln universities. “I do feel that children can go almost anywhere to go to school, but I like HBCUs for our children for some real obvious reasons. Racism is still alive in America, discrimination is still alive in America and I want our children to have a chance.”
Looking ahead, Fulton said she wants to get next year’s kindergarten class engaged in high-school and college-prep activities.