FAMU Students Recognized at White House

Gilda Brown

Jennifer Smith

Florida A&M University graduate students, Gilda Brown and Jennifer Smith, were appointed by the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges as the 2015 “HBCU All-Stars.”

HBCU All-Stars recognizes undergraduate, graduate and professional students to

serve as ambassadors to the White House and assist to increase the number of African-American students who complete college.

Brown and Smith will represent FAMU to promote initiative programs on FAMU’s campus at regional and national events.

The program will allow students to develop personal and professional relationships with many organizations and permit students to comprehend both their educational and career perspective. Students will be participating in chats with professionals that will help them engage in personal and professional development.    

FAMU was the only HBCU that students selected for this honorable opportunity. According to the U.S. Department of Education, 83 undergraduate, graduate and professional students from 70 HBCUs were selected.  

Executive Director, Ivory A. Toldson, released a statement explaining the program’s goal.

“The aim is to provide outreach and communication with fellow students about the value of education. This year’s All-Stars class will meaningfully engage with students, showcase their talents and advance academic excellence at HBCUs,” .

Brown and Smith were selected from a pool of more than 450 applicants.

Brown, a second-year pharmacology student in the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences master’s degree program is very enthusiastic about advocating for the African-American community.

That’s the importance of HBCUs referring to the need for higher-education opportunities for African-Americans,” Brown said. “Before coming to FAMU I went to a predominantly White institution, and I loved my time there, but at FAMU I have experienced professors that are encouraging me and who look like me. Something as simple as that can make a huge impact.”

FAMU President, Dr. Elmira Mangum, gave attribution to both students at her State of the University address recognizing their significance to the university.

“Ms. Brown and Ms. Smith are shining examples of the caliber of students that FAMU has been successful in producing over its rich 128-year legacy,” Mangum said. “I look forward to working with this dynamic duo as they spread the message of the value of not only HBCUs but also FAMU, which has played a significant role in closing the higher education gap for African-American and low-wealth students across the nation.”

Smith, a curriculum and instruction graduate student, considers the All-Star program an opportunity to network with other HBCU scholars to implement joint initiatives.

“I’m pro-HBCU,” Smith. “I love the mission and the purpose of HBCUs. Overall, I want to be a part of something bigger than me, and that is what HBCUs are all about. I wanted to do something that is great for FAMU, and that will bring HBCUs together and help them pool resources and thrive.”

Brown and Smith has started representing FAMU while attending the National HBCU week Conference along with President Mangum in Washington D.C. on Sept. 20.

For more information about the White House HBCU All-Star program, visit https://www.ed.gov/edblogs/whhbcu.