Four Arkansans Named 2021 HBCU Scholars

Selected students will participate in national events and monthly classes.

Group of five Black college students studying at a bench with laptop and notebooks.

The White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities today announced its eighth cohort of HBCU Scholars. This program recognizes 86 undergraduate, graduate and professional students for their accomplishments in academics, leadership, civic engagement and more, according to a press release.

Recipients from Arkansas include:

* Aaron Slater from Little Rock who attends Arkansas Baptist College

* Spencer Jones from Marion who attends Dillard University 

* Alexandria Williams from North Little Rock who attends Jackson State University

* DeShawn Barnes from West Memphis who attends Lane College

Currently enrolled at 54 of the nation’s HBCUs, the scholars were selected from an applicant pool of more than 200 students.

“The HBCU Scholars announced today all have demonstrated remarkable dedication to their learning and exemplify the talent that our nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities have nurtured for generations,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “The students who hold this honor are committed to creating a more just and equitable society through their civic engagement. They are leaders and changemakers in their communities, and I cannot wait to learn from them as they serve as ambassadors both for the White House Initiative and their institutions of higher education.” 

The program will provide scholars with information about the value of education as well as networking opportunities. Scholars can also share these resources with their fellow students.  

This cohort of HBCU Scholars will also participate in national and regional events, and monthly classes with HBCU Scholar program coordinator Elyse Jones, Initiative staff and other professionals from a wide range of disciplines. 

All HBCU Scholar events are designed to connect HBCU students with nonprofit, business and federal leaders to discuss professional development while identifying challenges and providing equitable solutions to barriers that HBCU students face when preparing and entering the 21st century workforce.

“Supporting the next generation of student leaders who will continue their education and graduate from HBCUs has been the highlight and joy of my career with the Initiative” Jones said. “It is my honor to announce these 86 students who will continue to make meaningful contributions to our country. Each student selected into this program has demonstrated their commitment to their academic achievements and improving their communities. I look forward to working with them as partners. I can’t wait to see what they will do as leaders.”

Selected HBCU Scholars will be invited to the 2021 HBCU Week National Annual Conference, which will take place Sept. 7-10. This year’s conference theme is “Exploring Equity.” 

During their time at the conference, they will participate in sessions about entrepreneurship, innovation, and personal and professional development. They will also have opportunities to engage with one another and showcase their individual and collective talent across the HBCU community.