A Black Male Graduates High School with a 4.5 GPA. And Isn’t Going to an HBCU?

Ishmale Powell is headed to the University of North Carolina – Charlotte this fall, bringing with him a 4.5 GPA and a bunch of news headlines as one of Greensboro, NC’s most talented academic products.

From Because of Them We Can:

Powell, who applied for several scholarships, has yet to receive additional funding beyond “$3000 in Pell Grant and $6000 from the U-N-C system for his first year of college,” according to WFMY. In spite of his financial setback, Powell is still determined to start college in the fall, creating a GoFundMe campaign to raise the remaining amount needed for tuition and fees.

To help with costs, his father, Shawn Powell, who lives on a fixed disability income, has decided to move to Charlotte so that the young scholar can save money on housing and live with him while pursuing his college education.

Some HBCU advocates are calling for institutions to step in with counteroffers to help Powell avoid debt, and have a richer academic experience.

Shawn A. Hall on Twitter

@HBCUDigest @Becauseofthem 4/ I don’t know him and he didn’t ask me to help. When you see a house on 🔥, no one should HAVE to ask u to help

There’s a whole lot of backstory that we do not, and probably will not know about Powell and his HBCU prospects. Was he targeted by HBCUs and turned down admission or scholarship offers? Were his parents and advisors counseling him about HBCUs, or advising against them? Does Charlotte have a program that meets his desire to stay in North Carolina, to pursue a specific career path or both?

But here are the facts we know. For now, Powell is going to a PWI and has to find a way to pay for it. Black colleges are fighting bad narratives about the amount and profile of students we do admit, fueled by stories and stereotypes about lost paperwork, lack of scholarship resources, and increasing disinterest among high achieving students in HBCUs.

Is it too late to make Powell and his family an offer to steal him away from Charlotte? Would it help for an HBCU to come in at the 11th hour with an offer which even if accepted, underscores another stereotype about our schools being late to the party in targeting and attracting students like Powell? How many HBCUs believe that they can compete for students like him, especially against increased minority student recruiting interest from PWIs and mutual love from black students?

All questions that need answers, especially since we know that statistically, nine out of every ten black students in this country look at HBCUs, at least academically, as a Black Maybe.

Cue the music.

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