We’re giving you an inside look on how two HBCU students are trailblazing their paths to success. Get inspired and share your own campus come up story!
Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) were created in the 1800s to provide educational opportunities to people of African descent who were prohibited from attending existing institutions. HBCUs remain a vital part of our nation because they continue to outperform other institutions in retaining and graduating first-generation Black students. They also provide a unique culture and safe environment for Black students that builds confidence, fosters success, cultivates legacy, and celebrates Black pride.
Alumni of HBCUs across the nation are excelling in all fields including science, education, politics, the arts, medicine, and beyond. Toni Morrison, Vice President Kamala Harris, Sean Combs, Toni Braxton, Samuel L. Jackson, and thousands of other influential leaders and historical figures have attended our HBCUs. Here we share the experiences of Jordan Trusel and Christian Kornegay, two current students who continue this long legacy of Black excellence at HBCUs and how they have come up on campus.
Jordan Trusel, hailing from Detroit, is a rising junior and Dean’s List scholar majoring in Biology at Jackson State University. She shared that she was usually the only Black student in her class during grade school, middle and high school, and felt it important to immerse herself in Black culture as she moved into adulthood. She shared, “growing up in the suburbs and going to predominantly White and Asian schools, I had a lot of experiences and time to get comfortable working with people who didn’t look like me. I decided that I wanted my undergraduate experience to be spent in an environment that emphasized and embraced Black scholars and provided a campus that was also a home with students who could be my family. The underlying sense of commonality and shared culture was enough to make me want to become a HBCU student.” She is very active on campus and is currently running for student senate.
Recently, Trusel was selected as a Cricket Wireless Campus Ambassador, which Cricket Wireless awards to deserving students in honor of the rich history and critical role HBCUs play today. Through their HBCU Campus Ambassador program, students partner with self-motivated, business-minded college students to help them cultivate skills in digital marketing and entrepreneurship. In addition to personal benefits, the program offers HBCUs an attractive opportunity to offer students in the competitive arena that is college recruiting.
As an Ambassador, Jordan shares which Cricket Wireless products and services would best help her peers. “I might do an event to share information or gifts with the students. I am already part of our student government and this [ambassadorship] will help get my face recognized, develop people skills, and improve my marketing skills,” said Trusel. As you plan your come up, think about the organizations with which you can become involved that provide a platform for you to shine. Jordan is making moves in the classroom as well as capitalizing on additional opportunities like Cricket’s ambassador program to help build her network across campus and expand her career path.
Rising senior and first-generation college student Christian Kornegay, better known as “CDK on the Mic,” is majoring in Mass Communications at North Carolina A&T State University. Originally from Raleigh, NC, he chose to attend N. C. A&T because he grew up loving music and playing in school bands. Started in 1918 with a 50-piece band, A&T’s world renowned Blue & Gold Marching Machine has performed at Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, NASCAR + more. Ask any HBCU student, and they’ll tell you that during football games, half-time is game time! But soon after arriving on campus, Kornegay found that, beyond band, his real passion is in communications.
In addition to focusing on course work in communications, he extended his passion outside the classroom as an event host. Christian began his hosting career in 2017 at on-campus events and college parties across the state. In 2020 he was recognized by HBCU Buzz as the #1 HBCU host in the country and has collaborated with Watch the Yard’s Yard Con, the largest digital conference for Black college students. At only 22 years old, CDK is also a personality for 102 Jamz, the #1 Hip Hop radio station in Greensboro, North Carolina, as well as for the website HipHopDX. He learned at a young age to invest in himself and now has a team working with him to assist in his many projects. To come up like CDK, find your passion and follow it fiercely. Christian took what he learned in the classroom and quickly found ways to apply his skills in the real world to develop and refine them.
Attending an HBCU has been pivotal in the development of Jordan and Christian’s educational and personal growth and provided the platform for their campus come up, and beyond. On her plans post-grad, Trusel shared, “Whether psychiatry or law, I want to have a minority focused clientele and my HBCU experience has not only given me connections, but confidence by seeing so many brilliant, blossoming Black minds go into their chosen field and succeed. It is motivating to have people that look like me working hard and breaking down racial barriers in the workplace and I believe that will help me to be successful in whatever career I choose.” Kornegay eventually plans to own his own multi-media network. He shared, “during my time at an HBCU I’ve had the opportunity to build my brand as, “The #1 ranked HBCU Host”, leading to successful collaborations with amazing companies such as ABC News, Warner Music Group and now, Cricket. Once I transition into life post college it’ll be much easier to present my brand in a corporate light.”
We hope Jordan and Christian’s HBCU educational journeys will inspire yours. Tell us how you plan to execute your campus come-up in the comments below!