Mu Epsilon Omega Chapter’s ASCEND program kicked off in style on September 24, 2016, at the administration building of the Santa Ana Unified School District, with eleven bright scholars representing cities in Orange and Los Angeles counties. A warm welcome was extended to all in attendance by MEO vice-president Deidra Powell and ASCEND Chairman Tifani Bradley, followed by a special greeting from MEO’s own Dr. Stefanie Phillips. Dr. Phillips is the first African-American to head the Santa Ana Unified School District, and first African-American female to lead a school district in Orange County. We were greeted with fresh new faces and familiar ones who had matured a great deal over the summer. Central to the day’s agenda was our focus on AKAs Think HBCU national campaign, in addition to developmental and enrichment workshops.

HBCU Panel & Discussion

Nine HBCU alums shared their college experiences, highlighted the value of an HBCU education and historic contributions made to society. A variety of our very best were represented with great pride and fond memories. A special thanks to the following MEO members and guests who participated on the panel: Julisa Diaz (Grambling), Erica Melson (Tuskeegee), Zia Burleigh (Virginia State), Candyce Pecott (Xavier),Teri Davis (Fisk), and Moderator and ASCEND Chairman Tifani Bradley (Howard). We’d also like to thank Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. members Kelvin Bunn (Morehouse College) and Zakee Neblett (Paul Quinn College, Prairie View A&M University), in addition to guest Taneesa Bunn (Kentucky State University).

Once the panel concluded, HBCU speakers and students gathered in small groups to further their discussion in a more intimate setting. Students were able to share their questions and concerns about attending an HBCU. ASCEND students were full of thoughtful questions and insights. Our “Think HBCU,” mission was accomplished.

Time Management & Study Skills

MEO member, Dr. Michelle Flowers shared the following thought, “Your mindset shapes your outcomes.” Students were quick to share their thoughts on its meaning. They clearly understood that you can learn anything, if you put your mind to it. Putting this understanding into action is the first step in life-long learning. “Sometimes I procrastinate,” one student said. “I study for my tests a week in advance and not the night before,” said another. Our students learned how to manage their time more wisely and the importance of focusing on their academics. They didn’t stop there, in a pairing activity, they shared successful strategies they have put into practice. It sounds like our kids are ahead of the curve when it comes to college readiness.

Team Building & Problem Solving

What good is talent if you don’t know how to share or put it to good use. An essential skill in the 21st century is the ability to work with others to achieve a specific goal. In life and work we are faced with challenges and problems that require us to work together.  MEO member Racquel Welch-Kitchen challenged our young people with a problem-solving activity. Students were tasked with moving 25 marbles from one plate to another with just eight sheets of paper. This activity required them to communicate with one another, develop a plan of action, fail and try, try, and try again. In the end, they laughed, solved the problem and made new friends