HBCU BUZZ ANNOUNCES THE LIST OF HONOREES FOR THE 2021 HBCU TOP 30 UNDER 30
HBCU BUZZ ANNOUNCES THE LIST OF HONOREES FOR THE
2021 HBCU TOP 30 UNDER 30
Memphis, Tennessee- November 4, 2021- HBCU Buzz announces its 2021 HBCU Top 30 Under 30 honorees, which honors the most talented young individuals in the HBCU community, this week. The highly anticipated annual program recognizes young professionals who have made noticeable contributions to their markets. “We’re thrilled to spotlight this year’s honorees as it reflects a great diversity of HBCU graduates in our community” said HBCU Buzz Founder & CEO Luke Lawal. “Each year, the Top 30 Under 30 are selected based on their exemplary devotion to their alma mater and impressive achievements to build a better future.” Founded in 2011, HBCU Buzz has grown its reputation as a media publication and full-service marketing agency with an impactful and vast growing social media platform. Through its connection to each Black campus and a commitment to amplifying Black excellence especially in the world of academia, HBCU Buzz recognizes historically Black colleges and universities’ finest. As the company has grown, the HBCU Top 30 Under 30 has spotlighted over 200 leaders in industry sectors that include entrepreneurs, media correspondents, attorneys, educators, health professionals, athletes and more.
The 2021 HBCU Top 30 Under 30 Recipients Include:
Randolph Ross Jr., North Carolina A&T University
Track and field is a family sport for Randolph Ross Jr., who is coached by his Olympian father at North Carolina A&T State University. So, it wasn’t a surprise when Ross, one of the world’s best 400 meter runners, made it to this year’s Olympics! Prior to qualifying for the iconic games, Ross was a trailblazer who helped to shatter records. Along with N.C. A&T’s Akeem Sirleaf, Trevor Stewart, and Daniel Stokes, Ross’s team had the fastest world time in the 4x400m with a time of 3:00.23 to qualify for the big games.
Rajah Caruth, Winston Salem State University
Winston-Salem State University sophomore Rajah Caruth developed a love for NASCAR at a very early age. He knew he wanted to be a racecar driver when he saw his first race in person at Richmond Raceway in Virginia at the age of 14. Now at not even 20 years old, he is on track to becoming the 8th African American in NASCAR history to make a national series debut. In 2022, the history-maker will race part-time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series team with “Alpha Prime Racing,” a venture with Caesar Bacarella and Tommy Joe Martins . Never missing an opportunity to work toward his dreams, he currently majors in Motorsport Management at WSSU.
Nia Page, Spelman College
Nia Page is a rising star in the political space, and she is working with leaders at our country’s highest levels. The recent Spelman College alumna has worked on the Joe Biden for President campaign, as well as for Congressman and Morehouse College alum Cedric Richmond, who now serves as Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement. Page’s time at Spelman laid a strong foundation for her career aspirations. She majored in International Studies and served as president of the Student Government Association. She interned with civil rights greats Congressman Elijah Cummings and Congressman John Lewis, who fueled her goals of advocacy. By her senior year in 2019, she had begun working with the Biden campaign. Notably, she helped create the campaign's national HBCU Students for Biden program, and became its co-chair and program lead. One of her proudest feats was planning the program’s Homecoming Week; where HBCU students from the AUC, now Vice President Kamala Harris, and more attended one of the week’s events. Page went on to become the Biden campaign’s National African American Program Coordinator. Additionally, Page was a student at the Harvard Graduate School of Education in the International Education Policy Program.
Terayle Hill, Clark Atlanta University
Terayle Hill is an actor, producer, musician, and entrepreneur. Hill was born in Pomona, California in 1994 and raised in Moreno Valley, California - before venturing over to Atlanta, Georgia where he graduated from Clark Atlanta University in 2016 with a Mass Media Arts Degree; with a concentration in Television and Film. Outside of acting, Terayle engages his time and energy in other areas of the entertainment industry. Since 2014, he's been directing and producing films that have garnered much attention and recognition in yearly film-festival circuits. One of his award-winning films, "Novella" (produced by Damn Write Originals) can currently be found on RevoltTV. Terayle has also brought his first love, rapping, to the main stage of television and film. He's landed a few musical placements in the film industry and television industry and most notably writes and performs music for the Starz television series "Step Up." Terayle also released his debut album, "Hyena" on February 21, 2021 and is available everywhere! When he is not in the studio, on set, or behind the camera, Terayle makes time to connect with the youth across the country. Since the loss of his brother Tevyn in August of 2018, Terayle has instituted a legacy scholarship award in his brother's name. Today, you can find Terayle progressing on his journey toward a higher truth to live by example and educate himself and others. Hill is the co-founder of the mulit-media enterprise, "Everybodies Inc,” and is on a daily pursuit of mastering his on-camera abilities.
Victor Solomon, North Carolina A&T University
You might hear Victor Solomon before you see him! At only 22 years old, this soulful singer finished in the top 5 contestants on the 20th season of NBC Universal’s popular show The Voice. With sultry singer John Legend as his coach, Victor mesmerized audiences and was an instant favorite who left viewers craving more. Ironically, Solomon won his 8th grade talent show by singing Legend’s hit “Ordinary People,” so to make it so far on the show was a well-earned full circle moment for him. Prior to his time on the show, you could hear his melodies at church. While he does sing well, many have come to know Victor Solomon for his leadership and engagement on campus at North Carolina A&T State University. He has made a name for himself with students and community leaders as Mr. N.C. A&T, and Mister HBCU 2021-22. He has served on the Student Government Association Executive Board. He is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. He began singing at the age of 6, so of course, he sings in the gospel choir on campus.
Quanera Hayes, Livingstone College
World-class track and field runner Quanera Hayes is a force to be reckoned with. Most recently, she competed in this year’s Olympics. Yet even before that, she broke records as a student-athlete at her alma mater Livingstone College. By the time she was a sophomore, she had become Livingstone’s first female NCAA champion. She then became the first woman at any Division II school to win three straight NCAA titles for outdoor 400 meter races. Hayes also became a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. After graduating, she didn’t stop her hustle! In 2016, she won the USATF National Championship, earning a bronze medal in the 400m and gold in the 4x400m relay. Hayes has in the past credited a coach in middle school who saw her potential and encouraged her to join the track team.The North Carolina native is also inspired by her young son Demetrius.
Ezinne Kalu, Savannah State University
Nigerian basketball star Ezinne Kalu was a star player at Savannah State University, and has kept her momentum up ever since. Ironically, Kalu eyed cheerleading as her sport of choice as a young girl, before her mother helped her to discover her love for basketball. She went on to become the first women’s basketball player in Division I history to score more than 1,000 career pointsned 1,607 career points and averaged 16 points per game. After her time at SSU, Kalu was recruited to play professionally in the European basketball league in Portugal, and then went on to play for Hungarian, German, and French teams. Born in Newark, New Jersey, Kalu has most recently graced the courts of this year’s Olympics, where she performed well with an average of 12.3 points, 4 rebounds and 3.7 assists.
Camerron Kyle Dexter Dangerfield, Alabama A&M University
Chef Cam, aka Camerron Dangerfield, is an Alabama A&M University alumnus taking the culinary world by storm. He prepared himself for a successful career as a celebrity chef, author, restaurant consultant, reality tv personality and entrepreneur when he decided to major in International Business. He has also made time to return to his alma mater to advance Food Science programs during its Community Health Fair, and conducted virtual cooking classes for Global Employee Health and Fitness Month. Chef Cam is a chef with lots of personality, and lots of accolades to back it up! He is a Food Network’s Cutthroat Kitchen Champion, a Georgia Chef of the Year honoree, and was a participating chef in seasons 9 and 10 of Master Chef, hosted by world renowned Chef Gordon Ramsey. He is also a Resident Chef on the NBC Universal daily talk show Sister Circle Live. Over time, the chef has worked with big brands like Anheuser Busch, Walmart’s Repurpose Brand, Bolthouse Farms, and more. Plus, he’s even written a few cookbooks! In the fall, Chef Cam even plans to open his first restaurant: “Brunch at CAM’s.” Chef Cam also has a philanthropic side. He created Chefs For Change to feed the less fortunate in food deserts and for families who experienced income loss during COVID-19. He challenged other chefs around the country to join his efforts, so that the reach extended further than his home state of Georgia. As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, he also serves as an advocate and Atlanta Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce rising star honoree. He continues to use his platform to bring communities together and produce executive events for like-minded creatives.
Trevor Stewart, North Carolina A&T University
Olympian Trevor Stewart is another hot shot on North Carolina A&T State University’s track team. He broke the 4x400m record with Randolph Ross Jr., Akeem Sirleaf, and Daniel Stokes to qualify for the Olympics, but there’s so much more to him. Despite having asthma, Stewart has collected titles like the 400m title at the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) outdoor championships. He also held the fastest 400m qualifying time at the NCAA Division I East Preliminary Round. He has twice finished top 4 in the nation for NCAA Championships for 400m races, including placing 2nd in the nation in 2019. Ultimately, Stewart is a two-time Olympic medalist, taking home 1 gold (4x400-meter relay) and 1 bronze (for the 4x400-meter mixed relay) during his trip to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics!
Mike Hamilton, Howard University If you’re a serious artist looking to have visibility in the industry, Mike Hamilton is the person you want to know. The cum laude Howard University alumnus and member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. has made a name for himself as the Senior Director of Commerce at Epic Records. Just in August Hamilton was recognized as one of Billboard's 2021 R&B/Hip-Hop Power Players. He was also honored in October 2020 by HITS Magazine as one of the music industry's Noisemakers. The impressive catalogue of R&B and hip-hop artists that Mike Hamilton oversees includes artists like Future, 21 Savage, Rick Ross, Travis Scott, and DJ Khaled. Plus, he’s boosted rising stars like GIVĒON, which he personally prides himself in after celebrating the artist early on. As a result, GIVĒON, who has 2 RIAA platinum singles and other accolades, was named an Apple Music Up Next artist in 2020, and became the face of Spotify’s Are & Be playlist rebrand. Hamilton worked in the same executive role at Atlantic Records, supporting the rollouts of Grammy-nominated albums like Cardi B’s Invasion of Privacy (the 2019 winner for Best Rap Album), Nipsey Hussle’s Victory Lap, Meek Mill’s Championships, and Janelle Monae’s Dirty Computer. Outside of work, Hamilton continues to advocate fearlessly for diversity and inclusion within the music industry. Among other endeavors, he is involved with #TheShowMustBePaused organization & helped to craft its “From Books to Boardrooms” virtual career fair during Black History Month, which paired college students from underrepresented communities with music industry professionals. He also sits on an internal task force at Sony Music that further helps underrepresented students realize their dreams in the challenging yet rewarding music industry.
Jasmine Butler, Bowie State University
Jasmine Butler is an award-winning events professional who in her spare time thrives as an entrepreneur. By day, the Bowie State University alumna is the Events Manager for the Center for a New American Security (CNAS). Having majored in Communications and Public Relations at Bowie State University, she has been able to showcase her ability to strategize events and campaigns, and capture strong engagement. In just a few short years, she has gone from Events Specialist at Marriott International where she managed over 300 events and meetings annually to Event Manager at CNAS, where she now manages budgets upwards of $200,000. Just this summer, CNAS recognized Jasmine Butler’s hard work by honoring her with the 2021 Bacevich Award for leaders in national security. It honors emerging leaders who show courage, integrity, and commitment to public service. Although CNAS keeps Jasmine Butler hard at work, she has ventured into entrepreneurship with 2 different businesses! She entered the beauty space with her unique lip gloss line Juicy By Jay. Prioritizing product quality over profits, she created a line with well-made vegan and cruelty-free products. The brand also has a philanthropic side. To stand with her community as a business woman, Jasmine donates a lip jelly to women in programs and facilities that protect them. Butler is also the CEO and Event Director of a second business: J. Butler Events, LLC. Based in Washington, D.C., Butler continues to bring on clients to plan, manage and execute special events, conferences, and more. Similar to what she does at CNAS, she handles everything about the event from invoicing, to contracts, to vendors, and day-of execution.
John T. Rose, Hampton University
John T. Rose is a dynamic young attorney taking the entertainment industry by storm, and his accolades speak for themselves. For one, the Hampton University alum is among the youngest attorneys ever to be honored on Billboard’s Top Music Lawyer list, and has been featured 2 years in a row. He has also been chosen for Variety’s Legal Impact list and named a 2020 Noisemaker by Hits Daily Double. Whether the case is against an award-winning entertainer, a rising star, or a major corporation, Rose is ready to fight to win. Rose has presided over many high-profile cases. He earned a victory for client Rick Ross in the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals after he was sued by 50 Cent for using “In Da Club” on a mixtape. The landmark win set a precedent, clearing the way for creators to sample music without permission on projects they aren’t profiting on. He has had lawsuits dismissed against labels Universal Music Group (UMG) and Def Jam. Also, clients of John and his team have been able to negotiate and secure seven-figure deals with companies like Facebook, Bleacher Report, BET, and Sprite. Rose also entered a groundbreaking joint venture with renowned music photographer Cam Kirk with Atlantic Records. Kirk is not only a client of Rose’s but also a fellow member of this year’s HBCU Buzz Top 30 Under 30. Together, they sign and develop visual content creators, offering a full-service creative division to use as a resource. When he’s not fighting cases or closing deals, Rose often uses his voice to advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion in the entertainment industry. Mainly, he uses his membership and connections with BESLA, or the Black Entertainment and Sports Lawyers Association, the largest professional organization of its kind to be a vessel. During the racial reckoning of the pandemic he brought Black creatives amazing opportunities to showcase their talent and create content for big names in the music industry through his photography label collective gallery. Rose frequently volunteers his time as a speaker on professional, business and music industry topics to groups such as 100 Black Men of Atlanta, Tuskegee University’s 8th Annual Men’s Leadership Conference and Black Law Student Association chapters at universities in and around Atlanta and throughout the South.
Mike Carney, Howard University
If you’re looking for a connector in the entertainment industry who has helped craft some of the best events in music, then you may be looking for Mike Carney. The Howard University alumnus earned his BA in Economics, but soon learned that he could make a career out of uniting people and exciting experiences. Currently, Carney thrives in the Booking department at the famous Live Nation Entertainment. Yet his coordination experience can be traced all the way back to his time at The Howard Theatre, where he served as Homecoming Coordinator for a year and then Events and Partnership Assistant for the next year. He then entered the music industry in Atlanta as an executive assistant to the co-CEO of Grand Hustle Records. While there, he coordinated and facilitated events like Grand Hustle Weekend, BET Weekend, and more. He then moved on to record label LVRN, helping to launch their flagship studio in Atlanta. The experience opened him up to tour management and operations with artist 6black’s Free 6lack Tour and DRAM during Kendrick Lamar’s The DAMN. Tour. By prioritizing focus, humility, and integrity, Mike Carney will continue to move higher and higher up the ladder at his own pace! He has had his hand in booking for big festivals like Broccoli City, The Roots Picnic, and H.E.R.’s Lights On Festival, plus specialty shows for Amazon, Michelle Obama, Youtube, BET, Budweiser, and more. You can find him and his team forging unique opportunities for urban content, developing up and coming Hip Hop and R&B artists, and beyond.
Chidi Okezie, Hampton University
Double Hampton University graduate Chidi Okezie has lived and breathed track and field all his life. He earned many accolades at his alma mater. He has been recognized several times by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association, and has made several All-American teams. Most recently, Okezie’s talents allowed him to qualify for this year’s 2020 Olympics. In fact, Okezie competed in a way contenders rarely do: he had the opportunity to compete for 3 different countries! He has a Jamaican mother, a Nigerian father, and was ultimately raised in the United States, in Philadelphia. He made his choice diplomatically, considering the unity that could come from Nigerians in Africa and America rooting for the same athlete. While his team didn’t qualify to run in the actual Olympics due to a tragic blunder of no fault of his own, his Mixed 4x400 relay team set a national record time for Nigeria at 3:14:09 when they competed to qualify for the Olympics in Lagos.
Jahliel Thurman, Virginia State University
Host and executive producer Jahliel Thurman stepped onto the campus of Virginia State University with a full academic scholarship and a level of determination that has since paid him 1,000 times over. While majoring in Mass Communications with a focus in Television, he chose to become a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. and became president of the Nu Psi chapter. He served as the SGA Vice President for two years, eventually becoming SGA President in his senior year. He then graduated from VSU magna cum laude. Thurman’s love for HBCUs and his goal to ensure they were positively represented and discussed led him to create the Yard Talk 101 digital marketing agency. Putting his mass communication skills to work, the VSU alum created a path for HBCU students and alumni to have meaningful conversations that extend beyond their campuses and communities to major corporations and beyond. Yard Talk 101 has collaborated with companies and organizations like the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, the Shawn Carter Foundation, Cigna, and Toyota. In addition to the valuable marketing work being done at Yard Talk 101, Jahliel Thurman also hosts and executive produces a television series about HBCUs and trailblazing alumni for AsprieTV. Aptly named “HBCU 101,” the show has featured actress Keisha Knight-Pulliam, film producer Will Packer, actor, host and entrepreneur Terrence J, and more!
Sidnee Michelle Douyon, Howard University
You can count Sidnee Michelle Douyon as one of the most gifted storytellers of our generation. She has blazed the entertainment industry as a reporter, journalist, producer, editor, and media and pop culture guru for close to a decade. Originally from Brooklyn, the Howard University alumna got her start writing and reporting for her alma mater. Determined, she climbed her way from being an on-camera personality at The Source Magazine to Forbes Magazine’s first-ever woman of color to ever report on camera. Douyon now works as a freelance journalist with interviews under her belt from the likes of Michelle Obama, Samuel L. Jackson, Cardi B., Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Eddie Murphy, and more! She is also one half of the famous travel blog Black Travel Journey. In her free time, she pays it forward mentoring Howard students through Howard’s Entertainment Group, which is powered by Amazon.
Taylor Johnson, South Carolina State Unive Taylor Reeanna Johnson is an ambitious television writer and actress who has enjoyed storytelling since she was a child. Her third grade teacher’s assignment to write an essay about Martin Luther King, Jr. unlocked her love for writing. She honed her craft by attending South Carolina State University, where she received a BA in Communications and Journalism. She then went on to earn her Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. She went on to found Vir Madera Productions, a company that uplifts other writers, actors, directors, producers, and more professionals of color, giving them a community to call their own. Over time, Johnson’s career has taken her from BET, to OWN, Aspire TV, and more television networks.
Maya Allen, Howard University
If you have somewhere to go and want to look effortlessly fly, find Maya Allen! The writer, director, beauty director and Howard University graduate is a woman on the move. She is currently the beauty director for In Style Magazine, overseeing all of the magazine’s beauty coverage! In the past she has worked with big brands like Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, and Byrdie. Allen first found her purpose in the beauty industry when she looked through her mother’s beauty magazines as a kid. She began collecting them herself, and found an issue with the fact that she had difficulty finding people who looked like her. Determined to lead the change that she wanted to see, she interned every summer in college at leading magazines in New York. While there the Journalism major and African American Studies minor learned all she could from accomplished editors there. Since showcasing her dedication as a young college student, Allen’s writing has appeared in magazines like Essence, In Style and O, The Oprah Magazine, and more. Always a fan of beauty and fashion, Allen is known for her bold style and impressively large collection of at least 200 red lipsticks!
Alexandria Washington, Florida A&M University
What doesn’t Dr. Alexandria Washington do? She’s an award winning health advocate, TEDx speaker, a former Miss Black Florida US Ambassador, three-time FAMU grad. The Rattler received her BS in Health Science, Master of Public Health, and Doctor of Public Health all from Florida A&M University. With work that has spanned governmental and non-profit sectors, Dr. Washington is motivated by a designer to positively change her community from its foundation. She currently works as a federal contractor with the Administration for Children and Families.She has had a wide-reaching impact, serving as a Miss Black Florida US Ambassador, where she used her platform to advocate for people suffering from often-overlooked health conditions like Sickle Cell Disease and Sickle Cell Trait. Dr. Washington was one of twenty women in the inaugural cohort of United State of Women Ambassadors as well, where she advocated for gender equality in Tallahassee. Notably, she was recognized by Forbes for her work encouraging the city’s commissioner’s decision to remove gender-neutral language from the City Charter and other governing documents, which was done in 2019!
Gregory Tyrone Wright Jr., Bowie State University
Gregory T. Wright Jr., LGPC is dedicating his life to the pursuit of mental health, social equity, and combating the miseducation of marginalized cultures. Among many things, he is a Licensed Graduate Professional Counselor, entrepreneur, and member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Wright is also an Adjunct Professor at Bowie State University and has also volunteered his time to tutor young men and women that are incarcerated. He is a 2-time HBCU graduate, having earned his BS in Psychology and his Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Bowie State University. Wright created the brand “The Wright Mindset” to provide services and therapeutic products that make personal and relationship experiences easier to unpack. With his game “It’s Levels To This Ship,” players can ask their significant other questions to get to know them on a deeper level. The questions include inquiries like “how do I know that you are reliable,” “do I touch you enough,” and “what was the last time you considered ending our relationship.” Although blunt at times, the game offers self reflection as well as elusive relationship transparency through three different levels. Having built a successful brand for himself, Wright has spoken all over the country to share his perspective. With expertise in mental health counseling, psychological assessment, research methodologies and more, he is influencing others to take a holistic approach to mental health advocacy. Over the years, he has won awards spanning across organizations that support HBCU retention, clinical research, and educational leadership. Gregory hopes to continue the push towards breaking the stigma surrounding mental health and introducing non-traditional ways to provide human services.
Charlyne Smith, Coppin State University
Dr. Charlyne Smith was born and raised in St. Catherine, Jamaica. She moved to the United States at the age of 17 to pursue a career in science and technology with the goal of developing clean energy solutions for current and future generations. She graduated summa cum laude from Coppin State University in Baltimore, Maryland as a double major in Chemistry and Mathematics. She went on to obtain her master’s degree in Nuclear Engineering from the University of Florida (UF) and more recently became the first black woman to graduate with a PhD in Nuclear Engineering from the UF. Dr. Smith’s PhD research contributed to the advanced characterization and post irradiation examination of nuclear materials by using several microscopy techniques and image analysis to study their microstructural response post-irradiation in reactor environments. During her PhD, she authored and co-authored five peer-reviewed journal manuscripts; received three research proposal awards totaling ~$150k; presented at eight professional conferences and mentored six undergraduate students. Dr. Smith is currently a distinguished postdoctoral associate at the Idaho National Laboratory where she is performing research that contributes to demonstrating and securing nuclear energy solutions. She is also actively engaged in nuclear energy advocacy efforts with several non-profit organizations including the Generation Atomic, Students for Nuclear and Mothers for Nuclear organizations. Her long-term career goals are to introduce nuclear energy technology to the Caribbean as well as to build a STEM-based high school in Jamaica. In her spare time, she enjoys painting, hiking, and spending time with her family.
Dr. DeVonte D. Johnson, Tennessee State University
When it comes to keeping your lifestyle up, people often think about working out, and eating right. But what about your oral health? Dr. Devonte D. Johnson, an alumnus of Tennessee State University, is making sure that’s something we don’t forget. The son of a craniofacial surgery nurse and barber, Dr. Johnson chose dentistry for the impact that the profession could have on people’s self esteem. The earlier people start taking care of their teeth, the better they’ll look and feel. So the creative dentist has made two lifestyle brands “Protect Your Teeth” and “We Must Stay Healthy” to make oral health more appealing to his community. Protect Your Teeth is a creative outreach campaign that takes into account the everyday health challenges of young people. For example, it helps educate children on what to do if a tooth is accidentally knocked out while playing sports. Alternatively, the We Must Stay Healthy brand merges music, fashion, entertainment, and education to make oral health more appealing for young people. Dr. Johnson is also a philanthropist, having co-founded Menergi. The start-up focuses on helping diver non-profits receive more funding and resources to have the impacts on our communities that they set out to have.
Candace Chambers, Jackson State University
Candace Chambers is an award-winning educator, public speaker, and author who has made it her mission to uplift communities of color through education and purpose. She has earned numerous awards, including the Carolyn P. Handa Excellence in Teaching Award from the University of Alabama, the Scholar from the Dream Award by the National Council for Teachers of English, the President’s Future Leader Award by the International Writing Centers Association and more. She was also an HBCU All Star through the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and has earned over $1 million in scholarships, grants, and assistantships. Currently, the Jackson State University alumna teaches English composition at a community college, and also teaches incarcerated students at a university. She has gone to Dillard University, Spelman College, and more schools across the nation about college prep and writing scholarship essays. She is also an entrepreneur who founded Educational Writing Services LLC to provide editorial and college coaching services to students and professionals. She has also written the guidebook “Write Your Way To A Successful Scholarship Essay” to help others when she can’t directly. Through all of this, the multi-faceted educator credits Jackson State with giving her the educational foundation she needed to thrive.
Mulbe Marcellus Dillard IV, Florida A&M University
Professional golfer Mulbe Marcellus Dillard IV once expressed his feelings for golf as a “a very, very strong love for the game.” He was first exposed to golf by his father, who brought him to a range when he was 2. By 5 he played in tournaments. After high school he committed to Florida A&M University to bring his talents to the team. He also established his own place to teach others in his community at an accessible price: “The Mulbe Dillard Golf Academy.” He learned to juggle, balancing school work, his own practices, and frequently booked lessons through his academy. Dillard has done well for himself as a young golfer. He has earned a sponsorship to amateurly compete in the APGA Tour’s summer circuit. Late last year, he also ranked number one in the country for the APGA’s ranking of black golfers in the NCAA. Dillard hopes to ultimately earn a spot in the PGA Tour. With his golf career taking off, and considerations of graduate school, Dillard is only getting started!
Tamerras Leonard - Texas Southern University Tamerras Leonard is an up and coming journalist whose early success has led her to explore reporting and marketing management. To date, she has interviewed big names like Travis Scott, Kahlana Barfield, Congressman Beto O’Rourke, and Roland Smith. Yet none of her accomplishments are surprising, because she was already such a powerhouse in college. While at Texas Southern University, Leonard chartered the third chapter of Women of G.O.L.D. at TSU, an organization that offers motivation, mentorship, and life skill development to young women. She served as Director of Marketing at the TSU Herald, which is Texas Southern’s official newspaper. She also became a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Starting off as an intern at ABC News, Tamerras has worked her way up. Her next stop was Production Assistant. She then became an Associate Producer for the star-studded Soul of a Nation tv mini series, which featured Common, Taraji P. Henson, Carmeo Anthony, Marsai Martin, Sterling K. Brown, and more. She has now been accepted into the highly selective ABC News Fellowship program, where 10 people from the entire company are able to do rotations in each department, plus shows in the newsroom.
Tahir Murray, Howard University
Fashion-forward celebrities and major companies like Nike have been clamoring for the clothing line of Howard University alum Tahir Murray. The third-generation entrepreneur has built an HBCU fashion empire with his line Legacy History Pride. In fact, Murray grew up appreciating fashion considering his grandfather was the first Black sneaker shop owner to secure a Nike account! His father was one of the first streetwear designers to hit the fashion scene. Also, his mother and sister are HBCU graduates! Murray celebrates HBCUs with the 3 pillars of the brand’s title. The brand celebrates the “legacy” of HBCUs with classic styles, honoring the legacy HBCUs provide to educate generations of African Americans. The designs of the brand honor the “history” of HBCUs by incorporating historic people, places, and things that are the backbone of HBCU culture. Lastly, the “pride” aspect honors Murray’s own family’s entrepreneurship journey. With every sale, the brand gives licensing profits to the HBCUs featured on the apparel, and it also partners with students and alumni at these HBCUs to offer scholarships!
Jeremy Peaches, Prairie View A&M University
Jeremy Peaches works to leave our earth better than he found it. Spending time outside with plants and animals was always therapeutic to him, and seeing fields was something he missed when his family moved from Mississippi to the city of Houston when he was a boy. By the time Peaches arrived at Prairie View A&M University, his love for nature hadn’t changed at all. He majored in Agriculture, setting him up for the birth of his now booming agriculture consulting, service, and farm company Fresh Life Organic (FLO). When Houston began to grow an organic food scene sometime around his 2015 graduation, FLO was the perfect move. Peaches was able to become an Agriculture Consultant at FLO to assist landowners, companies, farms, garden, schools, and more in Houston’s growing organic food movement. FLO specializes in operations, row crop farming, aquaponics/hydroponics. risk management, and marketing agriculture products. The company sells organic vegetables to the community, restaurants, and more, in addition to maintaining farms, gardens, and greenhouses. Even after all of this, he has co-founded Black Farmer Box with fellow PVAMU alumna Ivy Wells. Together, the two have created a system that dismantles food deserts, distributing fresh produce to communities in Houston and beyond.
Ernest Holmes, Morehouse College Coding is difficult, but the earlier you are introduced to it, the better. This was the lesson Ernest Holmes learned, and he’s taken a hands-on approach to mentor students of color with his company CodeHouse. The New Jersey native majored in Computer Science and Mathematics at Morehouse College to prepare himself for a career where he could one day do what he loved and serve others. Before he even graduated, he had racked up offers from Microsoft, Salesforce, Chick-fil-a, and Clorox. He ultimately chose to become a software engineer at Google, where he had previously completed three internships at the company. While there aren’t many who look like him in his field, he is doing the work it takes to change that. He grew up in a predominantly white neighborhood, and grew to appreciate the value of diversity especially at Morehouse. His experience ultimately led him to establish CodeHouse, where he serves as President and Co-Founder. The non-profit is closing the diversity gap by preparing for internships and work in coding, while also facilitating a pipeline for them to be employed at leading tech companies. Aside from wanting to help others, in the bigger plan, Holmes plans to continue to lead the way by becoming an innovative leader in technology in his own right.
Charity Croff, Wiley College
Charity Croff is not just an influencer, but an experience. He is an inspiring content creator, rapper, producer, and fashion designer, among many other things. Through his social media and other outlets, he works to encourage others to find their own unique way to harness their infinite potential. While at Wiley College he studied physics and music, and was a member of the debate team. He has amassed over 300 million views on social media advocating for his followers to be their best selves through empathy, critical thinking, and self awareness. Croff created a monthly letter called the Genius Factory. He has also set up a Patreon, where he encourages followers to get special information like book recommendations, articles, music, educational videos and more. With Croff’s engaging and welcoming personality, he makes it easy to theorize and discuss social issues like race, gender, theology, and the environment.
Darius Leonard, South Carolina State University Some dream their whole life about making it to the NFL. The league is full of the best football players in the world, so the competition is stiff. But for South Carolina State University graduate Darius Leonard, it not only pays to be the best, it pays to be the best of the best! With his hard work, this year Leonard became the highest paid linebacker in the NFL. He wasted no time in climbing his way to the top after being chosen in the 2018 NFL draft. His deal with the Indianapolis Colts signed him on for 5 years worth a whopping $99.2 million, with $52.5 million guaranteed.
According to sports data company PFF, Leonard is one of four linebackers in the entire league who has held onto a 70.0 on at least 500 defensive snaps every season since joining the league. With Leonard on the field, his team has had stronger coverage and blitzes. Leonard, a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., is now set to make about $20 million a year.
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