Submitted by Nikita Peden, Kimberlee Mander and Robin Wheeler
The Physical and Mental Health Awareness Committee of the Philadelphia Alumnae Chapter supported students and their families at the 24th Annual Malcolm Bernard HBCU College Fair in Philadelphia, on Nov. 16, 2022. The fair is the largest HBCU College Fair on the East Coast, attracting more than 12,000 students throughout the recruiting week with well over 1,500 people in attendance and over 40 participating HBCUs. Partnering with the School District of Philadelphia, 10 sorority members provided a Navigation Station to assist program participants through the college recruitment and scholarship process.
The Malcolm Bernard HBCU College Fair began with sorors greeting students and families as they entered the fair and assisting in college readiness workshops. Once college readiness workshops concluded, Philadelphia Alumnae sorors hosted a Navigation Station at the center of the fair. The Navigation Station was created to provide advocacy, direction, information and support to students and their families as they processed throughout the college fair. Sorors assisted students and their parents by serving as fair guides; assisting in college identification; reviewing essays, identifying major interests and preparing students to approach college counselors. Sorors also helped students and families identify financial aid and scholarship resources.
Volunteers at the Navigation Station hailed from various fields including education, social work, health and legal. Parents and students were especially thankful for having access to sorors who served both as advocates and role models. Students were able to ask questions about fields of interest; life in college, attendance at HBCUs and having personal advocates as they spoke with admissions counselors. Participants expressed interest in the return of the Navigation Station to future college fairs and opportunities to engage with sorority members in future college readiness events.
Sorors identified access and communication as key factors to increasing college readiness for both students and parents. Participants highlighted having a resource outside of their high school counselor made the difference. To continue connection of students and families to needed resources, referrals were made to Philadelphia Alumnae College and Career Readiness programs and Scholarship opportunities. Parents and families were made aware that the Philadelphia Alumnae Chapter is a resource within the community for ongoing support of student’s success, preparation and scholarship.
The committee received comments from the School District of Philadelphia, The HBCU College Fair staff and community members indicating that Navigation Station was a much needed and welcomed addition to an already great program, and the sorors were engaging, helpful and informative. Community members and staff stated that they looked forward to future endeavors where the Navigation Station could serve as a new and valuable resource. Finally, participating chapter members reported the event was rewarding and being given the opportunity to engage youth and their families was an excellent way to uphold the sorority’s commitment to scholarship and service.