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Essay Submissions: Living the HBCU Legacy Posted on 07-31-2008

I am Totney Griar and I currently attend an HBCU, North Carolina Agricultural & Technical (NC A&T) in Greensboro, North Carolina. HBCUs have contributed to American history by educating and graduating people who have inspired and impacted the lives of African-Americans as well as all people. They have educated people such as Ronald McNair and Oprah Winfrey. Ronald McNair, a graduate of the school I currently attend, was a NASA astronaut and an American physicist. He was one of the astronauts upon the Challenger, which tragically ended on January 28, 1986, but his legacy still lives. A building was named in honor of him, which is now the School of Engineering building on our campus. His dreams and accomplishments soar through the minds of many, but especially young African-American engineers who may feel like giving up but are reminded that nothing is impossible and to always set their goals high, because it can be done. Oprah Winfrey, known for her internationally watched show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, is not only a media mogul but also someone who has overcome many obstacles and succeeded in many aspects. She is a graduate of Tennessee State University, where she studied communication on a full scholarship. From this point on, her success has been on the rise. She has become known as the youngest news anchor and the first black female news anchor in Nashville. But she did not just stop with here talk show, Oprah Winfrey has also starred in movies, started a production company, wrote books and magazines, radio stations, television networks and founded an all-girls school in Africa. Oprah is a true pioneer and an inspiration to all people. But as an African-American woman she has shown the world that no matter what you have gone through in life, also strive to be the best, never let anyone steer you away from your dream and always, always keep God first. Today, HBCUs are important because the United States has become more competitive that we have to perform at higher levels. Because schools in urban areas do not adequately prepare all students to compete, HBCUs seem to fill in the gap. They not only provide the academic assistance but they provide support and guidance to those who want to accept it. I am not saying that HBCUs are perfect but they are necessary for minority students to excel. I decided to attend an HBCU because I did not feel that my high school teachers were interested in me succeeding in life, if anything they wanted to keep me down. Although my parents were very supportive at home, I needed to be in a more supportive environment while in college. We can learn lessons by looking at the lives of famous graduates as well as looking at our own lives and sharing our stories with others. I am looking forward to completing my education at an HBCU and helping others to do the same. Thank you for considering me for this scholarship.

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