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Emmanuella Kyllians of Alcorn State University named HBCU White House Competitiveness Scholar
Posted By: Reggie Culpepper on June 24, 2020

The 2020 White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities will include a representative from Alcorn State University.

Emmanuella Kyllians, a senior biology major from Nigeria, was selected as a 2020 HBCU Competitiveness Scholar for the 2020-2021 academic school year. Kyllians is one of 44 students from 33 HBCUs selected for the White House Initiative.

During this period, she will participate in personal and professional development workshops created by the Initiative. She will also spread awareness of White House Initiative outreach, engagement opportunities, and information and resources for students to explore.

Scholars are chosen based on their academic achievements, campus and civic involvement, and entrepreneurial ethos. Comprised of undergraduate, graduate, professional students, and international students from various academic backgrounds, the scholars were selected from among several highly distinguished HBCU students. Also, each recognized school was nominated and endorsed by their institution’s president.

President Felecia M. Nave spoke highly of Kyllians. She expressed her pride in her representation of the University.

“Emmanuella’s work ethic and character make her an excellent candidate to represent Alcorn in this initiative,” said Nave. “She epitomizes what it means to be a true Alcornite. She has displayed excellence in every aspect of her college journey. We are proud to have her represent us.”

The news surprised Kyllians, so much that she had to double-check the acceptance letter for clarity.

“It feels surreal,” said Kyllians. “When I first got the letter, I had to read it twice to be sure. Now that I’ve gotten over the shock, I am eager to take advantage of this opportunity.”

While the news may have shocked Kyllians, it was no shock to Felecia Pittman, the director of Career Services at Alcorn. Pittman, who is also one of Kyllians’ mentors, said that the achievement is a testament to her commitment to academic excellence and serving the Alcorn community.

“I’m so excited for Emmanuella and Alcorn,” said Pittman. “To be selected as a White House Initiative Scholar is an opportunity most will never have, but it fits Emmanuella because she is an extraordinary student. In addition to outstanding academics, she is engaged with the Alcorn community. I am confident that she will represent the University well and bring more positive attention to the great things Alcorn students have to offer.”

Providing information to her fellow Alcornites is essential for Kyllians. She plans to update students on enriching internship and career development opportunities that could secure their futures.

“I want to provide information," said Kyllians. "During my three undergraduate years, I’ve realized that having the right information equips you with knowledge and power. In my new capacity, I plan to share information on internships, webinars, and other opportunities through social media.”

Becoming a White House scholar has motivated Kyllians to be an inspiration to others. Her goal is to use her platform to encourage her peers and the younger generations to overcome any boundaries set before them.

“I am a firm believer that limits exist only in your mind. I saw this Initiative as an opportunity to create gender equality, inspire self-awareness, self-confidence, and self-worth. To accomplish these goals, I had to display confidence, eliminate limits, and recognize my worth.”

As Kyllians prepares to embark on her new journey, she’s excited to be one of many students to show the incredible talent produced at HBCUs across the country.

“HBCU representation in the White House is important because not only does it create diversity, but also it shows the vast talent that HBCUs produce around this country.”


Alcorn State University is a premier comprehensive land-grant university that develops diverse students into globally competitive leaders, and applies scientific research through collaborative partnerships that benefit the surrounding communities, state, nation, and world.

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