After hundreds of hours of studying, countless practice matches and almost a year of preparation, a team of students from North Carolina Central University will head to Torrance, Calif., to take on the reigning national champion, Morgan State University, at the Honda Campus All Star Challenge, an intense academic competition among the best and brightest students from Historically Black College and Universities. The National Championship Tournament takes place April 7–8 on the campus of American Honda Motor Co.
The returning members from NCCU’s 2012 varsity team are Xian Brooks, a senior public health education major from Louisville, Ky., and Victoria Jones, a junior chemistry major from Raleigh. Brooks has been selected as captain. Both are in their second year of national competition. The new members of the varsity team are Lorenzo Fowler II, a junior English (pre-law) major from Passaic, N.J., and Zuri Gurganious, a freshman history major from Castle Hayne, N.C. They are challenged in practice by three additional team members: DeAndre Carter, a junior political science and geography major from Durham; Ashley Roberts, a sophomore mathematics major and AFROTC cadet from Reidsville, N.C.; and Jelaina Shipman, a freshman criminal justice and psychology major from White Oak, N.C.
The club is advised by Dr. Caesar R. Jackson, interim dean of the School of Graduate Studies and the interim director of the Ph.D. program in Integrated Biosciences, and coached by Christopher A. Graves, now in his 10th year. They are assisted by Clayton C. Mack Jr. and Dr. Janice Dargan, along with several members of the NCCU faculty and staff members as well as alumni volunteers.
NCCU is one of the most successful schools in this competition. The university’s team has advanced to the national finals twice (2006, 2009), the Final Four three times (1994, 1997, 2010) and the Elite Eight twice (1993, 2011).
“The NCCU Honda Challenge team is my family away from home,” said Victoria Jones. “We’re a team — from the coaches and players to the faculty and alumni volunteers. I have grown so much from last year to now. Learning is a continuous process; it never stops.”
More than 250 students from 18 states representing 48 HBCUs will take part in the national tournament. A win will not only give them bragging rights as the nation’s top academic HBCU, but will also give them the opportunity to win a share of the more than $300,000 in institutional grants awarded annually by Honda, including the grand prize of $50,000. The grand prize, along with the other institutional grants, will support academic activities at the participating HBCUs. The two-day competition will test students’ knowledge of history, science, literature, religion, the arts, social science, and popular culture.
The Honda Campus All Star Challenge is one of Honda’s largest and longest-running philanthropic initiatives in the United States. In its 23-year tenure, the program has touched more than 100,000 students and awarded more than $7 million in grants.
For more information on the Honda Campus All Star Challenge and a list of the 48 participating HBCUs, please go to www.HCASC.com.