Students from more than 70% of HBCUs will take part in the White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity through Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Among those participants will be Ezeji Nwanaji-Enwerem and Taya Davis from North Carolina Central University (NCCU).
Nwanaji-Enwerem and Davis will take part in a White House program that aims to improve communities, strengthen democracy and grow the economy.
But it’s not all selfless. Participants will also have an opportunity to network with leaders in nonprofits, business and federal agencies.
“What I can do to help out the community overall?” asks Nwanaji-Enwerem, a biomedical science major from Charlotte. He adds, “I am really interested in the networking aspect and talking to leadership while also being able to circulate ideas among (other student participants).”
Nwanaji-Enwerem and Davis will attend a conference titled “Raising the Bar: Forging Excellence through Innovation & Leadership” from Sept. 24–28 in Crystal City, Virginia. While the agenda had not been finalized by publication, previous conferences have included such activities as a tour of the White House, a visit to Capitol Hill where they spoke with long-term African American representatives and a visit to the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
“It’s really the networking and connecting and community building,” said Karen Keaton Jackson, Ph.D., a professor of English and director of the University Honors Program. “It’s beyond a meet and greet but letting the students feel they have a community of the like-minded and professionals who want to help them and mentor them.”
The conference will include a competition where students develop ideas to commercialize intellectual property from NASA. Later in the conference, students will have the opportunity to present their ideas in-person at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
Nwanaji-Enwerem and Davis are high achievers. Both are Cheatham-White scholars. Nwanaji-Enwerem has conducted research in sleep deprivation at Harvard University, Covid research at Duke University and in pathology research at a private genetics firm. He intends to become a medical doctor.
Davis, who is from Alpharetta, Georgia, is majoring in biomedical sciences. She has been president of the University Honors Program, is president of Science African Americans Majors Evolving (SAAME) and will serve as a director of academic affairs. She has volunteered with Mobilizing African American Mothers through Empowerment (MAAME). She looks forward to interacting with her peers at the conference.
“Being able to talk to other students and find out what is going on at their schools and the opportunity to bring that back to Central,” Davis said.
Davis intends to focus on molecular medicine research and attend physician assistant school so she can focus on clinical trials.