Sacred Hearts Academy  |   Honolulu, Hawaii

Ka Leo

Sacred Hearts Academy  |   Honolulu, Hawaii

Ka Leo

Sacred Hearts Academy  |   Honolulu, Hawaii

Ka Leo

Black Girl Here

Is an HBCU for you?
Olivia+Bruce+19+represents+her+alma+mater+and+HBCU+school%2C+Spelman+College.+An+HBCU+is+a+historically+black+college%2Funiversity+that+promotes+black+excellence.+Bruce+is+a+product+of+black+excellence%2C+as+she+continues+to+further+her+studies+at+Notre+Dame+to+receive+her+Ph.D.+in+physics.+
Olivia Bruce ’19 represents her alma mater and HBCU school, Spelman College. An HBCU is a historically black college/university that promotes black excellence. Bruce is a product of black excellence, as she continues to further her studies at Notre Dame to receive her Ph.D. in physics.

BlackGirl Here,

I grew up in Hawaii as one of few black girls in my school, so for college, I knew that I wanted to go away but not just to any college. I wanted to go to a college where I could be around more people like me. I applied to seven colleges this year. My dream school, however, has always been Howard University in Washington, D.C. It is not only part of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) but also a school known for its impressive acting program. Long story short, I got into Howard and will be majoring in theatre arts with a concentration in acting next school year.
HBCUs were established before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 with the intention of serving African Americans by providing institutions for higher education. Most HBCUs were created two years after the Emancipation Proclamation in 1867. Today, HBCUs still continue to promote black educational excellence. HBCUs enroll students of other races as well.
Because where I am headed will be so different from Hawaii, I interviewed 2019 Sacred Hearts Academy graduate Olivia Bruce for insight. She just graduated with a degree in physics from an HBCU institution called Spelman College. It is located in Atlanta, Georgia. Currently, Bruce is working to earn her doctoral degree in nuclear physics at the University of Notre Dame.
When applying to college, applying to an HBCU or a non-HBCU college can be a big decision, as there are many different factors.
“After I got accepted, I started doing research and learning more about the history of the college and realized that this would be a great place to learn more about my history as an African American,” Bruce said.
From my experience, the history of African Americans were short and sugar-coated lessons in school. Bruce agrees.
“In school in Hawaii, we never really talked about African Americans (in depth), unless we were talking about the Civil War or slavery,” said Bruce, adding that attending an HBCU would mean she “would be able to learn more than two pages that is talked about in history books.”
Bruce discussed how when she first attended Spelman, she experienced something so different.
“There was a culture shock…(I went) from going to a place where I was the minority to being in a college where (I was part of) the majority,” she said.
Being in a new environment also affected her musical preference.
“In high school, I wasn’t really into rap, R&B or afro beats music,” she said. “That quickly changed once I went to college, which is totally fine because (I got) to learn about different genres.”
“Another shock for me was going from seeing hula performances at every function to going to a place where sororities and fraternities strolling/stepping is a big thing,” she said.
Strolling/stepping, which frequently occurs at HBCUs, is a step routine in fraternities that shows off the bond between members and African American culture and roots.
Somehow, home was there but in a different shape and form, and says, “If you go to an HBCU, just go with an open mind and be willing to learn about many different traditions and values that people have.”
Applying to an HBCU rather than a PWI (Predominantly White Institution), or a college/university with a majority white student population, is important.
“You’ll get a one of a kind education that you wouldn’t be able to get at a PWI,” she said. “There will be required courses that will focus on African Americans, and our history of black people that usually wouldn’t be discussed in a normal class,” Bruce said. “(You’ll) learn more about your history (from) books written by black authors and be able to discuss it in a safe environment.”
When speaking with Bruce, I especially wanted to find out if an HBCU benefitted her strive as a black woman in the workforce.
“I feel like it helped me to become more confident in myself and not give into the ideas that the world wants to put us into (the workforce) as women,” Bruce said. She also stated that Spelman helped her “grow a strong backbone,” so she could stand her ground and show her capabilities.
In the near future, Bruce plans to “become a professor, and start a program that helps mainly high school girls and people of color prepare and be comfortable with majoring in a STEM field in college.” Bruce also says, “Plus if there aren’t that many (people of color)  in your work field that just means that you have to be a trailblazer so that there is a path for people after you to follow.”
She said that if she did plan to go to a PWI, she wouldn’t continue being a physics major, as she would feel intimidated because of the lack of people of color.
As a black girl in Hawaii, Howard University is going to bring me every thing I’ve ever desired for a successful future. Being around people who look like me will promote excellence in all of us.
Bruce agrees.
“Being in classes with other black women helped me to realize that we are all here to support each other, even if we take different paths in life,” she said.

 

 

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About the Contributor
Malaika Ssebayiteko is a senior at Sacred Hearts Academy and hopes to pursue screen acting with a minor in broadcast Journalism in college. In this class, Malaika hopes to learn how to spread news accurately to help assist others. Malaika would like to be remembered as the girl who persevered and achieved her goals. Fun fact is that she loves cats and has one of her own. 

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