BLACKSBURG, Va. – Students accepted into the Black College Institute program at Virginia Tech are getting their chance to explore what the university has to offer.
Throughout the week, high school students from across the nation are walking around campus to talk with different departments about the opportunities they’ll have when attending Virginia Tech.
The Black College Institute is an academic summer enrichment program for more than 100 students, designed to ensure that underrepresented and/or first-generation prospective students are aware of higher education opportunities at the university.
Assistant Provost for Diversity and Inclusion, Crasha Townsend, believes the program can not only bring a more diverse population but one that excels in school as well.
“We hope to have this program be a way to introduce more diversity to our campus. We have intentionally sought out those high-achieving students to be here,” Townsend said.
She also said it gives students an opportunity to interact with kids that may have had similar but also different experiences.
“With the diversity of ideas comes forth the brilliance that we see at Virginia Tech. And so, I think it’s important to be able to have that experience for the students for them to interact and engage with people from across the world,” Townsend said.
The Black College Institute was started back in 2017. The year prior, Virginia Tech had a Black student population of 3.8%. This made it hard for students — like Angel Bynum-Hardy — to find where they could fit in.
“For a second, I didn’t think it was meant for me. Because I didn’t necessarily find my community. I didn’t know how to find my community,” Bynum-Hardy said.
Now five years later, the university expects to have a 9% Black student population and Bynum-Hardy says it will only continue to go up.
“Diversity exists at Virginia Tech. There is a huge community, and it continues to grow every single year,” Bynum Hardy said.
It will increase will students like Aiden Collins joining the Black College Institute after being the only Black student in his high school. He says it was hard fitting in but he’s glad he’s found a place to thrive.
“Mainly I can’t talk like myself. I have to act differently to be morally accepted,” Collins said. “This experience has just been amazing, and it really just shows the school prioritizes getting African Americans and the Black Community.”
Through the Black College Institute experience, Collins has Virginia Tech at the top of his list of schools to attend.