City Colleges of Chicago Black History Month

For City Colleges of Chicago students looking to earn their bachelor’s degrees, transferring to a Historically Black College/University (HBCU) may prove to be a great fit. Members of the City Colleges community who are HBCU graduates describe a similar sense of community, values, and support in both schools.

This Black History Month, City Colleges of Chicago faculty and staff shared their experiences attending HBCUs and explained how their college experience influences their work at City Colleges and their lives. Their stories provide a first-hand look into the rich history of HBCUs across the country, including Morehouse College, our newest HBCU transfer partner.

Associate Professor of Music and Humanities and Chair of the Humanities Department at Olive-Harvey Cornelius Johnson is a Morehouse College alumnus. His time at Morehouse led to lifelong friendships and taught him to practice excellence. It influences his work at City Colleges heavily.

“I try to be excellent in what I’m doing and, in my instruction,” Professor Johnson says. “I encourage my students to strive for their highest level.”

Kiera Bowens, Director of Special Projects for the Office of Student Experience, attended the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB). Her HBCU experience provided her with values that are foundational to who she is as a person, like how to be resourceful and to strive for perfection. It also gave her the confidence to go after every opportunity she’s interested in. The family feel at UAPB resonated with her most, and Kiera says she feels that community at City Colleges as well.

“I was happy to find that sense of community again at City Colleges, and I try to develop those strong relationships in my work here,” Kiera said. “My advice to any student considering transferring to an HBCU is that City Colleges is a great pipeline to an HBCU. You’ll find many of the same values and support in both schools.”

Dean of Malcolm X College’s West Side Learning Center (WSLC) Barbara Meschino’s lessons from her time at Clark Atlanta University taught her how to think outside the box. That thinking led to an innovative solution to share WSLC’s offerings and resources during the pandemic.

“The biggest takeaway is the motto I learned at Clark Atlanta, which is “find a way or make one,” Dean Meschino said. “…bringing people into the building for class wasn’t possible. I created WSLC Community Day. We set up tables outside and shared our resources with the Austin community.”

Director of Enrollment Management at Olive-Harvey College Kisalan Glover’s experiences with his fraternity, basketball team, and instructors at Kentucky State University molded him into the person he is today.

“It makes me slow down, listen, and show empathy to others,” he said. “I now have an opportunity to share resources and change the trajectory of students’ lives like my coaches, advisors, mentors, and peers at Kentucky State did for me.”

For Manager of Instructional Design Ayana Haaruun, her time at Howard University changed the entire way she learned. Her experience continues to shape how she thinks about online classes and learning for City Colleges students. It’s her job to deliver engaging online course content for students so they can graduate and get to work. She understands the correlation between interesting courses and success.

“I was so captivated by the energy and all these interesting Black people from all over the world who were very cool and very interested in education,” she said. “My first semester at Howard was the first time in my life that I got straight As. I was so engaged in what I was learning.”

By sharing their experiences, our HBCU alumni hope to show students the benefits of attending HBCUs. Students interested in learning more about City Colleges HBCU transfer partnerships can visit or visit the Transfer Center at your college.