This Black History Month, City Colleges of Chicago faculty and staff are sharing their HBCU success stories and explaining how their time at a HBCU impacts their work today. 

Read more from Sydney Adams, Media Specialist at Malcolm X College, below.

In high school, the list of colleges I wanted to attend versus the list of colleges my mom wanted me to attend looked a little different. She wanted me to consider Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia, but Hampton—or any Historically Black College or University (HBCU)—wasn’t on my radar. Then, during spring break of my junior and senior years of high school, I attended HBCU college tours. I started learning more about them and applied to Hampton at my mom’s request. I got in and enrolled, and I’m so glad I did. I now have lifelong friends, beautiful memories, and clarity about who I am and my career.

The summer before my freshman year at Hampton, I attended “pre-college.” During pre-college, I took a few courses and met other freshmen. It set the stage for my four years at Hampton, which can only be described as one of the best experiences of my life. I was initiated in Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and learned to live by Hampton University’s motto of “The Standard of Excellence.” It set an expectation of excellence in everything I do. It taught me that excellence is not perfection, to not be afraid of failure, to take risks, and to do my best to reach to my full potential.

I was also a student worker in the Media Productions department. My boss preached “trust but verify.” That phrase heavily influences my work at City Colleges as a media specialist at Malcolm X College. I may think everything is good to go with the media we set up for an event, but I always verify to ensure the work is done properly.

HBCUs are so important because they are inclusive institutions and communities that celebrate cultural experiences and expressions for all. As an HBCU graduate, I’m excited that City Colleges partners with HBCUs. It’s a win-win for everyone involved. It gives our students more options when they’re choosing a transfer school, and it provides HBCUs with strong students who can and will succeed.

For all CCC students considering transferring to an HBCU, I’d say it can be one of the best experiences of your life, but don’t forget to manage your time wisely and always remember the goal: graduate.