Dillard rising senior Toiya Smith ‘21 selected as 2020 HBCU Competitiveness Scholar

Toiya Smith '21

Urban Studies and Public Policy major Toiya Smith '21. Photo: Sabree Hill.

For Immediate Release
June 25, 2020

NEW ORLEANSDillard University student Toiya Smith ‘21 was selected as one of the 2020 HBCU Competitiveness scholars on Thursday, June 18, 2020. The HBCU Competitiveness Scholars program is the highest form of student recognition from the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. “Scholars are chosen based on their academic achievements, campus and civic involvement and entrepreneurial ethos or "go-getter" spirits,” the release from the United States Department of Education stated. It also shared that students are selected from undergraduate, graduate, professional schools and nominated and endorsed by their institution president, which itself is a prestigious acknowledgment.

"This honor is less about recognition and more about the potential to advocate and collaborate with the 43 other scholars,” Smith shared in a statement. “With the litany of injustices that plague our society on the forefront of our minds and hearts, I'm hopeful that we can use this platform to enact change in a way we may not have been able to do before."

The Initiative remains committed to extending their platform to provide meaningful experiences for HBCU students. Both the Initiative and the U.S. Department of Education fully support this 2020 recognition of competitiveness scholars and believe it to be a critical effort to better support and motivate HBCU students during the pandemic.

“These scholars are already extraordinary,” said Elyse Jones, Scholar Program Coordinator. “With the drastic changes that have been made to their learning environments, they still manage to distinguish themselves in their leadership and service, continue to foster their student voices, and furthermore embody what it means to have a ‘competitiveness spirit.’ Their ability to stay so diligent in their studies and invested in their personal growth during a time of uncertainty speaks volumes to the character of these students.”

Selected students will serve for one academic school year representing the 2020-2021 cohort of Competitiveness Scholars. During this unique academic school year, the Initiative will work closely with our federal and non-federal partners to develop a robust calendar of virtual events for our scholars that will explore, exchange ideas and share best practices around leadership, professional development, career pathways, government resources and much more.

Dillard University alum Karmel Reeves ’18 was also selected as a 2020 HBCU Competitiveness scholar for her work at Grambling State University. She serves as Grambling's Title III Program Coordinator and is enrolled in the institution’s Master of Public Administration program.

For more information on the 2020 HBCU Competitiveness program, please visit its website, here.

Dillard University, located in New Orleans at 2601 Gentilly Blvd., is a private four-year liberal arts historically black institution with a history dating back to 1869. For more information, please visit www.dillard.edu. Also, follow us on Twitter, Facebook @DU1869 and Instagram: Dillard

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