The HBCU tradition - a unique and rewarding educational experience
By Dr. George Acquaah
Congratulations, and welcome to Bowie State University, if you are a freshman. I, too, am new to Bowie, but not new to the Historically Black College or University (HBCU) system, having been affiliated with it for the past 17 years. Rest assured that you made the right choice in coming to Bowie State University, an HBCU! Continue to make right choices over the next several years to avail yourself of the opportunities here to acquire a well-rounded education.
Hodding Carter said, "There are only two things we can give our children - roots and wings." In higher education, the HBCUs are uniquely qualified to do just that - give you strong roots in the African American heritage within a culturally nurturing environment, and the wings of an eagle through rigorous academic training so that you can soar high above to make a difference in society.
I want to take a moment to introduce you to this rich tradition that you are about to experience. What does "HBCU" (or Bowie State University) mean to you? Just a "Black School?" To me, the HBCU tradition stands for:
- Determination and Perseverance: Yes, the HBCUs were formally established by legislature, but they were birthed out of adversity. It took the blood, sweat and tears of people who were denied, and yet were determined to persevere against all odds to achieve their goals, to crack the door open for African Americans to enter the arena of higher education.
- Courage and Vision: It took the courage of people who were willing to stand up for the rights of the down-trodden, to provide vision for others to dream to become all they can be.
- Excellence and Scholarship: African Americans looked around and realized that, with higher education, more opportunities were available for one to become excellent at doing things, and to pursue high scholarship in all endeavors.
- Service and Greatness: Education for service is good education. African Americans realized that higher education was a means by which one could more effectively serve others. As G.A. Keough said, "Greatness is not standing above our fellows and ordering them around; it is standing with them and helping them to be all they can be."
Here at Bowie State University, we are committed to helping you become all you can be. As you embark upon this glorious quest of higher education, you will face challenges, but determine to preserve to the end. Have a clear vision of where you want to be, four years from now, and the courage to go where others fear to tread. In all your endeavors, pursue excellence and high scholarship, for it is a waste of your time and life to even be satisfied with being good when you can be excellent. Finally, always remember, someone gave something so that you can experience the HBCU tradition. So, when you graduate, give back to society, and don't forget your alma mater, Bowie State University.
Have a great academic and social experience at Bowie State University. I look forward to continuing this conversation with you over the years. Until next time, this is Dr. G. wishing you happy days of learning.
The writer is Dean of the School of Arts & Sciences at Bowie State University