Creating Fellowships—and Advancing Careers—for HBCU Grads at Columbia
In 2017, the Columbia University School of Professional Studies launched the HBCU Fellowship Program, which prepares talented, high-performing grads from HBCU schools (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) to lead and innovate through engagement, mentorship, and career development. Fellows receive a full scholarship to one of the School’s master’s degree programs, as well as on-campus housing, mentoring, career counseling, and a stipend. The program, unique to the Ivy League, is celebrating five years of growth and impact.
In May 2022, the program graduated its ninety-ninth fellow. Students have the opportunity to connect with internship opportunities while studying at Columbia, and some have secured full-time opportunities at top New York City businesses and organizations such as Goldman Sachs, the NBA, and Walt Disney Studios. Other graduates have gone on to medical school, pursued doctorates, or won prestigious awards such as the Schwarzman Scholarship in Beijing.
“We have ambitious plans to prepare even more HBCU graduates to lead, innovate, and drive community impact across industries,” said Dean Troy J. Eggers, dean of the School of Professional Studies. “We will continue to welcome bold new ideas and innovations, and invite new partners to join us in the effort.”
Senior Associate Dean of Student Affairs Zelon Crawford has led the program since joining SPS in 2020. “We are proud beyond measure of what our HBCU fellows have accomplished, and gratified to know the impact this program has had on so many lives. We are excited to celebrate our students and mark this important milestone: five years of the Columbia HBCU Fellowship Program, which provides full-tuition fellowships to outstanding HBCU graduates to pursue a master’s program at SPS.”
One student, Shaddae Findley, graduated in 2018 from Prairie View A&M University and in 2020 from Columbia’s Enterprise Risk Management program. Findley interned at the ALS Group while she was a fellow, before accepting a full-time analyst position at Goldman Sachs. “Risk is an inevitable phenomenon, and if I am able to learn the tools and develop the skills to mitigate it, I know I will be an asset to any organization,” she said.
Javonty Hunter, who graduated from Winston-Salem State University, interned with the New York Yankees while pursuing his M.S. in Sports Management. “I understood that being surrounded by league offices such as the MLB and NBA would provide an experience and opportunity that you simply could not get at other institutions,” said Hunter.
Since launch, the program has welcomed students from twenty-eight participating HBCUs, including: Delaware State University; Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University; Hampton University; Howard University; Morehouse College; Spelman College; Tuskegee University; the University of the District of Columbia; and Xavier University of Louisiana. Eligible students can apply to one of fifteen master’s degree programs: Actuarial Science, Applied Analytics, Bioethics, Construction Administration, Enterprise Risk Management, Human Capital Management, Information and Knowledge Strategy, Narrative Medicine, Negotiation and Conflict Resolution, Nonprofit Management, Sports Management, Strategic Communication, Sustainability Management, Sustainability Science, and Technology Management.
The program also challenges students to give back to their communities on campus and off. Hezekiah Williams graduated from Jackson State University with a bachelor of science in Biomedical Engineering and earned his M.S. in Sustainability Management in 2022 as a Columbia HBCU Fellow. He served on the SPS Student Government as well as the SPS DEIA Committee. “Columbia is an incredibly progressive school, but additional progress can be made. I wanted to ensure that progress was going to truly, positively affect the student body,” said Williams.