Initiated in 2017, this innovative program awards high-performing HBCU graduates with fellowships to earn an SPS master's degree, on-campus housing, networking forums, and community service initiatives. HBCUs are federally-designated Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The program’s 99 alumni have come from twenty-eight HBCUs, such as Alabama State University, Hampton University, and Norfolk State University.
We spoke with 2022 Columbia HBCU Fellow and Norfolk State University alumnus ml4809 [[at]] columbia [[dot]] edu (McKinley Lowery III) (’22SPS, Human Capital Management) about his experience to date.
Tell us about your professional aspirations.
I expect to complete the HCM program in August 2023. I recently completed a client relationship management internship at Moncler, and have just begun interning with another high-end luxury brand. My long-term and ultimate career aspiration is to establish my own international real estate agency and luxury fashion brand.
How has your professional path been influenced by your experience in the Columbia HBCU Fellowship program?
Throughout my career journey, it has been important for me to obtain internships in every industry that was of interest to me. These internships were with major companies in real estate, finance, and luxury fashion. My professional path has been influenced by my experience in the Columbia HBCU Fellowship through education and the potential for lifelong relationships. The HCM program is preparing me with the foundational knowledge to be a leader in the next generation of the workforce. It is also creating lasting relationships with faculty and students from a variety of backgrounds and unique experiences.
How has the value of service that is taught in the Columbia HBCU Fellowship Program impacted your desire to give back in your professional life?
The value of service taught in the program has greatly impacted my desire to give back in my professional life. I want to encourage, inspire, and equip others with the professional development resources and opportunities that I have been fortunate enough to learn about through my professional journey. Along with that, when I found my own company I plan to lead one of the best organizations to work for.
What was the most important thing you have learned at Columbia so far?
One of the most important things I've learned at Columbia is the impact of diversity in both personal and professional experiences. Not being afraid to share with the world the fullness of who you are and your contributions is so important. Transitioning from Norfolk State University to Columbia University has given me exposure to unique opportunities, different perspectives, and a broader community. Diversity of personal and professional experiences across campus is immense, and I love having the opportunity to create connections within this space.