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Small and Mighty: Columbia HBCU Fellows Excel in a Range of Careers

The M.S. in Strategic Communication program has proudly participated in the innovative Columbia HBCU Fellowship Program since its inception in 2017, and we are excited to celebrate the program’s five-year anniversary.

The program awards high-performing HBCU graduates with fellowships to earn an SPS master's degree, on-campus housing, networking forums, and community service initiatives. As of December, sixteen of the program’s 108 fellows will have earned degrees in Strategic Communication, coming from nine HBCUs, including: Hampton University; Morehouse College; North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University; and Prairie View A&M University, among others. Our alumni have gone on to land roles at organizations including the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE), the Walt Disney Studios, HBO Max, and Simon & Schuster.

We recently caught up with 2020 Columbia HBCU Fellow Kenya Cummins (21SPS, Strategic Communication), who is currently a screenwriting MFA candidate at the American Film Institute Conservatory. A graduate of Hampton University, Cummins has previously held scripted development internships at Franklin Entertainment and Lifetime Network hosted by the Television Academy Foundation. 

What are your current professional goals?

I will establish a production company and studio to work as a showrunner, writer, and director for television shows and films that champion stories at the intersection of race, class, and faith, while also using storytelling as a means to activate and serve diverse youth.

Tell us about your career journey. How has your professional path been influenced by your experience in the Columbia HBCU Fellowship Program?

The Columbia HBCU Fellowship Program was a transformative chapter in my career development. The Strategic Communication program afforded me new skills and positioned me for success as a compelling storyteller, which lends itself to my current career in entertainment.  The Career Design Lab’s support and resources helped me prepare for job hunting. Most importantly, I was also able to form meaningful relationships with professors and staff and to form lasting friendships with my cohort and alumni. 

How has the value of service that is taught in the program impacted your desire to give back in your professional life?

My time at Columbia University as an HBCU Fellow reminded me of the importance of reinvesting the knowledge and skills I have learned there in my community. 

What was the most important thing you learned at Columbia?

I learned about the importance of adaptability, time management, and how to navigate observing and maintaining authenticity, morality, and ethical decision-making in professional environments. 

Applications are open for the next cohort of Columbia HBCU Fellows. Learn more at sps.columbia.edu/hbcu.