be_ixf;ym_202404 d_23; ct_50 YES! I want to make a difference TODAY!

HBCU alum shares why she serves with City Year

Maybe you’ve heard of Howard University, Spellman College, Tennessee State or Morehouse? You’ve definitely heard of some of their most famous graduates: Martin Luther King, Jr., Spike Lee, Toni Morrison, Kamala Harris, and yes, even Oprah.

What is an HBCU?

Historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) are institutions of higher education that primarily serve Black American and other African diasporic populations. Most were formed during the Reconstruction era—a period in history that immediately followed the U.S. Civil War—as most colleges and universities at that time barred Black students from admission.

Today, there are more than 100 HBCUs that continue to provide a one-of-a-kind cultural experience alongside rigorous academic and professional training to thousands of students across the country.

City Year’s HBCU alums are serving as student success coaches

If you speak with an HBCU alum about their experience, you’ll quickly learn that service to the community is one of the hallmarks of HBCU campus culture. So, it’s no surprise that many HBCU graduates apply to serve with City Year after they graduate with their college degrees. This year alone, 49 HBCUs are represented amongst the currently serving corps who graduated from nearly half of Historically Black Colleges and Universities nationwide!

Animation graphic of AmeriCorps Member Z'Mia Price

In a series of interviews, we talked with currently serving AmeriCorps members who are HBCU graduates about how their education at historically Black institutions have informed their decision to serve with City Year.

Here’s the first conversation, featuring Z’Mia Price, a Dillard University graduate who recently served with City Year Denver:

Tell us about yourself!

My name is Z’Mia Price. I’m a New Orleans native, currently serving with City Year Denver. I had the honor to graduate from the luxurious Dillard University, located in the heart of New Orleans in May 2023. During my time at Dillard, I majored in public health with a concentration in health system management.

How did your HBCU prepare you for service?

My experience taught me resilience, responsibility and how to respect all communities, and the diverse perspectives that come along with that. These are lessons that I can carry with me through my City Year experience and beyond.

red jacket

Read more about what to expect when you become a City Year AmeriCorps member. 

What should HBCU students and alums know about City Year?

It’s important to know that City Year focuses on diversity, belonging, inclusion, and equity throughout your year of service. It also gives you insight into the systemic inequities in our country’s education system. It helps you better understand how you can be an advocate for students—or help them advocate for themselves.

Why do you think more HBCU alums should serve with City Year?

I believe HBCU alums should serve with City Year because it allows you to connect with students who have experienced similar obstacles while growing up, and it gives us a chance to help create the supportive learning environments that all students deserve.

City Year AmeriCorps members are student success coaches.

What did your students know about HBCU’s before they met you?

Unfortunately, my students didn’t know much about HBCU’S before they met me, but I am able to give them a little more insight. I also always share my experience joining Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., one of the nine historically Black fraternities and sororities known as The Divine Nine.

What advice would you give for an HBCU student or alum considering City Year?

I would say use that pride and passion that we have for our schools to help support students and their communities! Always remember that we were blessed with an education so that we can pay it forward!

Learn more

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