For almost three decades, African American seniors from across the country have gathered during the summer at Colorado State University to research issues important to the African American community while enhancing their leadership, teamwork and communication skills.
“The purpose of the Black Issues Forum is to expose high school students of color to higher education and Colorado State University,” said Bobby Browning, forum director and senior assistant director of Admissions at CSU. “After spending a week living and conducting research on the CSU campus, this experience makes the pursuit of a college degree less daunting for the high school participants.”
Important issues affecting the African American community
Now in its 27th year at CSU, the Black Issues Forum brings together students from across the country to discuss and evaluate the important issues affecting the African American community at the local, state, national and global level.
This year, 63 students from 14 states came together from June 11-15 to participate in the program. They researched topics such as African Americans in higher education, black artists as well as African Americans in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, African Americans in social justice and civil rights and black history. On the last day of the forum, participants refined their public speaking skills by presenting their findings to the entire group.
“This experience is really helping me to form my identity as a black person,” said Seth Askins from South High School in Denver. “I’m figuring out that there are different ways I can represent myself as a black person. I’ve really enjoyed learning about black history, something I feel is really important and I haven’t been exposed to in high school. It’s also been really helpful getting to know CSU better and what majors I might be interested in as well as talking with current students about what it’s like to attend the university.”
Preparation for college life
Along with researching issues important to the African American community, participants had the opportunity to experience college life by touring CSU, living and dining in residence halls, learning about financial aid and college preparation as well as exploring Fort Collins. CSU faculty, staff and current students help facilitate the program. Students who participate in the Black Issues Forum earn one free CSU credit hour and may be eligible to receive the Partnership Award to attend CSU.
“From my experiences this week, I’ve developed a more familiar identity with myself and how CSU incorporates African American students on its campus,” said Faith Agboola, from Hopkins High School in Minnetonka, Minnesota. “When I return home, I’m definitely planning to tell younger high school students to take advantage of opportunities like the Black Issues Forum. This program is catered to you and your needs as a person and it’s been such an amazing experience for me.”