Four Benedict College Students Named 2020 HBCU Competitiveness Scholars by White House Initiative on HBCUs

The White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (Initiative) recently announced the names of 44 students from 33 historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) selected as 2020 HBCU Competitiveness Scholars – the Initiative’s highest student recognition.

This year, [UNCF-member institution] Benedict College has a record number of students recognized as HBCU Competitiveness Scholars. The four students selected are Ashanique Moore, a sophomore, majoring in computer science from Orange Park, Florida; Malaysia Davis, a sophomore, majoring in Criminal Justice from Durham, North Carolina; Henry Peterson, a junior, majoring in Business Administration from Wagener, South Carolina; and Maya Schofield, a sophomore, majoring in Business Administration and minoring in Mass Communication from Fairburn, Georgia.

“I am extremely proud of Ashanique, Malaysia, Maya, and Henry who are all highly motivated academic and civic leaders on Benedict’s campus. I applaud our 2020 HBCU Competitiveness Scholars for their leadership, professionalism, and determination to achieve despite the interruption of the pandemic,” said Dr. Roslyn Artis Clark, President and CEO of Benedict College.” I know each one of them will excel in the year-long program while representing the BEST of BC!”

“It is my privilege to congratulate the HBCU Competitiveness Scholars Class of 2020 on their outstanding academic achievement, community leadership, and entrepreneurial spirit,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. “These exemplary students have excelled inside the classroom and out and have successfully met the unprecedented challenges to learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. Their determination, resilience and commitment to excellence will serve them well as they continue their academic careers and prepare for future continued success.”

“I am simply thrilled to recognize the 2020 HBCU Competitiveness Scholars,” said Johnathan Holifield, Executive Director of the Initiative. “These students are fine examples of the talent and boundless vitality found at America’s HBCUs. This recognition heightens expectations for scholars to continue making meaningful contributions to our nation. I am confident they will deliver.”

Scholars are chosen based on their academic achievements, campus and civic involvement and entrepreneurial ethos or “go-getter” spirits. Comprised of undergraduate, graduate, professional students, and international students from various academic backgrounds, the 2020 scholars were selected from among several highly distinguished HBCU students. In addition, each recognized scholar was nominated and endorsed by their institution president, which itself is a prestigious acknowledgement.

The Initiative remains committed to extending their platform to provide meaningful experiences for HBCU students. Both the Initiative and the U.S. Department of Education fully support this 2020 recognition of competitiveness scholars and believe it to be a critical effort to better support and motivate HBCU students during the pandemic.

“These scholars are already extraordinary,” said Elyse Jones, Scholar Program Coordinator. “With the drastic changes that have been made to their learning environments, they still manage to distinguished themselves in their leadership and service, continue to foster their student voices, and furthermore embody what it means to have a ‘competitiveness spirit.’ Their ability to stay so diligent in their studies and invested in their personal growth during a time of uncertainty speaks volumes to the character of these students.”

Selected students will serve for one academic school year representing the 2020-2021 cohort of Competitiveness Scholars. During this unique academic school year, the Initiative will work closely with federal and non-federal partners to develop a robust calendar of virtual events for the scholars that will explore, exchange ideas and share best practices around leadership, professional development, career pathways, government resources and much more.

Competitiveness Scholars typically assemble during the Annual National HBCU Week Conference. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, scholars will not be able to convene in Washington, D.C. for the National Recognition Program in the Fall. Instead, plans are underway for an online recognition and virtual campaign to ensure the scholars receive their acknowledgement during 2020 Virtual HBCU Week Conference. During this virtual event, they will participate in workshops designed to strengthen their leadership and will be encouraged to seek out ongoing personal and professional development in the areas of innovation and entrepreneurship.