NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Research shows young men of color are underrepresented at colleges across the country, but a group is trying to change that.
Jusanie Henry is enthusiastic when it comes to the college admission process.
“I’m actually really optimistic,” he said.
The Eagle Academy at Newark senior plans on applying to 15 colleges but is still full of questions, which is why he enjoyed every minute of the Eagle Academy Foundation’s college fair.
“It is a way to network, as we like to call it, and branch out to different colleges,” Henry said.
On Friday, 2,300 students poured into the gymnasium at Queens College. Maurice Minott, another Eagle Academy at Newark senior, was among them.
“The possibilities are endless in college and I would love to experience that,” he said.
Each student got the opportunity to meet with representatives from 100 colleges and universities from around the country, a chance not many thought they would get.
“Not all students know about colleges that are around and all the opportunities for them to grow and succeed,” said Hannah Ameen, a freshman admissions counselor at Dominican College.
“There is a college for every student, which I believe in. You just have to find the right one. That’s why these are important,” said Nikai Santiago, a senior at Eagle Academy in Harlem.
While college fairs happen often, this one was different. It was open only to black male students.
Over the years, the graduation rate for black men has improved, but recent numbers show only 35% complete four years of school.
“Young men of color is the demographic that is least represented on college campuses across this nation,” said David Banks, Eagle Academy Foundation president and CEO.
Banks says the fair is the only one of its kind in the nation. It represents hope and opportunity for the young men.
“College opens up a lot of other possibilities for their lives, and for far too many young men of color, in particular, that has not been a real possibility for them,” he said.
This college fair and their perseverance is now equating to a whole lot of possibilities.