First Annual HBCU College Fair held at YMCA

Western North Carolina hosted the First Annual Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCU) College Fair in Hickory on Saturday, March 5, 2016. The event was sponsored by the YMCA of Catawba Valley Black Achievers Program (BAP), the Delta Nu Chapter, Epsilon Upsilon Chapter and Gamma Beta Beta Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., and the Department of Leadership Studies at North Carolina A&T State University.   Ms. Thelma Harold, Member Services Coordinator/Teen Program Director at the Hickory Foundation YMCA, along with Dr. Forrest Toms, a Professor at NC A&T State University in the Department of Leadership Studies and BAP Advisory Board member collaborated to bring this HBCU College Fair to Hickory.

“Ms. Harold’s sheer energy and passion for working with children and youth was instrumental in making this event a success. Her ability to rally the Board of Directors, YMCA staff, and community, fueled the desire to implement programs of this magnitude”, said Dr. Toms

“We are excited! My students from the Leadership Studies program worked with Ms. Harold to design, coordinate and implement a successful and significant program to students and parents in the western region of NC.  “They did a phenomenal a job!  The product quality is unreal and everybody here today has mentioned that to me,” stated Dr. Forrest Toms.  This event welcomed over 100 middle and high school students and their parents, from 8 counties, allowing them to speak with admissions counselors from each of the HBCUs represented.


The following colleges and universities helped to kick-off this inaugural HBCU College Fair: Elizabeth State University, Fayetteville State University, Johnson C. Smith University, Livingstone College, North Carolina Central University, North Carolina A & T State University, and St. Augustine’s University. The admissions counselors answered questions and provided potential students with information surrounding their institutions academic degree programs, campus life, housing, and financial aid. The HBCU College Fair began with a short program introducing the institutions, YMCA key stakeholders, and community organizations/partners that assisted in hosting this event.

One of the highlights of the event was the awarding of a college scholarship. Ms. Janaisha Rhinehardt accepted a $10,000 scholarship from the Director of Admissions, Mr. James Burrell, Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina; a major statement of success for the event. Ms. Harold and Dr. Toms noted that Johnson C. Smith and Mr. Burrell “set the bar high” for future events.  Plans for next year’s event will include workshops regarding financial, test-taking skills and other topic areas for parents and students.

For additional information regarding the Black Achievers Program contact Thelma Harold at 828.324.2858 or [email protected].

Photos Attached: (L to R) Richard Hooker, Thelma Harold, Andre Richardson, Gisele Abron, Dr. Forrest Toms, Ronald Wilkinson, Artina Dawkins, Lt. Colonel Williams




The YMCA of Catawba Valley was established in 1969 to strengthen our community through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.  The Y engages over 21,000 men, women and children each year – regardless of age, income or background – to nurture the potential of children and teens, improve the community’s health and well-being and to provide opportunities to give back and support neighbors. The Y has the long-standing relationships and physical presence not just to promise, but to deliver, lasting personal and social change. The Y mission is to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind, and body for all.



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