More than 70 Pine Bluff High School students visited the Historically Black College and Universities Fair at Little Rock and toured the Little Rock Nine exhibit at the Central High School National Historic Site Dec. 1.

HBCUs included Wiley College, Philander Smith College, Shorter College, Alabama A&M University, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and Dillard University.

“We were pleased to announce that several of our students have been accepted into a college/university and some even received academic scholarships on the spot during this event,” Dedric Jones, a PBHS career coach said in a news release.

According to the release, PBHS Principal Michael Nellums said students need the exposure and the opportunity to see colleges and universities outside of their region and what they have to offer.

“It’s a tremendous opportunity for our students to be a part of the entire process of recruitment and the opportunity to establish a future visitation to these schools,” Nellums said.

Brooklyn L. Tody, a senior at PBHS, wants to major in chemistry and plans to become a health care provider.

“The highlight of the HBCU trip was when I was able to apply to four different colleges — Philander Smith College, Mississippi Valley State University, Dillard University, and Alabama A&M State University — with my application fees waived,” Tody said.

“Later on that day, when I checked my Google Mail, I received a letter of acceptance from Philander Smith College. It felt gratifying to get accepted, because I will have the opportunity to show off my maximum potential in excelling in academics and leadership in a college that I want to attend,” she said.

Evan Buckner, a PBHS senior, plans to major in plant sciences with a focus in plant pathology.

“This HBCU field trip held recently was truly an amazing and wonderful experience,” Buckner said. “One of my favorite parts of the day was being able to meet with so many amazing colleges (many of which are land grants which offer scholarships to students who plan to major in a plant sciences or agriculture related area) all in one area.”

“Usually, I would have never gotten the chance to go and visit a school as far away as Alabama A&M or Itta Bena, Mississippi. Being able to go to the college fair gave me this chance to meet with these schools and receive a full ride on the spot,” Buckner said.

Elfreda Boyd, a PBHS counselor, said she enjoys taking students to college fairs.

“They engaged well with the different college recruiters and seemed excited about the first-hand information they receive about each college,” Boyd said. “Also tour students were very interested and impressed about visiting the statues of the Little Rock Nine. They took pictures and shared their thoughts about the struggles those students faced then and compared it to what they face now. Overall, it was a great opportunity for our students.”

Michelle Heard, a PBHS career coach, said these experiences are good examples of the career coach motto: “Together we can do more.” The future is bright for the students, she said.

Jones also commented.

“It was a joy from the time we took off on the bus and began to discuss the experience of what happened during the era of the Little Rock Nine, to actually posturing students with statues of those whose shoulders they stand on,” Jones said. “Seeing students engage with so many recruiters across the country, asking the most intelligent questions, makes me proud to serve. I yet believe the best is yet to come for our scholars. Partnering with our counseling team to make this effort come to past was stellar.”