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HBCU alumni give back to help schools more forward

HBCUs across the country and in North Carolina are seeing declining enrollment, which is decreasing tuition dollars that are flowing into the schools.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Thousands of students attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities, or HBCUs, are at risk of losing out on a college education.

HBCUs across the country and in North Carolina are seeing declining enrollment, which is decreasing tuition dollars that are flowing into the schools.

At Saint Augustine’s University in Raleigh, the school lost $3 million since last fall.

To offset that loss, university leaders are hoping to encourage more alumni to donate.

Cindy Brooks-Parks graduated from Shaw in 1998 with a bachelor’s degree in public affairs. She’s been giving back to her alma mater ever since became president of Shaw University’s Durham Alumni Association 16 years ago.
Brooks-Parks choked back tears as she described how much the school means to her.

“I love Shaw. It’s right up there in the top three – first God, my (family), and a Shaw Bear,” she said, referring to the school’s mascot.

Brooks-Parks, who works as an assistant to the City of Durham’s chief information officer, said she there’s nothing she wouldn’t do to help her alma mater.

“You have people that are die hard like me, and some of the ones at Shaw University, [who] give our last," she said.

Some HBCUs may be seeing their last days as financial issues take a toll.

Saint Augustine’s University leaders planned to furlough faculty and staff during spring break in March in order to save money, but they decided against the measure .

Like many HBCUs, Saint Augustine’s depends on alumni donations to keep its doors open due to the shortage of public funds.

“We always say that it doesn’t matter how much you give as long as you give,” said Brooks-Parks.

That’s why she, and other Shaw University alumni, are trying to encourage more alumni donation through the construction of a granite wall, called the “Wall of Shaw.”

Based on how much they donate, alumni would have their names permanently engraved into the wall -- all in an effort to bring more stability to the school’s bank account, as well as those of its current and future students.

George Sinkler, 24, is a junior at Shaw University majoring in criminal justice and plans on reaching back to the school that has given so much to him.

“You shouldn't forget who helped you along the way,” said Sinkler. “Being a Shaw Bear means everything to me. It’s who I am.”

Brooks-Parks echoes the same sentiment and hopes to continue helping others make the same discovery.

Shaw University’s Durham Alumni Association has started several other campaigns to encourage donations, but Brooks-Parks still doesn’t think they’re getting enough to properly support the school and its students.

“Every day, I’m afraid that one year we won't be coming because there's no school, there's no homecoming, there's no Shaw University," she said.




Nickelle Smith, Reporter

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