UCSD Celebrates Black History Month at Scholarship Brunch

UCSD held its annual Black History Month Scholarship Brunch this past Saturday, during which Chancellor Pradeep Khosla revealed a new scholarship initiative for African-American students. The brunch took place in the Price Center West Ballroom and featured humanitarian, producer and actor Danny Glover as the keynote speaker.

Before Glover took the podium, Chancellor Pradeep Khosla announced a new $30 million scholarship plan called the Black Academic Excellence Initiative, which will help expand the existing Black Alumni Scholarship Fund. The initiative aims to increase the number of black students at UCSD by lowering the apprehension they might have about the cost of tuition.

“One of the main components of this is the expansion of scholarships for African-American students,” Khosla said. “We want to ensure that African-American Students can pursue a UCSD education free of financial worries.”

Following Khosla’s announcement, Glover, who starred in movies such as Lethal Weapon and Angels in the Outfield, delivered the keynote speech on sites of African-American memory, which corresponds with this year’s Black History Month theme “Hallowed Grounds: Sites of African-American Memory.” One of the sites that Glover discussed was Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church, recalling the church’s historic significance to the civil rights movement.

“Standing just near feet away from the Alabama state capitol, where entrenched opposition to desegregation was fortified, Dexter Avenue Baptist Church was steadfast in its righteous indignation in the literal face of injustice,” Glover said. “As Martin Luther King, Jr. and a host of other activists planned the Montgomery bus boycott in the church’s basement, they initiated a movement that brought unprecedented social and political change to the United States.”

During the brunch, Assistant Vice Chancellor of Admissions and Enrollment Services Mae Brown received an award for her 42 years of service at UCSD. Brown began working at the university as a senior clerk typist, after which she became the Director of Undergraduate Admissions in 1995 and transitioned to her current position in 2004.

Brown told the UCSD Guardian that her office is dedicated to increasing the yield of African-American students, but they still have a lot of work to do.

“We continue to work to increase diversity of all people and all groups,” Brown said. “We continue to work hard with African-Americans because although we might drive to admit them, they tend not to take our offer.”

Brown added that her office is actively seeks to increase diversity at UCSD through a number of different strategies.

“We have an active recruitment strategy for all students of diverse populations and especially African-Americans,” Brown said. “We work with high schools, community colleges and community organizations, and conduct campus tours so that students have the opportunity to visit the campus.”

Two UCSD students, Thurgood Marshall College juniors Danielle Davis and Nielah McKee, were also recognized for their academic achievements and the Black History Month Scholarships they received.

Davis told the Guardian that her DOC 3 professor nominated her for the award based on a project that she worked on for the class. She added that the scholarship will ease the burden of tuition.

“It was definitely an honor to get the award and be celebrated and recognized,” Davis said. “And the money is really helpful — I’m really grateful for it.”

After the brunch came to a close, UCSD students were invited to the Cross-Cultural Center for a smaller-scale discussion with Glover.