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Howard University student-athlete describes “perfect” culture at HBCU

Arianna Morgan has something to say about Howard University, one of the most well-known Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the country: “It’s perfect.” The 21-year-old soccer phenom transferred to Howard as a student-athlete, following her freshman year at a more traditional East Coast college, where she was one of few black women on campus.

Even her professors were White. Ms. Morgan noted that she only had one Black professor during her time at a traditional East Coast university. And that particular professor taught African-American literature. Her classes, particularly history, focused on White European culture, and her city was ranked one of the worst in the country for black women

All of this came as a surprise to Ms. Morgan, who noted that her first university did an excellent job marketing itself as a haven for all students. Yet black student-athletes didn’t feel welcome. And it wasn’t just Ms. Morgan. Of the 20 Black women who were on the school’s soccer team, eight transferred after their freshman year. 

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From a racist culture to an inclusive one

“The culture was one of white supremacy,” Ms. Morgan said in an interview with The Black Wall St Times. “The culture at the school did not support women of color.” 

Ms. Morgan’s mother was the one who suggested that she transfer to a school that was a better fit for a young Black student-athlete. Immediately, Howard was at the top of her list. 

“I had certain standards for my university after that first experience. I wanted a school that was at least 30 percent Black students, one that embraced Black culture,” said Ms. Morgan, who also researched how universities responded to the murder of George Floyd and other innocent Black men and women at the hands of police. 

Howard University is home

Now a pre-law student at Howard, “I love all of the little things at Howard,” she says. “Respect is automatically given; I don’t have to fight for it or demand it, and I don’t have to change any aspect of my personality; I can be myself at Howard.” 

Student-athletes are treated differently as well. “Howard encourages us to strive for greatness on and off the field,” she continued, noting that many of her soccer teammates recently took the MCAT for entrance into medical school, while Ms. Morgan is taking the LSAT this summer. 

She also spoke of the bond among her soccer teammates, noting that the women are accountable to each other for their commitment to soccer and school. “We have a shared lived experience,” she said, noting that nearly all of the women on the team were once the only Black female athlete on their soccer teams before college. 

Today, Ms. Morgan is considering where she will attend graduate school to obtain her JD and become a corporate attorney. Her experience at Howard, however, has set a very high standard for law school. “When people ask me about attending a HBCU, I ask them questions in return: ‘Who do you want to be as a student? What kind of experience do you want to have?’ I want people to be as proud about their undergrad experience as I am about my time at Howard.” 

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