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JSU students Sydney Nelson and Alexandria Williams have been selected by the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities as 2021 Scholars. The program recognizes 86 undergraduate, graduate and professional students for their academic accomplishments, leadership and civic engagement.

Nelson said, “Initially, both Alexandria and myself were sent an email informing us that we were not chosen. In that moment, I felt defeated but was encouraged that I submitted. A few days later, we both received another email explaining that we were initially selected as HBCU Scholars, and the original email was sent in error.”

Astounded and filled with joy, Nelson said, “As a transfer student, I am so grateful for this opportunity. Being a college student in a pandemic is not an easy task.”

Williams was equally enthralled.

“I’m overjoyed to be a 2021 HBCU Scholar, and I anticipate learning more about how government affects the minority community,” she said. “I know this program will assist me in becoming a better leader in my community and at JSU.”

Nelson and Williams are part of the eighth cohort and were chosen from a pool of more than 200 students. They all submitted completed applications that included a transcript, résumé, essay and letter of recommendation.

“Being selected from such a large pool of individuals is pretty awesome,” Nelson said. “Special thanks to TRIO for their amazing program and support.” TRIO combines federal outreach and student services to assist individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds.

“The HBCU Scholars all have demonstrated remarkable dedication to their learning and exemplify the talent that our nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities have nurtured for generations,” U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said. “Students who hold this honor are committed to creating a more just and equitable society through their civic engagement. They are leaders and change-makers in their communities.”

Over the course of an academic school year, Nelson and Williams will serve as ambassadors of the Initiative and JSU. The Initiative will provide scholars with information about the value of education as well as networking opportunities.