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Graduates of Historically Black Colleges and Universities Discuss the Impact of their Alma Maters

Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Week, Sept. 20-26, offers a moment for alumni to celebrate their time spent at their alma maters and the impact it made on their lives.

Kenneth Howard attended Hampton University where he studied Business Management. While at Hampton he was a walk-on football player who went on to receive a football scholarship, and was initiated into the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Incorporated. Both experiences enriched Kenneth’s experience at Hampton.

HBCU Facts

HBCUs are institutions of higher education in the U.S. founded prior to 1964 for African American students. The first HBCUs were founded in Pennsylvania and Ohio before the American Civil War to provide Black youth with basic education and training. Those youths were largely prevented from attending established colleges and universities because of racial discrimination.

Nationally, HBCU graduates include:

  • 50% of Black Business Executives
  • 80% of Black Federal Judges
  • 75% of Black Lawyers
  • 85% of Black Physicians
  • 75% of Black Americans with Ph.D. degrees
  • 45% of Black Members of Congress
  • 75% of Black Veterinarians
  • 50% of Black Elected Officials

State Farm currently has 1,067 employees that are HBCU graduates and just recently hosted two College Internship Events for HBCU students. It included a Q&A with HBCU alumni panel, overview of our employment process, video interview tips and preparing to apply.

“I think in various leadership roles that I’ve had in my fraternity, other organizations and even as a football player helped me develop leadership skills, relate to others and provided me the ability to garner that support of others to go toward a common goal,” said Howard, a Technology Director at State Farm®. “I definitely take what I learned outside of State Farm as a validation point that really speaks to my collaborative leadership style, leading strong teams and driving quality results.”

Donna Jones attended Howard University, where she studied Insurance. Howard was one of 112 schools that offered Insurance as a business major. She was an insurance scholar and an officer for the Asa T. Spalding Insurance Society. Donna is now a State Farm agent in Winston-Salem, N.C.

“I think the internship opportunities and my overall experiences at Howard provided me with 85 percent of the business knowledge I still use today. I gained a lot of practical knowledge that I don’t know how I would have learned otherwise,” she said.

Opportunities for Success

Jones applied to Howard University after reading an article about it in a Jet magazine. She is a first-generation college student and was enriched by the students around her.

“When you go to Howard, you’re one of the smartest from your high school. When you get there, you quickly discover everyone else is too,” she said.

Howard began his college career at the University of Cincinnati and transferred to a much smaller Hampton University after two years. He was able to truly bond with classmates and teachers in a class of 30 compared to 300.

“Whether they were legacy students or not, being around high caliber students helped me raise my game and helped me to compete in my peer group as far as my educational accomplishments,” he said.

Giving Back

“My experience at Hampton really showed me the value and importance of giving back,” Howard said.

He’s been involved as a Board member of Safe Kids of Georgia on behalf of State Farm and previously served on the Management Information Systems Advisory Board at the University of Georgia. He held several leadership positions with organizations outside of State Farm. He served as President of Commitment to Excellence, a nonprofit organization which provides funding for high school students who want to attend college and offers a mentoring program.

Jones plays an active role in her community. In addition, she provides internship opportunities in her agency.

“I’m excited to be in a position that I can give back and provide internships through my agency. I’m energized by my experience at Howard and hopefully can give that to somebody else,” she said.