LIMA — All it took was one trip south to convince Calia Moseley that a historically Black college or university, or HBCU for short, was for her.
“I was destined to go to Ohio State for a long time. That was where my family wanted me to go, and that’s where I was going to go — up until about May 2019,” the Lima Senior graduate said. “And what really made me change my mind was the trip that we took with Londell Smith. It was just being around people that genuinely care about you and genuinely want to see you succeed.”
She took a trip in 2019 to Alabama A&M, Clark Atlanta, Morehouse and Spellman with the Smith Jones Family Foundation, led by Smith. She instantly saw the advantage of going to a school that predated the civil rights movement and made her feel as a young Black student like she was at home. Now she’s preparing for her sophomore year at Tennessee State University, studying business at the HBCU with the hopes of running her own business in the Lima area someday.
“The world is changing a lot,” Moseley said. “I feel like it’s becoming more accepting. I didn’t realize it until actually going and being on a campus: I’m thinking it’s going to be all Black people. Then when I get there, I see Chinese people, white people, a different variety of people. This is what I want to be around, people that don’t see by color, they see by experience.”
The Smith Jones Family Foundation skipped its annual educational field trip last year due to COVID-19. Viral concerns limited this year’s trip, which will be a one-day visit to Columbus on Aug. 28. For $100, students receive roundtrip transportation, a private reception and college and career fair with HBCU schools, lunch and “swag bags.”
A highlight of this year’s visit is the HBCU Classic for Columbus, a football game between Kentucky State and Central State at Ohio Stadium with seats right behind the team benches at the Horseshoe. There will also be a battle of the bands there to give students a taste of the HBCU experience. Students age 16 or older must be accompanied by an adult and can register online at j.mp/3zZiAxt or call Smith at 419-236-8947. Partial scholarships are available, but Smith said it’s important for students to have “skin in the game.”
“They can discuss the admissions process, all the different programs and majors, activities, opportunities, scholarships and financial aid,” Smith said.
Going on Lima Educational Field Trip in 2019 as one of the 47 students helped convince Je’Niya Allen that she wanted to attend an HBCU. Her sister already attended Clark Atlanta, and she decided to attend Alabama State, where the Lima Senior graduate plans to study psychology with the goal of opening a psychology clinic to help Black men deal with mental health issues.
She said she’s looking forward to attending a predominantly Black school to “focus more on my inner self and where I came from.” She’s also eager to learn a more complete version of the country’s civil rights history while enjoying the traditions these schools have. She recalled a conversation with a friend who adamantly wanted to stay away from HBCU.
“He wanted more diversity, where I wanted to be more with the Black community,” Allen said. “He’s grown up around Black people his whole life, so now he wants more diversity. I can totally understand that. It’s really about who that person is and how in touch they want to be with their roots, where they came from.”
As for Moseley, she’s grateful she took the chance on an HBCU, and she owes that to the Lima Educational Field Trip back in 2019.
“Change isn’t the enemy. Change is one of the best things you can do in your life,” she said. “Your comfort zone is the worst place you can be. You have to step out of the box to learn new things.”