By 2 Urban Girls
LOS ANGELES — They came to hear about career possibilities, the college experience and what their college or university of choice had to offer them.
Thousands of college-bound students descended on the Los Angeles Convention Center Feb. 19 for the 2022 Black College Expo. The event returned to an in-person format after being virtual the prior year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Colleges from around the country participated with some offering admissions and scholarships on site.
Students also were able to learn from entrepreneurs, while being introduced to careers that could be of interest.
One booming career is in the tech industry, where data can be leveraged to create products that enhance the quality of life.
Michael Broughton, 23, began his career at USC and quickly pivoted to the tech industry.
“I interviewed close to 3,000 college students and found 99% of them didn’t know their credit score, but were paying for a subscription service through an app,” Broughton said.
From there he founded Perch Credit, which is an app students can use to track their payments and credit scores.
“I didn’t get traditional funding but won a pitch competition that led me to Marcy Ventures and funding capital from Jay-Z,” Broughton said.
The Perch App is available on the Apple App Store for download.
During his panel, Broughton awarded three students with two Mac Book Pros, two iPad Airs and two Beats Fit Pro Earbuds.
Anise Hammonds, 16, received one of the laptops and spoke about her career aspirations.
“I attend Gardena High School and my goal is to graduate early and go to Howard University and major in law and psychology,” Hammonds said.
Many of the students participating were focused on attending college.
Zaniyah Rose, 16, attends Dominguez High School in Compton and attended with her mentor group Making Choices.
“I am here to get information on the University of Chicago and UCLA,” Rose said.
Lindsay Hughes, another panelist, spoke on the positives of being a small business owner, as he has owned McDonald’s franchises for four decades.
“America was built on small business, and I just signed my third 20-year lease with McDonald’s,” said Hughes, who hails from Watts.
He spoke about the importance of the students having a plan and following it.
“I am just glad I am here to get information about college,” said Shania Banks, 13.
Historically Black colleges and universities were well represented at the expo with booths flooded with students eager to get information.
Louis Henderson, executive director of On a Mission, provides students with opportunities to travel and learn about HBCUs in person.
“We always welcome children to attend our information sessions and learn how they too can visit these campuses and see firsthand what the school is like,” Henderson said.
Law enforcement agencies also participated as a way to recruit from the community.
“We are always happy to attend this event and promote the benefits of a career in law enforcement,” said a representative at the Los Angeles Police Department booth.
Capt. Aria Crystal-Williams spoke on the positives of leveraging a career in the military to fund a college education.
“I have become a nurse, and am now going to obtain by Ph.D. and haven’t paid a dime towards my education,” Crystal-Williams told the assembled students.
2 Urban Girls is a freelance reporter for Wave Newspapers who covers the Compton and Inglewood areas. She can be reached at email@example.com.