By Ariyana Griffin
LADERA HEIGHTS — The Clark Atlanta University Alumni Association of Los Angeles hosted its annual barbecue send off for the freshmen class of 2026. The event was held July 30 at Ladera Park where students, alumni, friends and family were able to network, learn about the culture at historically Black colleges and universities, ask questions and more.
Clark Atlanta University is more than 2,000 miles from Los Angeles. The picnic allowed students to connect with each other and get to know people from home before they even step foot on campus.
“Having the send off at least puts a face, it gives you a familiar face once you arrive on campus,” says Tamar Gantt, the chair of the Clark L.A. Alumni Association. “It gives you your first friend.”
Many parents expressed that they were a bit nervous about sending their kid out of state, but they didn’t let that stop them from going.
“I’m excited for her to experience the HBCU experience, but I’m also nervous because she’s born and raised in L.A.,” said Shawnee Muhammad, a parent of a freshman at the send off.
Students were asked to introduce themselves and alumni shared stories and advice about their time in Atlanta and how to navigate the new environment.
“My whole life I’ve grown up saying ‘I want to move, I want to get out of L.A. when I go to college. I want to go as far as possible,’” said Kaiya Moffett, an incoming freshman. “But, then when I got into Clark I was like oh, the time is here.”
As move-in day approaches Moffett said she feels prepared but still nervous about embarking on a new journey. The send off accomplished its mission of connecting her with other students from Los Angeles and giving them more insight into campus life.
“This picnic has actually motivated me more because of the alumni,” she said, adding that she chose Clark because she didn’t “want to go a school that didn’t focus on Black history.”
Gantt explained how his first introduction to the university was through the freshmen send off that he attended in 1995 led by Carolyn McIntosh.
“When I made the decision to attend [Clark], I made it kind of sight unseen,” Gantt said. “I had never been to the school before and I had never been to Atlanta,”
At that time there were only four or five students at the send off, he says. It was a major difference than the turnout in 2022, when more than 20 students attended the picnic.
If Clark Atlanta University Alumni would like to get involved, they can reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org and follow them on Instagram @caua_losangeles.