Bound for Spelman College in the fall, SeKai says she was offered more than $3 million total in different scholarships and accepted to 15 schools, including Yale and the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn).
SeKai and her mother, Shaunte Parker, documented her college-decision journey on social media from its start to her announcement video, which revealed she’d been offered a full ride for four years.
SeKai says HBCUs weren’t part of the equation when she was first thinking about which college to attend. “Coming from a background of learning only in predominantly white spaces since pre-school, my environment had conditioned me to think that HBCUs are lesser than, or places where kids from my background don’t go,” explains SeKai, a Bowie, Maryland, native. “I spent my entire high school career with the thought of attending an Ivy League school as my motivation to work hard and get out of the space that I was in.”
But when she witnessed the Black Lives Matter uprisings in the summer of 2020, she began to reconsider the idea of attending an HBCU. On the final day of her senior year, she realized Spelman was the college for her, after her classmates sang “Since You’ve Been Gone” by Kelly Clarkson and she didn’t know a single lyric.
“In my head, my imagination ran wild. I heard frats barking and whistling; I saw sororities strolling; I heard songs I actually enjoyed; and I felt like, ‘This is where I am supposed to be,’” SeKai says. “I do believe [my high school] nurtured my identity as a woman and empowered me to use my voice. [But] I also believe that this space did not nurture my identity as a Black woman [in] the same [way].” She continues, “I felt like my identities as a Black person and a woman could not coexist in the space that I was in. It’s almost impossible to discover who you are while simultaneously trying to prove that your existence as a Black woman holds value.”
Students are applying to HBCUs at record numbers, even choosing them over Ivy League universities.
— NBC News NOW (@NBCNewsNow) June 17, 2022