BY ASHLEY D. THOMAS
Bethune-Cookman University welcomed Congresswoman Corrine Brown, members of The Links, Inc., and 12 girls from Butler Middle School of Jacksonville to the university on Monday.
Brown and members of her social organization, The Links (Jacksonville chapter) brought the girls to B-CU in an effort to stimulate more interest in higher education and HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities).
Brown also met with B-CU administrators to talk about the state of HBCUs, educational funding and ways that Congress can help. The girls took a guided tour of the campus and foundation house.
“I work very closely with the president (Dr. Edison O. Jackson),” Brown told the Daytona Times. “I have had him in Washington several times testifying with Congress and with the Secretary of Education. He really understands the role of historically Black colleges and he is one of my allies. Links, an organization I’m involved with has been working with these young ladies, getting them ready for college and to be all that they can be.”
The U.S. Representative’s Fifth Congressional District covers parts of Duval, Clay, Putnam, Alachua, Volusia, Marion, Lake, Seminole, and Orange counties,
More tours on tap
Brown said the group will tour other universities as well.
Bethune-Cookman University was the first school on the tour, Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, slated as the second.
“We have worked with these young ladies of Butler Middle School for over seven years to provide academic enrichment in the afternoons,” added Brenda Simmons Hutchins, a 1971 graduate of Bethune-Cookman. “This is the first of a series where we are exposing these young ladies to historically Black colleges.”
“This is a point in their lives where the world is their oyster. So the most exposure we can give them to as many institutions, as many majors, as many ideas that we can put in their hands at this point is what we are trying to do. We know that as they grow older they will be narrowing their choices, but at this point we are at the first level of awareness,” Hutchins added.
“The girls are called GEMS (Girls Empowered and Making Strides),” Hutchins added.
The Jacksonville Links has encouraged the GEMS to embrace healthy living habits, money management, visual arts and literary reinforcement.