For Ja’Nae Corbin it was after doctors discovered a hip injury when she was eleven that she knew she wanted to become a pediatric oncologist. But, as the first person in her family to go to college, it was more of a dream — until last month.
Over the course of one day in February, T.C. Williams High School students walked out of the Alfred Street Baptist Church Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) College Festival with more than $150,000 in scholarships. Ja’Nae was one of them. She received three college acceptances with scholarship offers totaling $42,000.
The college festival opened up new doors that I never thought I had the ability to open for myself,” said Ja’Nae.
The Alfred Street Baptist Church HBCU College Festival evolved out of an annual event held on the third Sunday of February dating back to the 1960s when Alexandria was still very much segregated. The fair would feature just one Historically Black College.
This year, nearly 11,000 students had the opportunity to engage with 70 Historically Black Colleges and Universities. A total of 1,886 students were offered admission and more than $11.6 million in scholarships, waived fees and funding were awarded over the course of the festival.
Nine surgeries later and with what she hopes will be her last surgery looming, Ja’Nae is now a senior in T.C.’s surgical tech class and is looking to get her undergraduate degree in biology or nursing as a pathway to becoming a pediatric oncologist.
I formed a connection with the kids in the hospital. I knew what they were going through and I know what it felt like. I knew then that I wanted to be on the other side of it to help kids like them,” said Ja’Nae.
According to Alfred Street Baptist Church, Pastor Emeritus Rev. John O. Peterson began the legacy in the 1960s by recognizing one of the Historically Black Colleges/Universities each year. In 2003, the festival grew to include an event the day before where the church hosted college recruiters along with members of Greek organizations who told attendees about scholarship opportunities. Having outgrown both the church and T.C. Williams, the fair is now held at the Washington Convention Center in D.C.