Philander Smith College Celebrates Black History by Recognizing High School Excellence

For the last four years, Philander Smith College has dedicated a special Black History Month celebration to recognize local high school academic all-stars during the African American High School Honors Ceremony. Since its inception, the program has honored over nearly 1,000 high school seniors from Central Arkansas schools. This year’s event, which took place on Sunday, February 23 in the Crawford J. Mims Gymnasium was the largest yet, with approximately 300 students receiving recognition. 

photograph of students and college president

Established to celebrate academic excellence in the African American community among high school seniors with a grade point average of 3.0 or higher, the program honors students from several school districts throughout the area including charter and private schools. In addition to recognition for their high school academic performance, Philander Smith also awards scholarships to eligible student attendees. For the 2020 program, a total of approximately $7.5 million in scholarships were announced.

“Because Central Arkansas is home to such bright and talented young people, it was our desire to not only applaud the outstanding high school careers of young scholars, but to also afford them with an opportunity to earn a first-class college education right here at Philander Smith,” said President Roderick L. Smothers, Sr. “We could not think of a better way to help observe Black History Month than by placing in the spotlight the next generation of future leaders and history-makers with an effort to encourage higher education.”

 A highlight of the afternoon were the two current PSC scholars featured as speakers, both of whom are from Little Rock and are alumni of the program to honor high school excellence. Jamese Lambert, ’21 and Nia James, ’20, attended the ceremony as high school seniors and their experiences in being recognized and awarded scholarships led them to alter their plans and enroll in Philander Smith College.

 Following the ceremony, the student honorees, their families, and guests were invited to a reception in the atrium of the Kendall Center where they were able to network with PSC faculty, staff, Division Chairs and current students to gain firsthand knowledge of the Philander experience – to include academic programs, financial aid resources and student services.