Livingstone students earn first-place awards in national honors program competition

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 4, 2021

SALISBURY — Two Livingstone College students won first-place awards in the 30th National Association of African American Honors Programs Conference, held virtually Oct. 20-24 and hosted by Alabama State University under the theme, “Embracing a Legacy of Love, Tolerance and Diversity.”

Livingstone College senior and Student Government Association President Justin E. Wade, a native of Brooklyn, competed in the oratorical competition that challenged students to discuss the triumphant strides of academic progress, economic gains and cultural dignity regarding the historical plight and current state of HBCUs, with a focus on embracing an indefatigable spirit in America. The scholar’s 10-minute speech netted him first place in the competition and a monetary award.

Livingstone College junior Emile Dogbe-Gakpetor, a native of Ghana, earned the first-place Pearl Award for his essay response to the conference theme with a focus on surviving the pandemic. Dogbe-Gakpetor along with teammates Juliet Makena, Varvara Papakonstantinou and Darion Graham competed in the quiz bowl competition. 

Faculty member Da’Tarvia Parrish, presented on the National Endowment of the Arts and “The Big Read” grant application while the college’s library director, Laura Johnson, served as chair for the Model African Union. 

“We are Blue Bear proud of these students for demonstrating excellence on this national platform,” Livingstone President Jimmy Jenkins said.  “To win an oratorical award and a writing award speaks volumes to the success of our quality enhancement program, ‘Write for Life.’ Thanks, also, to Dr. Parrish for her consistent leadership with our Honors Program.”

The virtual experience hosted more than 30 historically Black colleges and universities as students engaged in research presentations, STEM poster presentations, Model African Union, debate, quiz bowl and oratorical competitions, while faculty delved into workshops underlining best practices in honors programs, grant writing and publication opportunities. 

The conference included seminars from notable graduate programs to include Harvard, Notre Dame and Emory universities. Among companies and organizations represented were INROADS, the National Science Foundation and Wells Fargo. 

The honors program began in May 1990 when a group of Honors directors from approximately 20 Historically and Predominantly Black Colleges and Universities met at Morehouse College in Atlanta to discuss plans for a national organization of honors programs designed to address the specific needs of honors education for African-American students. The following year, the program was formally established and a set of goals was designed to promote the continued empowerment of its constituents (students) through enhanced cognitive and affective experiences.

The conference will be hosted next year by Morgan State University in Baltimore.