Baltimore — HBCUs have been continuing to make significant strides to prepare the next generation of Black professionals, and Paul Quinn College is doing just that.
PQC, an HBCU in Dallas, is the nation's first and only Urban Work College, meaning the institution is focused on providing them with career-changing opportunities from the moment they step on campus. According to Paul Quinn, "the Work Program strives to ‘poverty proof’ the education experience by 1) providing students with meaningful work opportunities that allow them to better serve the Paul Quinn community; 2) developing the necessary skills, habits, and experiences needed to be competitive in the 21st-century job market; and 3) actively contributing towards the cost of their education."
Students can work on campus or with one of their many corporate partners, such as JP Morgan, Bank of America, Dallas Stars, Granite Properties, etc. Residential full-time students must participate in the program, even if they do not show financial need. "As part of their participation, students work between 300 and 400 hours per academic year in order to earn a Work Program Scholarship and to receive a cash stipend. Students are permitted to work a minimum of 10 hours per week and a maximum of 20 hours per week." Students can use this unique opportunity to gain experience while stepping into roles they may have yet to consider before the program.
Trent Dixon, a junior business administration major from Chicago, is now working with JP Morgan Chase through the program Paul Quinn has provided. He also has worked in various positions ranging from the Office of Enrollment at the institution to the 3 to 1 Foundation.
"My HBCU experience so far is a blessing, and I'm grateful that I'm a part of an HBCU family because I always wanted to go to an HBCU since I was in grammar school," he said. "Since I've been here at the institution, I have had the exposure through the work college, getting the resources that I need to be successful in my academics and work life."
Dixon has been in the program since his freshman year at Paul Quinn; he explained that he attended sessions to prepare him for the program, which led him to a career fair with different offices at the college. Before walking across the stage and receiving his degree, he already had multiple corporate world experiences and accolades.
Paul Quinn is a small college; according to Bestcolleges, it has about 468 undergrad students. Dixon explained that this should not be why prospective students should not consider the institution.
"Of course, it may be a small institution compared to the other big HBCUs, but being a part of Paul Quinn's family and a Quinnite, you'll have so much exposure," he said. "You would not have what we have at Paul Quinn of going into the workforce your freshman year; you'll be most likely starting your junior year and senior year, and compared to us, we'll be already ahead of the game."
Dixon was recently named a National Black MBA Association HBCU Scholars for 2023-24.
Mariya Ronczyk, a sophomore psychology major from Miami majoring in psychology in hopes of becoming a criminal psychologist, is also working with JP Morgan Chase this semester.
"What I love the most is that because it's a work college, it's basically surrounded by a black community wanting to help black students persevere," she said.
Ronczyk shared that the program allows students to see the range of their career options and has allowed her to see the many connections psychology has in different work fields. Her first placement through the Work Program was with the University of Texas at Dallas for urban research and environmental justice; through that experience, she gained a passion for environmental justice advocacy. "It's definitely a blessing to have so many things to get into, to explore what you really want to do with your life," she said.
Kennedy Austin, a sophomore finance major from Austin, Texas, works at Hall Structured Finance.
"By your second year or your second semester, you'll already have the experience that starts in the corporate world,' she said. She explained that the program also provides aid with building and working on the students' resumes to ensure they are prepared for the opportunities coming their way. "It's going to be personal, and it's going be intentional. Because Paul Quinn is a smaller campus, everything is intentional, and everything is sort of curated for you and definitely helps you and prepares you for that for your life."
Austin also explained that even though the institution is small, it should not deter anyone from attending and gaining the unique experiences the college provides students.
Ariyana Griffin is a graduate student at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland. She is a California native and graduate of Clark Atlanta University. Follow her on X: @Ariyanaaganee and Instagram: @ari.yana.g.
Edited by Nykeya Woods