For the fourth year in a row, the White House hosted the Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities’ (HBCUs) All-Star Summit. Seventy-five students from HBCUs across the nation were honored by the initiative for their high achievement in academics, leadership and civic engagement as HBCU All-Stars. Social work junior Denzel Goodlin was one of them.
Goodlin, from Woodbridge, Va., chose N.C. Central University because of an immediate connection to the heart of the school when he visited the campus during high school. He wanted to have an HBCU experience, attend school out-of-state, and ultimately to challenge himself by leaving all of his friends behind in Virginia.
From there, he blossomed.
Denzel entered college as a member of both the University Honors and Centennial Scholars programs. At the end of his freshman year, he was elected by his peers to be their 2016-17 Sophomore Class President. He currently serves as the vice president of NCCU’s Gamma Beta chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. after becoming a member just this past spring.
The Centennial Scholars Program gave him the opportunity to introduce Trayvon Martin’s mother Sybrina Fulton when she visited campus as a Rock the Mic lecturer in November 2015. That remarkable opportunity as a mere freshman fueled his confidence as a student leader.
“The opportunity to introduce his (Trayvon’s) mom was exciting for me,” he said. “That is an opportunity that I know I wouldn’t have been able to get at many other schools.”
Denzel attributes much of his success at NCCU to the faculty and staff who have helped hone his professional development, specifically thanking Student Engagement and Leadership faculty who have helped him with his leadership skills.
“I strive to be humble in everything I do,” Denzel explained. “I have a big heart and am always ready to serve, am full of energy and love. I am merely a spiritual creature having a bodily experience.”
That readiness to serve is what encouraged Denzel to launch his Developing Who You Are (DWYR) initiative in his sophomore year. This year he plans to focus on the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual development of his fellow Eagles, kicking it into high gear with a workout program next semester. From there Denzel hopes to implement wardrobe-consulting workshops based on knowledge he has gained from Career Services and the Men’s Achievement Center.
The HBCU All-Star period lasts for one academic year with student ambassadors expected to provide outreach opportunities and communication to their fellow students about the value of education. The All-Star program is used as a networking resource to give students an outlet to launch campaigns on their respective campuses.
Denzel says that his calling to use the All-Star platform is much more significant than dwelling on the initiative’s connection to the Trump administration. During his visit to the White House, he was able to meet controversial members of the administration like Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and Office of Public Liaison Director of Communications and HBCU alumna Omarosa Manigault.
“Of course I don’t agree with President Trump,” he said. “I initially applied because I saw this as more of an opportunity to gain a platform to do more of the things I would like to do. This (administration) is no way in reflective of my views.”
Even if other students have reservations about the program, Denzel encourages them to apply.
“It’s bigger than you,” he said. “I have been taken a lot more serious academically and professionally because I now have a national platform.”