"My name is Jaiden Emerson and I am a first-year SPED teacher in Houston, Texas. I am a high school graduate of Denver East High School and a graduate of the University of Northern Colorado with my bachelors in Early Childhood Education. In 2016 during my junior year of high school I was given an amazing opportunity to go on the first HBCU tour with RISE 5280. This was such an amazing experience that I shared with my best friend and was able to meet so many people along the way from different cities and states in the U.S., and develop strong relationships with people in Colorado that I never thought I would be friends with. I gained so much knowledge on the history of multiple HBCU’s, got multiple perspectives on college students at the time and what their life was like as Black students attending schools designed for them and their success. We went to museums, football games, campuses, sat in on mock classes, had the opportunities to speak with professors and staff about what to expect and not to expect, tried new foods, gained a better understanding of Greek life and how to balance school life and social life. This was a great experience for me, despite the fact that I knew I wanted to stay in state for college. It gave me a little idea of what school outside of Colorado would be like and encouraged me to apply to 2 of the schools we saw just in case I changed my mind.
Aside from the experiences, the people I met and the adults who chaperoned the trip were amazing. They all were very encouraging, supportive & fun to be around. They made sure our safety was a number one priority and that we enjoyed ourselves and learned from the experience. Being on the road was one of the best parts and allowed us to bond with each other, share common interests, and create overall memories with each other. I was also given the opportunity to participate in a study that helped cover the majority of the trip cost so that I could go and participate. I am truly glad this was something that I was a part of and have seen grow so much and into something that many many high school students can appreciate, look forward to and be a part of. I truly thank them for this opportunity and would do it all again if given the chance."
"My experience with Rise 5280, is not only did it open a lot of doors for me but gave me the skills to network, communicate, and help better my time management. It has also allowed me to travel and see there is more to this world then I’ve known as just Denver, CO. This also has been a way to get away and let go of everything and open your ears and mind to hearing how to deeper further my education if I choose that route. It also gives me sense of family because I know I can text any of the leaders and they will get back to me; even after the trip was over and up to now. It was also what I was always looking forward to was getting on the plan to go see all my different HBCU’s and it also made me a more curious person. It has taught me a lot and if I could do it all over again I would 100%."
"My experience with RISE 5280 and the HBCU tour was an eye opener for me. Before I went on the trip I wasn't too sure about college, I actually never thought about going. This trip motivated me to consider going to college and extend my education after high school. I love how the HBCU tour pushed me to come out of my shell. I'm an introvert so I tend to not talk much, especially around 30 other kids. So on the first day I was a lone wolf but once we were assigned to our hotel room with our roommates, the other girls and I were able to start a conversation, so I wasn't alone anymore and there we made a pack. Visiting all of the different colleges was also a good experience because I got to ask the colleges upfront my questions, instead of waiting on an email back. Actually getting to see these colleges in front of me gave me a perspective on whether or not these specific colleges would best fit me. I found a college I was in love with once I stepped foot on the campus, along with my other peers who were on the HBCU tour. Some even got accepted to their desired colleges on that trip. All in all RISE 5280 and the HBCU tour has helped me in so many ways, even during these trips and after. It's like a family, they never gave up on me and still stayed in contact which i cherish, we all support and love each other. These trips have taught me so much about college and even real life world obstacles I go through and how to face these adversities in life."
"I just wanted to talk to you about what I've learned in the thankfulness I have for the HBCU program and the opportunities they gave to me I learned more about myself and I could ever really ever imagine from how I carry myself from basic principles of my major and I wouldn't have gained the knowledge and experience I would have now if I didn't go on that tour and I didn't learn about who I am as a person and what I can do for myself and others with my talents and abilities to me being friends with others and making connections is the most important thing to me."