B-CU Senior Janiya Jones ‘Sets the Bar’ as White House Initiative HBCU Scholar

As Bethune-Cookman University senior Janiya Jones prepares for graduation this spring, she is grateful for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity she had this fall as a White House Initiative HBCU Scholar. Selected from a competitive pool of over 300 applicants, Jones represented Bethune-Cookman as a scholar from one of the 70 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) represented. Students in the HBCU scholars program serve as White House ambassadors to their HBCU initiative and have access to numerous professional development, networking, and educational opportunities. Jones, a criminal justice major and a native of Jacksonville, Florida, served as an orientation leader on the Bethune-Cookman campus, allowing her to be a formative part of new Wildcats’ collegiate journeys. She hopes to continue her commitment to serving the community by attending law school once she graduates from Bethune-Cookman this spring. Jones admits that, at first, she did not have a sense of urgency to apply to the HBCU initiative program, but after seeing the application multiple times, she took a chance. “What attracted me to the White House Scholars program was seeing it come to my email more than once, so I took a leap of faith and applied for it.” In September, the White House held a National HBCU Week conference entitled “Raising the Bar: Forging Excellence through Innovation & Leadership,” featuring workshops, engagements, keynote addresses, and interactive exhibits geared towards connecting students with federal and private HBCU resources. Jones remembers it as one of the highlights of the White House initiative program. “I had the honor to attend sessions on topics like building your resume for the federal government and listen to HBCU Presidents share advice and discuss current issues,” she said. “The last day was a career fair with agencies like the White House, Secret Service, Department of Education, and Department of Justice. To see the many options and people who looked like me made me realize the endless possibilities out there for me.” A full-day, in-person event, there were professional development sessions, direct hiring opportunities, and government recruitment opportunities. She remembers the experience as eye-opening and empowering. The event, hosted by the CDC with presentations related to strategic planning, immunizations, and health promotion, showed Jones and other HBCU student attendees that the possibilities are endless. “It made me open my mind to what I could achieve with hard work and perseverance,” she explained. Reflecting on her time in the program, she is appreciative of the motivations she now has to dream big and make a difference. The program, which began in 2014 by the Obama administration, was an initiative designed to elevate and channel the economic, social, educational, and cultural influences that HBCUs have on the foundation of America. The program helps foster the next generation of Black leaders while helping scholars like Jones expand their education, network, and opportunities. Now that the HBCU initiative 2023 program has come to an end, Jones looks to the future on how she can apply the knowledge that she has gained to make a positive impact in the community. “Now, as I prepare to graduate, I’m excited to take the next step, informed by the wisdom and inspiration I gained as an HBCU Scholar.”

As Bethune-Cookman University senior Janiya Jones prepares for graduation this spring, she is grateful for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity she has as a White House Initiative HBCU Scholar.

Selected from a competitive pool of over 300 applicants, Jones represented Bethune-Cookman as a scholar from one of the 70 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) represented. Students in the HBCU scholars program serve as White House ambassadors to their HBCU initiative and have access to numerous professional development, networking, and educational opportunities.

Jones, a criminal justice major and a native of Jacksonville, Florida, served as an orientation leader on the Bethune-Cookman campus, allowing her to be a formative part of new Wildcats’ collegiate journeys. She hopes to continue her commitment to serving the community by attending law school once she graduates from Bethune-Cookman this spring.

Jones admits that, at first, she did not have a sense of urgency to apply to the HBCU initiative program, but after seeing the application multiple times, she took a chance.

“What attracted me to the White House Scholars program was seeing it come to my email more than once, so I took a leap of faith and applied for it.”

In September, the White House held a National HBCU Week conference entitled “Raising the Bar: Forging Excellence through Innovation & Leadership,” featuring workshops, engagements, keynote addresses, and interactive exhibits geared towards connecting students with federal and private HBCU resources. Jones remembers it as one of the highlights of the White House initiative program.

“I had the honor to attend sessions on topics like building your resume for the federal government and listen to HBCU Presidents share advice and discuss current issues,” she said. “The last day was a career fair with agencies like the White House, Secret Service, Department of Education, and Department of Justice. To see the many options and people who looked like me made me realize the endless possibilities out there for me.”

A full-day, in-person event, there were professional development sessions, direct hiring opportunities, and government recruitment opportunities. She remembers the experience as eye-opening and empowering.

The event, hosted by the CDC with presentations related to strategic planning, immunizations, and health promotion, showed Jones and other HBCU student attendees that the possibilities are endless.

“It made me open my mind to what I could achieve with hard work and perseverance,” she explained.

Reflecting on her time in the program, she is appreciative of the motivations she now has to dream big and make a difference. The program, which began in 2014 by the Obama administration, was an initiative designed to elevate and channel the economic, social, educational, and cultural influences that HBCUs have on the foundation of America. The program helps foster the next generation of Black leaders while helping scholars like Jones expand their education, network, and opportunities.

Now that the HBCU initiative 2023 program has come to an end, Jones looks to the future on how she can apply the knowledge that she has gained to make a positive impact in the community.

“Now, as I prepare to graduate, I’m excited to take the next step, informed by the wisdom and inspiration I gained as an HBCU Scholar.”