Draft picks move over – it’s HBCU Signing Day!

Graduating from West Orange High School with a 4.0 average and a plan to become a doctor, Kellyn Slaughter is a confident young woman who had one major worry … the requirement to take biology and chemistry in the same semester.

Her networking at this year’s HBCU Greatness Signing Day event, sponsored by PSEG Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), paid off and rid her of her worries. There, she met a Hampton junior who is a biology major and who assured her she would be fine as long as she remains focused.

“This event made me feel loved. I felt like everyone cared about what I’m going through. It showed me that I have a good team around me who can help me if I need it,” Kellyn said.

The relatively new event was designed after athletic draft picks because its creator, William Parrish Jr., president & CEO – NobleStrategy, LLC, believes that academic stars deserve equal if not more attention and support.

The event, which attracted about 75 area students and their families, included the networking, signing ceremony and remarks by HBCU (historically Black colleges and universities) alums.

HBCUs represented included Clark Atlanta University, Delaware State University, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (A&T), Spelman College and Tennessee State University.

Jaelen Clyburn, of Maplewood, a rising sophomore majoring in finance at Howard University, said she came back to the event because it helped her when she attended. “It helped me build a network even before I got to Howard, not only with alumni but with other students.”

The event gave returning students like Kaia Atexide, of Bloomfield, a rising sophomore majoring in business marketing at North Carolina A&T, an opportunity to share their personal experiences and challenges – to prepare rising freshmen for the transition into university.

Kellyn’s dad, Ron Slaughter, who is the pastor of St. James AME Church in Newark, said he is both grateful for the event and for PSEG’s support. “It felt phenomenal” Slaughter said. “What I’ve emphasized all along is that I wanted my daughter to have the same energy and enthusiasm for her decision that athletes get leading up to their professional signings. She is that special.”

Slaughter went a step further and took to social media to do his own elimination rounds when Kellyn narrowed her choices to 4, 2 and finally 1 university. He said the response was terrific, with posts going viral.

“Hampton is a brand new experience for us. She’s the first to attend and we’re extremely excited,” Slaughter said. “But I won’t do what my father did during my college move in. He dropped me, unloaded me and left. I’m actually staying, with Kellyn and her two siblings, a whole week – it will be a celebration and vacation.”

Kellyn said she wants to specialize in obstetrics and gynecology, in particular, to help women of color like herself. She said the fact that PSEG sponsored the HBCU Greatness event shows her the progress being made in race relations in America.

Lauren Ugorji, Lead Writer - PSE&G

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