In an interview with Blavity, Young told us more about the organization and the work that they are doing. HBCUTravelers was birthed out of Young's 2014 study abroad experience. She studied in Thailand for a semester where she decided to get lost and enjoy being solo in an unfamiliar place outside of the States. After having an enlightening experience, upon return Young decided to share her experience with other students on campus.
During discussions with her peers on campus she realized that there were barriers and limitations students had placed on themselves — they weren't “brave enough” to go to a country they weren’t familiar with, they couldn't go to a place where there “weren't any black people,” or they weren't “rich enough” to study abroad or travel in general. "I decided I needed to work harder to break those barriers," said Young.Cultural Exchange. | NCAT student @beautyofabennett in Osaka, Japan! #NCAT #Osaka #Japan #AggiePride #hbcutravelers A photo posted by @hbcutravelers on
Young's decision to break those barriers led her to officially launch HBCUTravelers in February 2016. Kia told us that following her launch, her impact was already being felt on campus. 2 months after its founding, HBCUTravelers launched its first scholarship to send a student to Costa Rica on a 3-week volunteer trip with uVolunteer. "uVolunteer waived the program fee and HBCUTravelers purchased the student's flight, making the trip completely free. The student winner flew to Costa Rica on July 29 and had a great trip, returning to the States on August 19th," she said. Kia Young isn't the only person behind the operations of this amazing organization. There are five members of the Board of Directors. The team consists of NC A&T students and alums Austin Ogletree, Mariyah Presley, Jeffron Smalls and Brian Oulds. All 5 of the students on the HBCUTravelers Board of Directors are majoring in either mechanical engineering, industrial engineering, or biomedical engineering.Talk about balancing a hard course load and the desire to make a difference. The sky is the limit for the organization as they raise funds for their HBCUTravelers Scholarship Fund, continue to provide support and outreach to HBCU students and recruit campus representatives on all HBCU campuses. Congrats to HBCU Travelers for taking away the excuse of " I have class" and proving that you can make a difference even with a full course load. HBCU alumni, what's our excuse?Classic. | NCAT student @marcmillr in San Francisco, CA! #NCAT #SanFrancisco #California #GoldenGate #hbcutravelers A photo posted by @hbcutravelers on