MILFORD MILL — Surrounded by her friends, Milford Mill Academy Grade 12 student Milani Fallin, wearing a black dress and white pearls, shook hands with a Virginia Union University representative and presented her school transcript.
Moments later, she was handed a formal acceptance letter in Virginia Union’s official colors: maroon and steel.
She smiled. She tried not to cry.
“I was not expecting this,” she said, of the instant college offer from Virginia Union at the first HBCU-BCPS College Fair at Milford Mill High.
Students from 20 BCPS high schools received 957 acceptances from the 15 schools and universities participating in the college fair.
Milani quickly received two: One from Virginia Union, another from Bowie State. A confident and cheery student, Milani is an aspiring computer science major. Like so many of her peers, she is grappling with the momentous decision of where to continue her studies after she graduates.
Event organizer Ken Berlett, the Milford Mill school counseling chair, said he strives to identify the greatest needs of his students and make every possible effort to close achievement gaps.
“For my students, and many other BCPS students of color, that greatest disparity has been the pursuit of higher education beyond our doors,” he said. “In my work, I have found that the most significant barriers for minority students have never been a lack of will or ability, but instead a lack of guidance.
“Too often, the dreams of many have been deferred due to the complexities of the college application process itself, but moreover, the fees associated with applying for college.”
So Milford Mill brought together institutions of higher learning that best fit the learning styles of students, all at once, in once location, on the same day.
“To convince these schools to eliminate the application process, and in many cases the application fees, was through the collaboration of all BCPS school counselors to promote our event and register hundreds of students form every corner of Baltimore County,” Berlett said.
Milford Mill Principal Kyria Joseph, a Morgan State University alum, said Milford Mill Academy was inspired to extend this opportunity to students from throughout the county. She greeted students throughout the event.
Morgan State offered 154 admissions at the fair, more than any other school who participated.
When the fair opened at 8 a.m., Milford Mill Grade 12 student Raniya Holmes was one of the first students in line.
An aspiring clinical psychologist, she received acceptance to Morgan State University, much to the delight of her family members who went there. But Raniya has her eyes on another school in attendance — Norfolk State University — and was excited to visit their booth at the fair.
“This,” she said of the fair, “is a blessing.”
When Overlea High students arrived at the college fair, they quickly gathered their paperwork and received a welcome from Milford Mill staff.
Almost immediately after sitting down, students began asking which schools offered their desired majors. There was excitement in their voices, a noticeable enthusiasm found no matter where you looked.
Milford Mill Academy’s Jordan Johnson wants to start his own trucking business one day. He’s interested in majoring in business management and administration and is currently going through the college application process.
Johnson placed second at the Baltimore County Wrestling Championships last year despite wrestling heavyweights who were often five and six inches taller than he was. He is determined, no question, and spent his morning visiting as many of the colleges as time allowed, greeting each representative with a smile.
“It allows me to understand what opportunities are out there,” he said. “I have gotten lots of information.”
Many success stories from the fair were shared via social media.
Congratulations to all the students who participated. Best wishes as they make the touch decisions for where their futures will take them.