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President Wood sings the praises of Sac State, Black Honors College during ‘Super Sunday’

Sacramento State President Luke Wood addressed St. Paul Church parishioners during "Super Sunday," expressing the importance of attending college, as the University's new Black Honors College and other efforts aim to help close the "equity gap" for Black students. (Sacramento State/Andrea Price)

Jada Shumate was set on attending college outside of California, but is having second thoughts after learning about Sacramento State’s renewed efforts to uplift Black students.

Idara Essien-Wood holds the hand of a churchgoer during Super Sunday.
Idara Essien-Wood, seated left of President Wood, greets a parishioner during "Super Sunday" at St. Paul Church of Sacramento in Oak Park. (Sacramento State/Andrea Price)

Hearing Sac State President Luke Wood talk about the University’s new Black Honors College following Sunday services at St. Paul Church of Sacramento intrigued both Jada and her mother, Kenisha.

“I definitely am going to check it out,” said Jada. “I had a plan in my head, but this has me thinking in another direction.”

Wood and his wife and children visited the Oak Park church during Super Sunday, an annual event that is part of the CSU’s effort to enroll more Black students in college and help them obtain their degrees. All 23 CSU campuses send representatives to predominantly Black congregations for the event.

In addition to St. Paul, Sac State officials also visited Center of Praise Ministries, Genesis Church Sacramento and Calvary Christian Center, fanning out across the city to raise awareness about the importance of higher education.

In his brief speech to the St. Paul congregation, Wood shared that Sac State has more Black students than any other CSU campus. The University is currently recruiting the inaugural class for the Black Honors College, which will focus on students interested in Black history, life and culture.

The “institution within an institution,” believed to be the first of its kind in the country, will have dedicated space, faculty and staff focused on helping Black students succeed.

“Many of our Black students have been treated with distrust, disdain and disregard” in college, Wood told parishioners. Sac State will help highlight “their brilliance, their dignity and their morality,” he said.

“We’re tired of sending our students to colleges where they are not going to be valued, but are going to be featured all over the brochures,” he said. “At Sac State, they will be among people who look like them, and care about them.”

The Black Honors College joins other work Sac State is doing to narrow the gap in graduation rates between students of color and the overall student body. While the University has made dramatic gains in its overall graduation rates in recent years, this “equity gap” has persisted.

“I went to a historically Black college and I saw mentors and people who created an image in my mind that said, ‘I can do this.’ I think this will help our students who may have felt disenfranchised.” -- Kenneth R. Reece, St. Paul Church senior pastor

After church services, Sac State representatives answered questions and provided information about the University and its programs.

St. Paul’s senior pastor, Kenneth R. Reece, who plans to send his daughter Kennedy to Sac State, said he is impressed by the launch of the Black Honors College.

“I went to a historically Black college and I saw mentors and people who created an image in my mind that said, ‘I can do this,’” he said. “I think this will help our students who may have felt disenfranchised.”

As Wood chatted with parishioners after the event, Reece liked what he saw and heard from the president.

“He’s casual and down to earth,” he said. “I think he’s going to do lots of really good things.”

Addie Miles, a St. Paul parishioner, views Wood as a positive role model for Black youth.

“They can look at him and think, ‘If he can do this, maybe I can do it,’” she said.

The president asked parishioners to pray for the success of the Black Honors College and other initiatives focused on helping students achieve their dreams.

“Please pray for what we’re doing,” he said during his speech. “We know it’s going to work because we know that God is on our side.” 

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About Cynthia Hubert

Cynthia Hubert came to Sacramento State in November 2018 after an award-winning career writing for the Sacramento Bee. Cynthia believes everyone has a good story. She lives in East Sacramento with her two cats, who enjoy bird-watching from their perch next to the living-room window.

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