MADISON, Wis. - Two University of Wisconsin-Madison students are working to add more diversity in post-undergraduate education.
Black students are underrepresented in graduate school, according to a release from UW-Madison, and Anthony Wright and Brian Allen are trying to change that.
After launching #BlackandHooded last year to celebrate black students’ education accomplishments, the two are now leading a movement inspiring thousands.
On graduation day, UW-Madison graduates can tell you a college degree is something to be proud of.
"It feels awesome. I worked so hard,” Kyree Brooks said. “I just thank God for this day."
Brooks, who earned a master’s degree in special education, deserves another tip of the hat, especially when just years ago, he didn’t see it coming.
"I never saw myself as a graduate,” he said. "I didn't even know what grad school was. I knew I wanted to go to college to get a bachelor’s degree, but the door was closed after that."
“I also didn't understand what grad school was,” Wright said, but that brought him to an idea – starting a social media campaign to raise awareness and celebrate black grad students.
While completing his master’s degree in higher education at Indiana University, he took that idea to his best friend and fellow UW-Madison grad Allen, who was finishing up his master's degree as well.
They first used the hashtag #BlackandHooded last graduation season.
"We didn't know what was going to happen or if people would follow through,” Wright said. "It just blew up."
According to Wright, #BlackandHooded has been used more than 10,000 across social media.
"#BlackandHooded is really impactful for those who choose to get advanced degrees because that's not something a lot of African-American men strive to do,” Brooks said. “#BlackandHooded shows it's possible and leads by example."
"Follow that dream of yours, and when you get there, please celebrate it and don't let anyone dim that shine off you,” Wright said.
It’s more than just a hashtag. Wright and Allen have created a #BlackandHooded website and a network of black grad students who can help undergrads.
"About just like what is the GRE, what does the application process look like,” Wright listed as examples.
#BlackandHooded is giving out six $500 scholarships to first-year black graduate students pursing advanced or professional degrees. Those interested can apply starting June 1 on this website.
Wright said any proceeds from merchandise purchased on the website goes toward the scholarships.
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