September 22, 2023

Utica Campus students chosen for White House Scholars program

“The 2023 HBCU scholars are the largest cohort since the inception of this recognition program in 2014"
BY: Rhonda Dunaway

UTICA – The U.S. Department of Education and the White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence and Economic Opportunity through Historically Black Colleges and Universities has selected two scholars from the Hinds Community College HBCU-Utica Campus to be ambassadors for the upcoming scholastic year 2023-24.

Atlantis Funchess of Brandon and NiShan Shears of Jackson are in that number. Students who participate in this honors program will be encouraged to work in their communities, doing work that as stated by the U.S. Dept. of Education in a recent news release, should “unite others around student success, work to strengthen our democracy, and grow our economy.”

The pair will travel to Crystal City, Virginia for the conference. There were over 300 applicants and 102 undergraduate, graduate, and professional students were chosen.

According to the news release from the Dept. of Education, “The 2023 HBCU scholars are the largest cohort since the inception of this recognition program in 2014 and represent a record number of institutions, with the HBCU participation rate now over 70 percent.”

Shears and Funchess will both attend Hinds at Utica as sophomores in the fall. Shears is a general studies major.

“But the classes I’m taking are putting me on track to pre-veterinarian school,” Shears said. He plans to transfer to Jackson State University or Alcorn State University. “But I will attend Mississippi State to attend Veterinary School.”

And as far as the ambassadorship, like Funchess, too, he is waiting for the experience of the conference to decide how and what he will be doing to make a difference in his community.

Miss Funchess is a Utica cheerleader. That cheerleader spirit is part of the reason Funchess is looking forward to the conference. She is eager to learn how to lift up her community.

“I applied because my advisor told me it was going to be a program in learning how to create meaningful changes for the good of communities,” Funchess said. “And I definitely want to have a meaningful impact in my community.” She is a biology major at Utica and plans to transfer to Alcorn State University for a degree in forensics.”