The Student News Site of Alexandria City High School

Theogony

The Student News Site of Alexandria City High School

Theogony

The Student News Site of Alexandria City High School

Theogony

Virginia State University President Visits ACHS

Virginia+State+University+President+Visits+ACHS

On-site Admission Granted to Several Students in Attendance.

Emily Milton

Staff Writer

On Wednesday, with counselors and staff decked out in blue and orange, President Makola M. Abdullah, Ph.D, of Virginia State University (VSU) spoke to prospective students at Alexandria City High School about why they should choose VSU, a popular Historically Black College and University (HBCU) for their post-secondary education.

Abdullah is a graduate of Howard University, another HBCU, and attended Northwestern University for his Ph.D. He said that his graduation from Northwestern led him to become the youngest African-American to receive a Ph.D. in Engineering. 

When told it was a big deal to have a university president speak to ACHS students, he said he hoped he would be the only president to visit ACHS as this would make VSU stand out to ACHS students by making them feel like they were truly wanted there. He said in response to a question about why he became president, “I don’t like VSU because I work there. I work there because I like it.” 

Abdullah said that approximately 90% of VSU’s students identify as Black, a number he said he would like to decrease in favor of more diversity among other races, while still holding on to the school’s origins as a place for Black students and of Black history. 

Abdullah underscored that VSU provides exceptional mental health support for its students, particularly amid the Black Lives Matter movement, which he said made this moment one of the most “incredible times to be alive.” 

He said his daughter’s graduation from VSU is one of the reasons people should trust his judgment in VSU’s quality. “I wouldn’t ask you to [send your child to VSU] if it wasn’t good enough for me,” he said. 

Abdullah declined to speak on the differences between Howard (his alma mater) and VSU, as he said everyone’s college experience is different. Using a shoe metaphor, he asked the audience, “Which Jordans are the best?” An eruption of different answers emerged with reasons why some were good and some were bad. He likened the variety in responses to how people respond to schools.   

Abdullah said VSU’s Division II status keeps students from being treated as a “bank,” which lets him go to games for enjoyment and to support his students, not as a way to bring money to the school or its coaches. A basketball player, he highlighted the viral video in which he went head to head with social media star “Apho” in a mini basketball game on campus, where Abdullah beat Apho at his own game with a sneaky “cross-over” maneuver. 

Abdullah said students shouldn’t worry about the acceptance rate or grade point averages. He said that VSU wants people that have passion and want to do something of worth. “If you want to go to VSU, you get to go to VSU,” he said.

After a student mentioned in a question to the president that his mother had been a VSU graduate, Abdullah attempted to waive concerns about attending the school one’s parent(s) went to, saying, “Mommy and Daddy’s school left when they graduated, it’s your school now.” 

Another highlight of his visit was some students in attendance received on-site admission to the school.  

In a note of encouragement, Abdullah stopped mid-session his discussion to say, “Congratulations to everyone in this room. Congratulations for being here.” 

Photo by Hanafia Arsad

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Virginia State University President Visits ACHS