NEW ORLEANS – Dillard University students, Jerika Edwards ‘23 and Spencer Jones ‘23 were selected to be a part of the 2021 White House Initiative’s HBCU Scholars cohort. Students were selected by University presidential recommendations and endorsed by faculty. Edwards and Jones have a unique combination of academic achievements, campus leadership, civic engagement and entrepreneurial spirit that distinguished their candidacy. Edwards and Jones will serve as student ambassadors for the Initiative and will ensure information, resources and opportunities are distributed at Dillard University. They will be invited to attend 2021 Annual National HBCU Week Conference workshops designed to help them learn and adopt promising practices in areas such as leadership, professional development, HBCU excellence and workforce development.
Prichard, Alabama native Jerika Edwards is an urban studies and public policy major who is a Dean’s List scholar and a member of the Dillard University Thompson-Cook Honors Program. She served as freshman class president, creating strategic programming for Dillard’s Class of 2023 and later sophomore class representative. Edwards also served as public relations co-chair of Dillard’s NAACP chapter. A Dillard debate team member, Edwards was ranked fifth overall at the 2020 National HBCU Speech and Debate Tournament. Outside of her extracurricular activities, Edwards works as a resident assistant where she can create a safe haven for incoming female students. Edwards’ other activities include Student Government Association elections commissioner, assistant coach for Louisiana World School Debate Team and formerly served in University president Dr. Walter Kimbrough’s PODUS student leadership group.
“Jerika is one of the best students I ever taught. She is an outstanding student, who takes her classes very seriously. She exhibited much enthusiasm and diligence towards subject matters. She is a very strong student that shows dedication to her education and grasps the concept of each lesson taught,” Dr. Nazar Mustapha, assistant professor of financial economics shared.
Spencer Jones is a rising junior who is also an urban studies and public policy major with a concentration in pre-law. He is a member of Dillard University’s Thompson-Cook Honors Program and serves on its executive board. Jones’ other activities include NAACP vice president, student ambassador, assistant director of PODUS, the Dillard Debate Team, intern for the Office of Student Engagement and Leadership, Foundation to LEAD Program, and member of D-Elite. Jones is a recipient of the Outstanding Student Leader of the Year award.
“Spencer Jones is the perfect person to make some positive waves as a White House HBCU Scholar. He cares deeply about issues facing our communities and is equipped to offer innovative ideas and promote positive solutions. As a public policy student he has demonstrated the ability to analyze policy initiatives and present his findings in a professional manner. When Spencer speaks, people listen. We are thrilled to have his voice in the White House this summer,” Dr. Casey Schreiber, assistant professor of urban studies and public policy noted about Jones’ character.
Throughout the academic school year, Edwards and Jones will network with other scholars, federal agencies, and private partners to showcase individual and collective talent across the HBCU community.