Freshman Enrollment Up 40 Percent At Hampton University

For years, Ashia Williams was used to being a minority in school, despite the diversity of her high school in her hometown of Charlotte, N.C.

Once she got to Hampton University this fall, Williams, 18, said she experienced something she rarely had before — she wasn’t the only black student in a classroom.

“(On Monday) I went to my humanities class for the first time and it was nice to be surrounded by so many black people with so many different views from all of us,” Williams said, “compared to going to an (Advanced Placement) class in high school and being the only black person in that class and having all of the white faces around you look to you as if that’s the only black voice that’s out there.

“Here, there are so many different views,” Williams said. “At home, I’d kind of just gossip with my friends. Here we can talk about what’s really going on in the world.”

Williams is one of about 1,400 freshmen who swelled the ranks of Hampton University’s undergraduate student population this year. That’s up about 40 percent from the class of 1,000 last year.

It’s a trend that’s also happening at other historically black colleges and universities, or HBCUs. Norfolk State University, which is a public HBCU, saw its enrollment rise from 475 freshmen in 2015 to 1,042 this fall — a 119 percent increase. Virginia State University, a public HBCU near Petersburg, said its enrollment is up 30 percent.

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