admitted only 224 black students and enrolled only 98 in 1998. And while the Prop 209-era environment for black students at UC systems schools may be uncertain-only 131 enrolled at UCLA. in 1998, down from 219 the previous year-the school made the BLACK ENTERPRISE/DAYSTAR TOP 50 list at No. 42.
Test scores and GPAs aside, what distinguishes successful African American high school students gain entrance to highly selective colleges is often their motivation and drive to succeed. Chloe Hilliard, 18, has been in accelerated classes and programs for gifted students since she was in elementary school. While this distinction would be notable for any student, anywhere, it is absolutely attention-grabbing for Chloe, who’s spent her entire academic life attending New York City public schools. “Chloe got the best of what New York City public schools had to offer,” say her parents, Vincent and Valieda Hilliard. The largest public school system in the country, New York City public schools have been noted primarily for its extremes: Westinghouse scholars-usually white and Asian-on one end, and large numbers of dropouts-usually black and Latino-on the other.
Hilliard says she and her parents started discussing colleges during her sophomore year at Manhattan’s Murray Bergtraum High School; by that time she had decided on journalism, as a career. Almost six feet tall, her extracurricular activities included serving as the school yearbook editor, school newspaper editor-in-chief, member of the student advisory management and a co-captain of the girls basketball team. Her journalism teacher, Wayne Gagnon, showed her how to take structured courses that would lead to a college major in journalism. When she started the college application process, Hilliard turned to Gagnon and her parents for help. When it came time to start the college application process, it was Gagnon, in addition to her parents, who Hilliard turned to for help. “The college advisors would advise Asian students where to go, but when it came to African Americans, they would just ask ‘where do you think you can get into?’ ” Hilliard recalls. The fact that NYU only offers academic scholarships, was “another reason why I looked at NYU,” says Chloe, who scored 1140 on the SATs and maintained a 3.3 GPA in her advanced placement courses. Hilliard found the school also offered one of the top journalism programs in the country. While she applied to and was accepted by five East Coast schools, she chose NYU, No. 43 on the BLACK ENATERPRISE/DAYSTAR TOP 50 list, because she wouldn’t be far from her home and parents in Brooklyn.
The determining factor was the amount of scholarship money she could get. Although it would cost about $36,000 a year to attend NYU, Hilliard got a full academic scholarship from the university, along with a state tuition assistance program (TAP) supplement. She also won two private scholarships including one from the New York Association of Black Journalists, and took a small loan. It was enough. “Price is so significant,” says mother Valieda. “Once a child has a dream and you’ve been