A Dream Deferred | HBCU Conference 2024

Student Story: Cheyenne from Brooklyn, New York

We invited Cheyenne, a high school senior, to attend the 2024 A Dream Deferred™ and Historically Black Colleges and Universities Conferences. This is her story.

If anyone had asked me a month ago about the College Board, I would have said that they do the SAT, offer AP courses, and they have this thing called BigFuture that helps families plan for life after high school. And that was all. But the reality is, there is a whole lot more than that.

My name is Cheyenne, I live in Brooklyn, NY, and I’m a senior at Brooklyn Community Arts & Media High School. At a previous conference, I met Jose Rios, who works in communications at the College Board, and he shared with me an upcoming event held in New York City called the A Dream Deferred and HBCU Conference. When I told him that I was graduating soon and choosing between three HBCUs for college, he invited me to attend.

I told my mom about it, and she was ecstatic. She knows that one of my dreams is to attend an HBCU. But then she paused and asked me the same questions I had been asking myself. What would it be like? What would I even do there? What would the conference do for me? I was a little anxious about the opportunity, but then remembered Jose mentioning that I would fit right in, because it is a place for networking and learning from people who are trying to make a difference in students’ lives.

So I went, met Jose to get my badge, and entered the main room just as they were showing a video commemorating the many professionals who for 20 years had come together to organize this conference. I literally got goosebumps when they asked all the HBCU alumni to stand for recognition, and a large part of the ballroom all stood. I thought it was really beautiful to see so many HBCU graduates in one place. I knew then that this was my moment to make connections and network.

I headed to my first session, which was all about BigFuture and empowering students through Real Talk. I watched and listened as professionals from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, the University of California, and College Board talked about HBCUs and Real Talk. And the more they talked, the more I realized that I belonged here.

I had so many questions, but I was definitely not the only one. There were educators, professionals, and parents in the room all wanting to know more about helping their students plan for their future. It was so heartfelt to see that people care to make change and want to access resources.

On more than one occasion, people who learned I was a high school student would come up and offer their advice, some even compliments and personal acknowledgement. I began to understand my purpose in attending.

At the end, that’s what it was all about. It was more than just networking and meeting the right people. I got an opportunity to experience and to see with my own eyes what people that care about their work really look like.

Cheyenne W. (left) and Autumn Caviness, Director, Real Talk (right)

Pictured: Cheyenne W. (left) and Autumn Caviness, Director, Real Talk (right)

Cheyenne W. (right) networking with HBCU alumni

Pictured: Cheyenne W. (right) networking with HBCU alumni


Cheyenne W. is a senior at Brooklyn School of Arts and Media in Brooklyn, N.Y. She hopes to attend an HBCU and focus her studies on communications and public relations. Cheyenne will be the first student in her family to go to college. She hopes to one day be a PR specialist for celebrities or anyone in need. She also aims to extend her creative talents by giving back to her community with outreach in the next 5–10 years.