4 MSIs near Travel + Leisure’s Best Towns for the Holidays

by Larry McDaniel Jr.

It is that time of the year when holiday pomp and circumstance take over cities and towns across the nation. As students, staff, and faculty travel home (or stay put in their college towns), they will find themselves welcomed to a host of holiday activities, pop-up markets, and other beautiful wonderland spectacles. Today’s Monday Morning MSI Line Up looks at Minority Serving Institutions near Travel + Leisure’s “Best Towns for the Holidays.”

1) California State University (HSI)—Monterey Bay, CA


California State University, Monterey Bay is only 10 miles down the coast from Carmel-by-the-Sea, a beach town on California’s peninsula. The town is most known for its cottage-like hotels, art galleries, pristine beaches, and breath-taking sunsets. In addition, during the holiday season, Carmel-by-the-Sea transforms and lights up the sky with holiday lights. Students from Cal State, Monterey Bay can enjoy a range of events, from performing arts and cultural events, to enjoying the annual tree lighting ceremony.

2) Bowie State University (HBCU)—Bowie, MD


Bowie State University resides only 20 miles from Annapolis, Maryland. For those in the D.C., Maryland, Virginia area, you may be familiar with the famed Eastport Yacht Club Parade of Lights that takes place yearly on the Annapolis Harbor. Students from Bowie State can enjoy this holiday festivity and cap off the night by enjoying the downtown restaurants and bars, who usually offer holiday specials during the event.

3) Community College of Denver (HSI)—Denver, CO


What better way to spend the holidays and escape the pressures of academia than to play in the snow? The Community College of Denver  is 3.5 hours  from Aspen, CO, which is close in terms of access to snowy mountains. Aspen is decked out with holiday cheer and offers a plethora of free and affordable holiday activities. Students can take snowy night hikes, revel in the torchlight parade and fireworks, and/or sled down powdery slopes.

4) Francis Marion University (PBI)—Florence, SC


For many, Myrtle Beach, SC, is known as a vacation destination along the Atlantic coast; however, during the holiday season it becomes one of the most beautiful holiday cities in the South. Francis Marion University is 61 miles away, providing students with relatively easy access to the Tree Festival, Night of a Thousand Candles, and the holiday-themed boardwalk.

Know any other holiday destinations near Minority Serving Institutions? Share them in the comments!

6 Annual Kwanzaa Celebrations at MSIs

by Carol Sandoval

The month of December is full of festivities that concurrently ring in the new year. Many communities, organizations, and universities all over the world also celebrate Kwanzaa. Kwanzaa is an African celebration that rejoices the “first fruit of the harvest” and the seven principles of African thought and culture. This year it is scheduled for December 26, 2016, through January 1, 2017. Before students return home for winter break, these six MSIs are guaranteed to celebrate the African community, traditions, and values along their peers.

1) Texas College (HBCU)—Tyler, Texas


The Texas College choir partakes in an annual concert to celebrate Kwanzaa. Using melodic tunes and spiritual music, they show appreciation for the African culture. The choir also raises awareness of the holiday by inviting the entire college community to their concert.

2) Hampton University (HBCU)—Hampton, Virginia


The museum at Hampton University sets up a marketplace to celebrate Kwanzaa. The market includes an array of African and African-American gifts available for purchase and various art activities for kids. The museum also puts on a live jazz show and an evening celebration to honor the week of Kwanzaa.

3) University of Southern California (AANAPISI)—Los Angeles, California


Because USC students leave for winter break in early December, the director of the Center for Black Cultural and Student Affairs says that it has been difficult to plan their annual pre-Kwanzaa celebration. However, this does not discourage him from decorating the Center with Kwanzaa colors to unite the 40 different African American organizations on campus.

4) University of the Pacific (AANAPISI)—Stockton, California


Since 2011, University of the Pacific has hosted its first Kwanzaa celebration. The event consists of a keynote speaker, soul food, and various performances.

5) Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (HBCU)—Tallahassee, Florida


The Educational Research Center for Child Development at Florida A&M incorporates African principles to their academic curriculum. Each of the seven fundamentals of Kwanzaa are used as themes for every month of the program. In December, the Center organizes a Kwanzaa celebration to consolidate the values into one event.

6) California State University, Long Beach (AANAPISI)—Long Beach, California


The Department of Africana Studies at California State University, Long Beach organizes an event with music and poetry. They also provide “karamu,” which is the traditional Kwanzaa feast that will often include yams, black-eyed peas, and catfish.

Are there other Minority Serving Institutions that will be celebrating Kwanzaa? Let us know in the comments!

How 5 MSIs Celebrate Unique Winter Holidays

by Carol Sandoval

The end of the year is especially known as the holiday season for many people in the United States. Friends and families often gather during the last few months of the year to celebrate Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, and a host of other holidays together in love. In light of the holiday spirit, today’s Monday Morning MSI Line Up highlights 5 MSI holiday celebrations!

1) Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College (TCU)Cloquet, MN


There are often clubs and organizations on college campuses that organize special holiday events. Each December, the Human Services Club at Fond du Lac Tribal & Community College, along with other student clubs and organizations, hosts an annual holiday celebration event. The event is open to the public and over 200 people participate in the community event each year. Some of the events include food, games, prizes, and visits from Santa Claus.

For more event details, click here.

2) Gordon College (PBI)—Wenham, MA

Gordon College traditionally kicks off its holiday celebration in the beginning of December with a beautifully lit campus, holiday carols, s’mores, hot chocolate, a bonfire, and hayrides. Gordon College also hosts an Annual Christmas Gala at the local Chapel that features performances by Gordon College Children’s Choir, College Choir, Men’s Choir, Women’s Choir, Gordon College Symphony Orchestra, and the Gordon College Wind Ensemble.

For more details on the events, click here.

3) Bakersfield College (HSI)Bakersfield, CA


At Bakersfield College, the William M. Thomas Planetarium holds a beautiful holiday show called ‘Season of Light,’ that is created specifically for children. The ‘Season of Light’ event celebrates multiculturalism during holidays, as it exemplifies the historical religious and cultural rituals practiced during the time of winter solstice — not only Christian and Jewish, but also Celtic, Nordic, Roman, Irish, Mexican and Hopi.

For more details on the event, click here.

4) University of Houston (AANAPISI)Houston, TX








During the holiday season, the Center for Diversity and Inclusion Student Organization Fund at The University of Houston assists campus organizations in their efforts to showcase aspects of diversity. During the holiday season, they provide financial support and resources to spread awareness about many multicultural holidays: Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, and Mawlidan-Nabi.

For the funding resources application, click here.

5) Mt. San Antonio College (AANAPISI/HSI)Walnut, CA


During the holiday season, Mt. San Antonio College holds an “Annual Wassail Dinner & Concert” that brings together friends, family, and community members. This winter wonderland features a Christmas menu, candlelit walk to the Recital Hall, and a showcase of music featuring the College’s Chamber Singers, Concert Choir, and Fermata Nowhere.

For tickets and more information, click here.

Know other MSIs that celebrate unique winter holidays or traditions? Share in the comments below!

6 MSIs that Volunteer Around the Globe

by Jillian Cener

Did you know that December 5th is International Volunteer Day? These six MSIs think that International Volunteer Day should be celebrated all year long and around the world! Check out the awesome things these students at MSIs have done this year to help others.

1) Florida International University (HSI) – Miami, FL

Cleaning Up Curacao


Students from Florida International University spent time in Curacao this year working with Uniek Curacao, an organization dedicated to preserving the nature on the island. Together, the students worked to make fertilizer, picked 1,200 pounds of trash out from the island’s waters, and planted mangroves. Though the group of students was small, they worked hard to make a difference!

2) Howard University (HBCU) – Washington, D.C.

Distributing Water in Flint


43 students from Howard University spent their spring break this year helping the residents of Flint, Michigan. The students collected and gave out bottles of water to the city’s residents who have been dealing with contamination in their water. While they were there, the Howard students also offered tutoring and homework help to local students.

3) Kean University (HSI) – Union, NJ

Rebuilding New Jersey


A group of 24 students and staff members from Kean University found ways to volunteer in their community over spring break. The group worked with A Future With Hope, an organization committed to repairing homes damaged by Hurricane Sandy. Students helped rebuild homes in the towns of Villas, NJ, Little Egg Harbor, NJ, and Atlantic City, NJ.

4) San Diego State University (HSI) – San Diego, CA

Developing Education in Guatemala


Comalapa, Guatemala was the spring break destination for ten students from San Diego State University this year. During their time in the country, students volunteered with an organization called Long Way Home by volunteering at their sustainable school. Students helped by building parts of the school, which is made almost entirely out of trash and seeks to shed light on the community’s non-existent waste management system.

5) University of Texas – Arlington (AANAPISI) – Arlington, TX

Second Chances in Louisiana


Students from the University of Texas – Arlington spent their spring break at various community organizations in central Louisiana, including the Manna House in Alexandria, the Youth Center of Pineville, and Re-Entry Solutions of Alexandria. Re-Entry Solutions believes in giving all former inmates a second chance, and students spent their time there by calling individuals and organizing workshops and activities.

6) Savannah State University (HBCU) – Savannah, GA

Volunteering Around the World


Students at Savannah State University had multiple options when choosing where to spend their spring break. Ten students chose to go to Washington, D.C., where they worked with homeless and youth populations. Another ten chose to go to Haiti, where they planted cocoa trees and helped install sustainable energy solutions. A final twelve students helped out at orphanages and women’s shelters in Trinidad & Tobago. These students’ actions are being felt worldwide!

These MSIs and their students know that volunteering is not just about one day of the year. How have you volunteered this year, and how will you do so in the new year? Share with us in the comment section below!

7 Trans* Friendly MSIs

by Tania Irwin

In light of November being Transgender Awareness Month, we are taking the time out to highlight Minority Serving Institutions across the nation that are dedicated to creating a safe space for their LGBTQ students, including transgender and gender non-conforming students. This week’s Monday Morning MSI Line Up features 7 Minority Serving Institutions that are known for being trans* friendly.


1) University of California at Riverside (AANAPISI & HSI) – Riverside, California


UCR was the first public college in the U.S. to offer gender-inclusive housing for both incoming and returning students. In 2013, UCR collaborated with eight other campuses to organize the country’s first intercampus retreat for transgender and gender-questioning college students.Through its LGBT Resource Center, UCR offers an ally-training program to educate students about the experiences of trans* people, and year-round programming such as Transgender Day of Remembrance.

2) University of Illinois at Chicago (AANAPISI) – Chicago, Illinois


UIC’s Gender and Sexuality Center has made a commitment to collaborating with various departments across campus that are invested in LGBTQ inclusion to ensure that UIC is a welcoming and supporting learning community. Some of their student organizations include: Queers and Allies in Health, UIC Pride, and the Gender Umbrella Society. To demonstrate the strong commitment to LGBTQ inclusivity, UIC has established The CCSLGBTQPA (Chancellor’s Committee on the Status of LGBTQ People and Allies) that works with the Chancellor and Provost to address any and all issues and concerns of the LGBTQ community. We support you UIC!


3) North Carolina Central University (HBCU) – Durham, North Carolina


On April 9, 2013, after a nine-year process, NCCU became the second HBCU in the nation and the first in North Carolina to open a LGBTQ support center. NCCU has implemented LGBTQ organizations such as: COLORS, a student organization dedicated to creating a safe equitable community for all members; Polychromes, a support group for LGBTQ faculty and staff; DOMS, a student organization for lesbian-identified students; Delta Lambda Phi, a fraternity for gay and bisexual men; and OutLAW for LGBTQ faculty, staff, and students within the school of law. All programs, organizations and initiatives encourage ally participation, especially during the implementation of the Safe Zone program.

4) University of New Mexico Main Campus (HSI) – Albuquerque, New Mexico


UNM’s LGBTQ Resource Center offers assistance to all transgender and gender-questioning students, faculty, and staff. The arm of support extends beyond the center in a multitude of transgender awareness events, safe zone training, counseling, as well as universal restrooms. Students may also find solace within the LGBTQ Art Gallery, the LGBTQ Library, the Hate/Bias Intake Center, and the LGBTQ Lounge. UNM has enacted an Out and Ally List in which members of faculty and staff have pledged to act as allies to LBTQQI members of the UNM community. Way to go, UNM!

5) San Diego State University (HSI) – San Diego, California


SDSU is the second college in the United States to offer an LGBT Studies major. Students can also pursue an undergraduate minor or graduate certificate. Equipped with a Queer Student Union and the Pride Student Center, SDSU is dedicated to creating an open, inclusive and affirming safe place for the LGBTQ community. Some of the LGBTQ student organizations include: oSTEM, OUTreach, Womyn’s Outreach Association, as well as a LGBTQ fraternity (Delta Lambda Phi) and sorority (Gamma Rho Lambda). SDSU hosts a variety of programs including but not limited to a safe zone training and a Lavender Graduation ceremony open to all students who identify as LGBTQA. We see you, SDSU!


6) University of Maryland at College Park (AANAPISI) – College Park, Maryland


The Rainbow Terrapin Network of the LGBT Equity Center cover campus-wide training on areas that include but are not limited to: LGBT ally-ship, campus-wide LGBT inclusion methods on campus, and LGBT and Transgender Advocacy Training. Not to mention the newly-launched Prince Frederick Hall, which was specifically constructed for gender-neutral housing. UMD is also dedicated to educating students on trans-related issues and topics. From the LGBT Equity Library to the LGBT Studies Research Guide and Tutorial, all students have access to over 3,000 sources of information.

7) University of Southern California (AANAPISI) – Los Angeles, California


USC has a variety of LGBT-supportive organizations for students, faculty and alumni on their campus and the surrounding community. There is an LGBT Resource Center that offers trans-friendly programs and resource to anyone within the USC community. To top it off, USC Housing also offers a Rainbow Floor. This residential community provides additional support to both undergraduate and graduate who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or allies (LGBTQA).

What other Minority Serving Institutions are taking steps to be Trans* friendly? Share in the comments below!




5 TCUs near the North Dakota Pipeline

by Larry McDaniel Jr.

For months, tensions have been mounting in the Standing Rock Reservation near Cannon Ball, North Dakota over the implementation of an oil pipeline that would carry over 400,000 oil barrels daily from North Dakota to Illinois. Protestors from the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, as well as from various tribes and communities from around the country, have been on the front-lines contesting and combating the installation of this pipeline because it presents both environmental and cultural threats. In light of this, today’s Monday Morning MSI Line Up takes a look at the Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs) closest to the protest site.

1) Sitting Bull College, Fort Yates, ND


Founded by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, Sitting Bull College (SBC) is at the Standing Rock reservation, which makes it the closest Tribal College to the pipeline site. SBC is committed to building intellectual capital through academic and social development. Students and instructors and have been using this capital by actively building coalitions with other communities in protesting the pipeline.

Sitting Bull College is approximately 24 miles from the protest site.

2) United Tribes Technical College, Bismarck, ND


Founded by a group of North Dakotan native tribes, United Tribes Technical College (UTTC) is located in Bismarck, North Dakota, and aims to educationally serve Native American peoples in the region. Students and community leaders have held protests against the pipeline, and recently held a march to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers district office.

United Tribes Technical College is approximately 49 miles from the protest site.

3) Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College, New Town, ND


Formerly known as Fort Berthold Community College (FBCC), Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College (NHSC) aims to preserve their past while preparing students for the future. This preparation for the future has been visible in the fight against the protest. Leading the efforts against the pipeline is a graduate of NHSC, Lisa DeVille (Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation). She has been steadfast in urging the North Dakota Public Service Commission to reject the pipeline.

Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College is approximately 189 miles from the protest site.

4) Cankdeska Cikana Community College, Fort Totten, ND


Cankdeska Cikana Community College (CCCC) is located in Fort Totten, North Dakota, and is chartered by the Spirit Lake Dakota Nation. CCCC is geared towards developing independence and self-sufficiency in its students, as well as being dedicated to building a strong community that values mental, physical, and spiritual health.

Cankdeska Cikana Community College is approximately 213 miles from the protest site

5) Turtle Mountain Community College, Belcourt, ND


Part of the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC), Turtle Mountain Community College focuses on cultivating a learning environment that promotes the application of academic concepts to real world problems. Despite being more than 200 miles away, members from the community have supported the protests at Standing Rock by providing various supplies.

Turtle Mountain Community College is approximately 242 miles from the protest site.

Know other TCUs or Native American Serving Non Tribal Institutions (NASNTIs) involved in the protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline? Share in the comments below!


Inside 10 MSI Residence Halls

by Carol Sandoval

College dorms can be a nerve-wracking part of the residential college experience. Not only might you have to share your room with a stranger, you might also share a bathroom with the ten other students living in your hall. This is not exactly what most people look forward to when moving away from home. Thankfully, these Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) have eased the transition from your childhood home to your college home-away-from-home Check out these incredible residence halls on MSI campuses!

1) Albany State University (HBCU) — Albany, GA

The dorms at Albany State are well-equipped with a laundry room, a snack and game room, and a computer lab. In addition to that, the entrances are secured 24 hours of the day, which makes this on-campus option a safe and fun place to live.

2) Barry University (HSI) — Miami, FL
Weber Hall Triple Iso

Barry has several options for their first-year students. One of their residence halls, Weber Hall, offers four-person rooms that include their own restroom. This residence hall in particular is exclusive for first-year, female students.

3) Howard University (HBCU) — Washington D.C

College Hall includes many comfortable amenities, including cyber lounges with printers, study lounges, and resident assistants on every floor.

4) Otis College of Art and Design (AANAPISI) — Los Angeles, CA

New Building

In addition to the usual amenities, Otis College of Art and Design offers housing programs that plan events for the residents. Programs may include community service, cultural events, or holiday dinners.

5) Clayton University (PBI) — Morrow, GA

Although freshmen and first-year transfer students are mandated to live in on-campus housing, this new dorm complex can make the transition to Clayton easier. It provides 24-hour maintenance and communal areas with barbecue grills and a pool.

6) Chaminade University of Honolulu (AANAPISI)— Honolulu, HI

Image result for Hale Lokelani chaminade

On top of offering game rooms, vending machines, and larger-than-average rooms, the dorms at Chaminade University also overlook the ocean and the Hawaiian green scenery. Surrounded by breathtaking views, study breaks at Chaminade can be small vacations in paradise.

7) Shaw University (HBCU) — Raleigh, NC


Shaw University’s dorms are fully furnished with a bed, desk, drawers, and crisp walls, making it easy for students to add personal flares of different colors and patterns.

8) Southeastern Oklahoma State University (NASNTI)— Durant, OK

Built in 2006, Shearer Hall at SE OSU is a relatively new complex that includes a main lobby, with utility items such as vacuums and board games that students can check out for free. Residents are also invited to use the volleyball court and pool tables.

9) Southern University at New Orleans (HBCU) — New Orleans, LA

Spacious bedroom at SUNO Housing

Each room has two big windows that allow for a bevy natural light to enter. Some rooms also include a balcony and leather-style furniture. The residents also benefit from the 24-hour gym.

10) University of Houston (AANAPISI) — Houston, TX


Moody Towers is the go-to dorm for freshmen at U of H. Not only does it have a dining hall in the building, but it also has a very spacious lobby, gym, and a piano room. Moody Towers makes move-in a lot lighter by including a microwave and a mini-fridge in each dorm room.

Have great dorm memories or dorm decorating tips you’d like to share? Submit them in the comments below!