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News

White House announces…

When leadership of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities announced its 2017 HBCU All-Stars in a Sept. 23 news release, one student from the nation's largest HBCU was selected to perform the hard work that comes with the leadership position.
Passion Williams-Toomer, HBCU All-Star

White House announces an HBCU All-Star: Passion Williams-Toomer

When leadership of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities announced its 2017 HBCU All-Stars in a Sept. 23 news release, one student from the nation's largest HBCU was selected to perform the hard work that comes with the leadership position.

The HBCU with the nation’s largest enrollment in 2017 is St. Philip’s College and Passion Williams-Toomer (kinesiology) is the college’s 2018 season HBCU All-Star, succeeding the college’s immediate past HBCU All-Star (Damon Lake), who becomes an HBCU All-Stars alumni after a season of giving back. This week, Williams-Toomer returned from Washington. D.C., after training for a year of public service aimed at helping officials in the White House and at the Department of Education meaningfully connect with students in order to evaluate and advance academic excellence at historically black colleges. To ensure that Williams-Toomer was ready to work with the higher education enterprise at the seat of government, she was asked to formally respond to a question, based on her knowledge and experience, to identify a specific federal policy and explain how she would plan to implement the policy at her HBCU if she was selected to serve.

In a cell phone conversation between classes, Williams-Toomer explained that her outreach will be inspired by the landmark federal legislation in the United States that prohibits racial discrimination in voting that is the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

"As an HBCU All-Star, I would like to educate my peers about the Voting Rights Act of 1965," Williams-Toomer shared. "Helping students understand the history of the Voting Rights Act, the role students played in getting it enacted, the current threat to it and the continued importance of voting are important to me. While I am still learning how to use this right to participate, I feel it is really important. Moreover, given the current political climate we have to be more engaged and more vigilant about voting. I would like to highlight these trends, engage students in understanding the importance of voting---especially on the local level---and register students to vote. I would use the HBCU All-Star platform to engage local leaders, HBCU alumni groups and civic organizations such as the NAACP to help educate and heighten awareness," said Williams-Toomer.

With an NAACP national convention coming to San Antonio in 2018---coinciding with her forecast summer 2018 SPC graduation date---Williams-Toomer and students she reaches out to as a White House HBCU All-Star have a short but exciting season of civics opportunities to both give back with and learn from.

"On my campus, the HBCU All-Star is regarded as a student leader and is supported by the college leadership," Williams-Toomer continued. "The student is introduced to the governing board of the Alamo Colleges District and works with the college’s student success division. This level of support traditionally allows for access to other student leaders and use of campus facilities for student engagement activities. As a member of the Collegiate 100 student leadership organization, I leverage my involvement to promote my All-Star project. I know that this is an ambitious goal; but, I recognize my limits and understand how this commitment will fit into my academic goals. I will need to work with my All-Star advisor and peer leaders to set an achievable calendar and a measureable outcome. I’m looking forward to this opportunity," Williams-Toomer explained.

"It was nice to be thought of in a leadership role," Williams-Toomer said in a bit of an understatement on her leadership history prior to selection as a White House HBCU All-Star. "My goal is to become a personal trainer or a coach of volleyball and track, and for me those professions will serve persons of middle school age. I am the student coach for the women’s volleyball team at St. Philip's College, but I'm really just as normal as anyone else. Other than coaching sports, I had not contributed to my HBCU. I just feel seriously about the topic of voting, and I've been asked by The White House to share my opinion on voting with peers of my same age and experience level at an HBCU. I think that may change how they feel about voting," said Williams-Toomer. "The White House HBCU All Star responsibility is my sophomore year project, tackling something that can affect your life drastically. I want to have it (interactions with peers) in a formal meeting rather than a conversation," Williams-Toomer explained.

"I did not see myself as a leader until I took the trip (to Washington), and I was with others who had goals to see their colleges prosper as well. I usually get anxious about being around a lot of people I don’t know, but the moment I realized I was a leader was when I was in a hallway crowded with All-Stars. It felt like home, with a lot of people who looked like me. They have ambition and they are empowered by the support of The White House and its resources,” Williams-Toomer said.

Leaders at both The White House and St. Philip’s College are probably smiling at her statement. The program is already having its desired effect in inspiring student success.

Williams-Toomer's learning and leadership journey at St. Philip's College includes completing an internship in 2017 at the Roots Fitness location at 2334 Jackson Keller Road https://www.rootsfitnesssa.com/ when she also earned her personal trainer certification. The firm teaches the science and application of human physiology and biology to help clients achieve changes in body composition, pain reduction and understanding.

"The internship was hands-on in doing personal training and making plans for client workouts," said Williams-Toomer. "I currently enjoy training rather than being the boss of the training, but if I started my own business, that would be different... I've also taken classes in my field at University of Incarnate Word in addition to having my certification as a personal trainer," Williams-Toomer said.

Facts on Passion Williams-Toomer, third White House HBCU All Star from St. Philip's College

  • All-Star focus: Voter registration for students
  • Hoping to graduate: Summer of 2018
  • Fiancée: Miguel Santiago, in the Navy and stationed in Bremerton, Wash.
  • First volleyball game of 2017: Third week in October.
  • D.C. trip recollections: "We worked the entire time. We were in the White House on a Monday when we learned about excellent scholarship and internship opportunities. The next day we toured the White House in five minutes and it was excellent---so strictly focused on business. We had a short seminar in the White House with Ms. Omarosa Manigault (Assistant to the President and Director of Communications for the Office of Public Liaison), the day after. There were networking opportunities everywhere. The other All-Stars have things that could contribute to what I may have to do in the future. We visited the (Smithsonian) Museum of African-American History for a couple of hours in the morning, then we flew home."
  • Family reaction: From initial news on her HBCU All-Star selection to her work inside The White House last week, it's an understatement to say that Williams-Toomer's family was excited. As one child in a comparatively large family that includes 18 siblings, Williams-Toomer is a member of a military family originally from Youngstown, Ohio. The Texas part of the family's military journey took them first to Killeen (2006-2014), and then to San Antonio, where Williams-Toomer presently lives with two siblings and her mother, Army Sgt. 1st Class Janine Toomer, a career soldier with 26-years of service, currently serving her country as a career counselor at the joint base at Fort Sam Houston. "They were definitely excited about it, and they are excited about my future," Williams-Toomer recalled.

The 2017 All-Stars and HBCUs from Texas HBCUs are listed alphabetically by last name below.

Bryant, Ervin: Prairie View A&M University, Prairie View, Texas
Dorsey, Monica: Texas College, Tyler, Texas
Hill, Ta'Mara: Wiley College, Marshall, Texas
Kanu, Samuel: Texas Southern University, Houston, Texas
Lofton, Geremiah: Huston-Tillotson University, Austin, Texas
Williams-Toomer, Passion: St. Philip's College, San Antonio, Texas

Read the online version of the White House press release that includes both SPC and Passion Williams-Toomer (The White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities’ 2017 HBCU All-Stars) at https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/09/23/white-house-initiative-historically-black-colleges-and-universities-2017. For details on applying for the 2018 HBCU All-Stars program at St. Philip's College, contact Dr. Angela McPherson Williams, the college’s director of student success, at 210-486-2090, awilliams284@alamo.edu.

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