Seventeen-year-old Kori Richmond-Sattiewhite, a senior at Flint's Southwestern Classical Academy was accepted to Central State University in Ohio and Xavier University in Louisiana. She's attended virtual tours of both universities this month in a series of tours of historically black colleges put on by Southwestern in partnership with the universities (Courtesy of Kori Richmond-Sattiewhite)

Flint, MI— Like most high school seniors, 17-year-old Kori Richmond-Sattiewhite, a student at Southwestern Classical Academy, faces a life-altering decision: where she will attend college. 

But unlike those before her, she will graduate during a global pandemic, and without traditional campus tours, knowing which school is right for her becomes more difficult. 

However, in celebration of Black History Month, Flint Community Schools has partnered with four historically Black colleges to offer students virtual tours and informational sessions.

The colleges include Central State University in Ohio, Clark Atlanta University in Georgia, Xavier University in Louisiana and Howard University in Washington, D.C. 

Richmond-Sattiewhite was accepted to both Central State and Xavier University. The tours helped her answer important questions, she said. 

Community School Director for Southwestern Mohammed Aboutawila said during a “normal” year, he would take students to participate in college visits. But because of COVID, the district has opted for virtual tours. 

“Since the beginning of [the] school year, we were able to partner with several universities, who were able to share this experience virtually. And what’s special about this month is Black History Month,” Aboutawila. “We thought, well, let’s make our reach just a little bit more [to] impact students. Number one, so they become aware of Black excellence, Black culture, and looking at it in the institution sense of being a part of HBCU family.” 

During the tours, students watch videos of the campus, dorms and classrooms. There is also a live information session where students can ask about scholarships, financial aid and any other questions they may have. 

“I really enjoyed the virtual tours because I can’t go to these places at the moment because of [COVID-19]. So, I learned about cost and the room and board. And they talked about dorms and financial aid, and letting me know about scholarships, and how they can help me if I need anything,” Richmond-Sattiewhite said. 

Her goal is to pursue pre-med and become an anesthesiologist to help others so they “don’t have to be in pain when they’re in surgery.”

The college tours are open to all students at Southwestern, so they can begin exploring their options early on. Each session has been well-attended, averaging between 17-20 students, Aboutawila said. 

Despite graduating amid a pandemic, Richmond-Sattiewhite said she’s hopeful.

“I’m ready to leave. But it’s a pandemic, so I don’t know how I’m going to adapt. But, I’m a flexible person, so I should be okay.” 

Carmen Nesbitt is a journalist with diverse experience in news reporting and feature writing. She wrote for Hour Detroit and SEEN Magazine before joining the Flint Beat news team as an education and public...