Stillman College Wins 34th Honda Campus All-Star Challenge

Stillman College earned top honors and a $75,000 institutional grant from Honda at the 34th Honda Campus All-Star Challenge (HCASC), America’s premier academic competition for students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Hosted on the American Honda corporate campus in Torrance, Calif., more than 200 HBCU students, along with their coaches, participated in this year’s HCASC National Championship Tournament, which returned to an in-person format for the first time in four years. Beyond the competition, the HCASC program included student networking opportunities and activities with HBCU presidents and representatives. Honda provided more than $400,000 in institutional grants to the participating HBCUs.

“Congratulations to the scholars from Stillman College who committed themselves to excelling in this competition and secured the 2023 Honda Campus All-Star Challenge championship title,” said Yvette Hunsicker, vice president of Corporate Social Responsibility and Inclusion & Diversity at American Honda Motor Co., Inc. “HCASC provides HBCU students a platform to pursue their passion for learning and love of knowledge while building leadership skills, long-lasting friendships and so much more. We appreciate the tremendous dedication and academic talent shown by all of the students who participated in this year’s program.”

Honda Campus All-Star Challenge is a year-round program that celebrates Black excellence and challenges students to expand their scope of knowledge on a wide range of topics, with the opportunity to gain lifelong learning skills, including leadership, collaboration, and sportsmanship. Based on the theme “Friends for Life,” participating students have the opportunity to build camaraderie with students from other HBCUs and gain mentorship opportunities with HCASC alumni and Honda associates.

Stillman College Wins HCASC National Championship

In an exciting best two out of three games during the HCASC National Championship match, the scholars from Stillman College defeated the Tuskegee University team by accurately answering questions about history, science, literature, religion, the arts and pop culture. Stillman College bested teams from 64 HBCUs and qualified for the National Championship Tournament after winning a series of regional competitions throughout the academic year.

This is the 34th year Stillman College has participated in the Honda Campus All-Star Challenge and the first year it has won the HCASC National Championship. The winning team was coached by Dr. Thomas Steven Jennings and includes team captain Carla A. Louca, a senior majoring in religion from Tuscaloosa, Ala., Susannah Britain LeMay, a junior majoring in journalism from Fredericksburg, Va., Jaela Williams, a junior majoring in criminal justice from Huntsville, Ala., and Zharia Nubia Lankford, a senior majoring in journalism from Douglasville, Ga.

“The big lesson that I’ve taken away from HCASC is humility,” said Carla A. Louca. “At our National Qualifying Tournament, we were undefeated. When we lost a round at one of our Round Robin games, we had to take a step back and think about what that means and the reason we are here. We are here to make friends and build relationships – all of which we have done through HCASC.”

Dr. Cynthia Warrick, Stillman president, added, “I’m so proud that we will bring back the HCASC National Championship title and demonstrate that we create an environment at Stillman to produce this winning talent.”

Runner-up Tuskegee University was awarded a $30,000 grant, while the third and fourth place finishers – Winston-Salem State University and Oakwood University, respectively – each received a $20,000 grant. University of the District of Columbia, Southern University and A&M College, Spelman College and Tennessee State University rounded out the “Great 8” teams that competed in the HCASC Finals.

As a bonus for this year’s tournament, Honda awarded an additional $1,000 in institutional grants to schools that earned perfect scores in the last round, named the Ultimate Challenge. During this rapid-fire round, teams have 60 seconds to answer 10 questions. The teams from Oakwood University and Stillman College had two perfect Ultimate Challenge rounds while Winston-Salem State University had one perfect Ultimate Challenge round.  

This year’s HCASC theme, “Driving the Legacy,” celebrates the rich history and unique experience of HBCUs and aims to inspire students to create the life they envision for themselves. Since the program was established in 1989, HCASC has enriched the lives of 250,000 students and Honda has awarded $11 million in institutional grants to participating HBCUs.

Honoring Individual Contributions

Every year, dedicated coaches, volunteers and program alumni help to make the Honda Campus All-Star Challenge a success. Fellow HCASC competitors selected Annijah J. Simpson of Bowie State University to receive this year’s Ernest C. Jones Sportsperson Award, which recognizes a student who epitomizes team spirit, camaraderie, good sportsmanship and academic focus during the National Championship Tournament. The award is named for one of HCASC’s early volunteers who mentored many HBCU students.

Dr. Worth Hayes, Tuskegee University’s HCASC team coach, was recognized as Coach of the Year. Investment and commitment of time and resources are important to building a successful HCASC program and team. Dr. Hayes achieves this by allowing his team members to express their ideas while guiding them to represent the excellence of their institution. Dr. Hayes serves as an Associate Professor of History and Director of Academic and Learning Outcomes, at Tuskegee University.

The HBCUs that qualified for the 2023 HCASC National Championship Tournament included Alabama A&M University, Alabama State University, Albany State University, Benedict College, Bowie State University, Central State University, Cheyney University-Pennsylvania, Claflin University, Elizabeth City State University, Florida A&M University, Hampton University, Howard University, Kentucky State University, Langston University, Lincoln University-Pennsylvania, Morehouse College, Morgan State University, Norfolk State University, North Carolina A&T State University, North Carolina Central University, Oakwood University, Prairie View A&M University, Shaw University, Southern University-Baton Rouge, Spelman College, Stillman College, Tennessee State University, Tuskegee University, University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff, University-District of Columbia, Virginia State University, and Winston-Salem State University.

Honda continues to drive the legacy of HBCUs through programs like HCASC and Honda Battle of the Bands (HBOB), the nation’s premiere showcase for HBCU marching bands and dance teams, which returned to live format in February and was held for the first time on an HBCU campus at Alabama State University. Honda also has partnered with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund and UNCF to provide scholarship funding to support HBCU students pursuing an education in engineering, supply chain management, and manufacturing-related fields.

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