Oakwood University Crowned the 35th Honda Campus All-Star Challenge National Champion

April 13, 2024 — TORRANCE, Calif

Following a commanding final game series, Oakwood University secured top honors and a $100,000 institutional grant from Honda at the 35th 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 and their coaches participated in this year’s HCASC National Championship Tournament. Beyond the competition, the HCASC program included student networking opportunities and activities with HBCU presidents and representatives. Honda provided more than $500,000 in institutional grants to the participating HBCUs.

“Congratulations to the scholars from Oakwood University on their dynamic performance and national championship win at the 2024 Honda Campus All-Star Challenge,” said Yvette Hunsicker, vice president of Corporate Social Responsibility and Inclusion & Diversity at American Honda Motor Co., Inc. “On behalf of Honda, we applaud all the 35th anniversary HCASC participants on their exemplary display of HBCU excellence. We also thank all the volunteers and alumni who made this year’s program possible.”

Honda Campus All-Star Challenge is a year-round program that celebrates HBCU academic 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. Sixty-four teams competed in a series of national qualifying tournaments earlier this year and were narrowed down to field of 32 teams that participated in the HCASC National Championship Tournament. Based on the program’s emphasis on making “Friends for Life,” participating students share in the opportunity to build camaraderie with their peers from other HBCUs and gain mentorship opportunities with HCASC alumni and Honda associates.

The 2024 HCASC theme, “Live Your Dream,” aims to inspire students to embrace their dreams and manifest the success and achievements they envision for themselves.

HCASC 2024 team members celebrating a win

Oakwood University Earns 2024 HCASC National Championship Title

In a two-game sweep during the 35th HCASC National Championship final match, the scholars from Oakwood University defeated the Howard University team by accurately answering questions about history, science, literature, religion, the arts, and pop culture. Oakwood bested teams from 31 HBCUs and qualified for the National Championship Tournament after winning a series of regional competitions throughout the academic year.

The winning team was coached by Dr. Steven Lai Hing and includes team captain Jonathan Gunthrope, a senior majoring in Finance from Westchester, N.Y.; Hannah Browning, a senior majoring in Film & Television Production from Powder Springs, Ga.; Janiah Hinds, a sophomore majoring in History from Memphis, Tenn.; and Grayson Mejia, a senior majoring in Applied Mathematics from Henrico, Va. This year marks Oakwood University’s 28th appearance in a Honda Campus All-Star Challenge national championship tournament and its fourth win.

“Winning HCASC in one word? Unbelievable,” said Mejia. “This is my fourth year competing, and I just really can’t believe it happened.”

“I want to thank our players for their work ethic, drive, and sportsmanship. They were champions to me before the trophy. This win just confirms for everyone else what I already knew,” added Dr. Lai Hing.

Runner-up Howard University received a grant from Honda, as did the third and fourth place finishers–Spelman College and Morehouse College, respectively. Albany State University, Hampton University, Lincoln University-Pennsylvania and Tennessee State University rounded out the “Great 8” teams that competed in the HCASC Finals. In all, Honda will distribute more than $500,000 in institutional grants to the 32 participating schools.

HCASC 2024 winner Oakwood University and runner-up Howard University

Celebrating Individual Contributions

For 35 years, dedicated coaches, volunteers and program alumni have helped to make the Honda Campus All-Star Challenge a success. This year’s HCASC competitors selected Lauren Nicole Johnson of North Carolina Central 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.

Clayton Mack of North Carolina Central University was recognized as Coach of the Year. Investment and commitment of time and resources are important to building a successful HCASC program and team. Mack’s relationship with HCASC spans more than 30 years. He played for North Carolina Central’s team before returning as an assistant coach after graduation. His passion for developing students into top-tier players earned him the head coach title that he has held ever since. In addition to his own team, Mack has fostered relationships with other competitors, helping to raise the bar beyond the borders of North Carolina.

The HBCUs that qualified for the 2024 HCASC National Championship Tournament included:

Alabama A&M UniversityMorehouse College
Alabama State UniversityMorgan State University
Albany State UniversityNorfolk State University
Allen UniversityNorth Carolina A&T State University
Central State UniversityNorth Carolina Central University
Claflin UniversityOakwood University
Dillard UniversityPaul Quinn College
Edward Waters UniversityPrairie View A&M University
Fisk UniversityShaw University
Florida A&M UniversitySouthern University – Baton Rouge
Fort Valley State UniversitySpelman College
Hampton UniversityTennessee State University
Harris-Stowe State UniversityTuskegee University
Howard UniversityUniversity of Maryland Eastern Shore
Lincoln University-PennsylvaniaVirginia State University
Livingstone CollegeWinston-Salem State University

Honda continues to drive the legacy of HBCUs through programs like HCASC and Honda Battle of the Bands, the nation’s premier showcase for HBCU marching bands and dance teams, which is set to return in 2025. 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.

Honda and Historically Black Colleges and Universities

For 35 years, Honda has supported HBCUs, acknowledging their critical role in providing higher education and opportunities for advancement within the Black community. This support includes scholarships, programs, and initiatives that celebrate the dreams and potential of HBCU students, shaping them into future Black leaders. Honda has impacted the lives of more than 300,000 students and awarded over $14 million in grants in support of HBCU education programs and facility improvements.

To advance its leading investment in HBCUs, Honda is a member of the HBCU Partnership Challenge, a Congressional Bipartisan HBCU Caucus initiative that brings together government, industry and HBCUs to create strategic, more sustainable HBCU partnerships. Honda also has partnered with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund and UNCF to provide annual scholarship funding to support HBCU students pursuing an education in engineering, supply chain management and manufacturing-related fields.

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