43 students fly to HBCUs with Alaska Airlines, taking “Our Commitment” to new heights with UNCF

Photos by Joe Nicholson and Alyssa Pointer

Two years after unveiling Our Commitment aircraft, which supports equity and education and features 14 children, grandchildren and mentees of Alaska Airlines’ employees, we boarded 43 high school juniors from Seattle and Portland school districts onto the special plane to tour five historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in Atlanta.

Video by Converge Media

In collaboration with UNCF – an Alaska partner for more than 17 years – students from the Pacific Northwest spent the week learning about the history and significance of HBCUs and how these institutions provide a unique college experience for Black students that enables them to thrive. The students spoke to campus leaders, administrators and current college students and soaked up information about applying for admission and scholarships.

But don’t take our word for it, hear from some of the students about what this trip meant for them:

This trip was an eye opener. Just seeing so many Black people or people who looked like me made me feel welcomed. It also reminded me to step up my game when it comes to academics.

– Janya

Living in the Northwest, we don’t have any HBCUs. Traveling to a city with multiple HBCUs really helped me get a grasp on what the college experience is like. A moment that stood out was going to lunch at the Morehouse cafeteria because you get to see the students in their natural habitat and see what real college life is like.

– Joshua

This trip gave me an opportunity to explore and see what I am actually looking for and to see what my ‘yeahs’ and ‘nos’ are in a future college I want to attend. A moment that really stood out to me was the panel with Spelman students. One sister said, ‘you come in as a girl and leave as a woman.’ That stood out to me because I want to go to a school that helps me grow and succeed in life and come out a better person than when I went in.

– Cymone

I learned to keep going. I learned to set goals. I learned that whatever I put my mind to, I can accomplish. Even though I already had that mindset, hearing others’ stories and the history of the schools inspired me. This trip gave me the opportunity to step into my future a little bit.

– Nyilah

I’m looking most forward to seeing the acceptances I get. A lot of the schools were very welcoming and encouraging to apply, and I really want to see how many of those schools I can get into.

– Brooklyn

It meant so much I can’t even explain fully. It really made me focus on what I need out of a college, and I was able to find out what I could be flexible not having.

– Marian

To me this trip meant an opportunity to explore and understand HBCUs, which not a lot of people get to experience coming from the Northwest. It meant getting a head start preparing for college and life after high school. It meant gaining new knowledge so that I can bring it back to my Black peers at school.

– Amariyanna

Man, this trip meant everything and more to me. I’m so grateful to able to be on this trip. I loved being around people who welcomed me like I was a part of their family. I will most definitely be attending an HBCU!

– Azariyah

Support UNCF

Inspired by these students? Mileage Plan members can donate miles to important causes including UNCF, which uses the miles to fly students back and forth to HBCUs.

Learn more about UNCF.