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Why I Chose My HBCUs: Bennett College and North Carolina A&T State University

aariella houston bennett college

Student Name: Aariella K. Houston

Hometown: Southern California

HBCU: Bennett College for Women and North Carolina A&T State University

Major: Dual degrees in Chemistry and Chemical Engineering. After my two graduations, I plan to open STEM centers in marginalized communities to help create a better atmosphere for young black men and women to excel in STEM-related studies in hopes of increasing our representation in the STEM field.

Extracurriculars: At Bennett, I became a proud member of The Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. I served as the president of the Zeta Xi Chapter from 2019-2020 and will forever love my sorority. I have also served as the president of the Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society and the treasurer of the Chemistry Club.


aariella houston bennett college apparel

Aariella Houston at the ZAGE pop-up shop

What influenced you to attend an HBCU, and why did you end up picking your specific school?

I wanted to attend an HBCU because I knew that I would have opportunities within an HBCU campus that I would never have any place else.

I specifically chose Bennett College because I was offered a full ride and because of the opportunity to participate in the dual degree program they have with North Carolina A&T State University. When I got the opportunity to pursue two degrees for the price of one, it was simply something I could not pass up.

Was it important that you chose an HBCU, and why or why not?

Choosing an HBCU, or two for that matter, was by far one of the best things I have ever done.

Every day I witness the greatness of Black men and women that come from Bennett and NCAT.

It is remarkable, to say the least, to be apart of a community that gives you every resource and every necessary tool to achieve greatness inside and outside of the classroom.

What aspects of academics, culture, social life, extracurriculars, etc. do you think it offers that other schools don’t?

Honestly, my HBCUs believed in me more than any other college did.

I was only offered full rides to HBCUs, which basically told me, “Go to a school that will invest in you.”  That is something I would have never gotten at a PWI (predominately white institution).

What’s one memory you’ve made or positive experience you’ve had so far at school?

In the past four years, I have done some pretty amazing things that Bennett prepared me for, but my favorite one is winning a $10,000 grant from Victoria’s Secret PINK through the entrepreneurship initiative, GRL PWR Project.

My business at the time serviced the women of Bennett College with comfortable and inclusive college apparel. I would have never gotten it if Bennett didn’t stick by me while I designed and sold the college’s apparel.

The most memorable experience I have had at school was participating in our first-ever pop-up shop in October 2019.

I was the featured designer and sold over 200 of my custom-designed and hand-printed apparel pieces from my shop @zage.apparel.

It was amazing and something I will never forget!

What is one thing you didn’t know about your school or college, in general, that you know now?

The Bennett Belles participated and helped organize the Greensboro Sit-ins. Us Belles have always been history makers.


Connect with Aariella on Instagram @aariellakaitlyn and @zage.apparel.

Want to learn more about Bennett College, North Carolina A&T State University and other HBCUs? Start here. 

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