DALLAS — You can do everything right and still be denied acceptance into your dream school. Rejection can feel like a punch to the face. For some students wanting to continue their education, a high-ranking GPA and standout resume are not enough.
Alina Connie finds power behind her paintbrushes.
“It’s what keeps me creative. It’s what keeps me innovative,” says Connie.
When she is done with a piece, there is always a meaningful and progressive message behind the artwork.
“I’d say I have an obvious theme which is body positivity, women empowerment and definitely the uplifting of Black women,” Connie confirmed.
Connie thinks everyone needs to have the room and skill to express themselves thoroughly. That’s why her dream is to become an English professor. In her eyes, people are being conditioned to cut conversations and thoughts to 250 characters or less because of social media.
“I think that’s training people to shrink themselves and shrink their ideas into small segments. Even in the classroom with a lot of my peers, they don’t like writing essays,” she explained.
On paper, Connie is closer to reaching a career as an educator. She just finished her undergraduate degree in mass communications at Paul Quinn, a historically Black college in Dallas. It's a school she says she chose for the cultural support and it was financially better for her pockets. It takes most people four years for a bachelor's, however, Connie did it in three. Regardless, she’s not sure what steps are next for her dream to come true, even with a super solid 3.9 GPA she's proud of.
Three minutes after Connie sent her grad school application, which included the GPA, a resume and writing samples to Texas Woman’s University, she was denied. She says she learned admission officials for TWU were questioning the quality of education at Paul Quinn.
“They never read my personal statement, they never read my recommendation letters," she said.
Needing answers after the quick denial for grad school, Connie says she reached out to her alma mater about the college’s accreditation.
“Paul Quinn was as surprised as I was,” she added.
Michael Sorrell is the president of Paul Quinn. He says despite the college having national accreditation and a track record of sending students to Ivy League and other elite schools, Connie is not the first student coming from an HBCU who has had to deal with this.
“We have sent students to Pepperdine. We’ve sent students to Penn. We’ve sent people to George Washington and the University of Chicago,” said President Sorrell.
Sorrell said other colleges and universities will get stamped by regional organizations for accreditation in addition to national. Paul Quinn just does the national.
The U.S. Department of Education views national and regional accreditation equally. It’s a conversation he volunteered to have with TWU officials after learning about Connie’s situation.
“Whenever we’re made aware of the situation, we remedy it,” said Sorrell, regarding the instant denial.
A statement from Holly Hansen-Thomas, who is vice provost and dean of the graduate school reads: "Texas Woman’s graduate admissions policy allows the university flexibility to evaluate applicants holistically in a way that benefits TWU and is aligned with our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. Generally speaking, if a prospective graduate student holds an undergraduate degree from an institution that is not regionally accredited, it is in the normal course of business for Texas Woman’s to determine whether the institution offers a credential equivalent to that of a regionally accredited institution.”
After Sorrell talked with TWU officials, Connie was sent an email saying they will consider her application. While it looks like she does have a bright future ahead, others in similar situations may still be in the dark if they don’t speak up.