A Winston-Salem State University senior is in the inaugural class of the HBCU All Stars, a program of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
Florida native Georges Guillaume, a chemistry major who aspires to be a physician and researcher, was selected for his achievements in academics, leadership and civic engagement, according to a news release put out by the White House Initiative on HBCUs.
Guillaume is a Chancellor’s Scholar – WSSU’s most prestigious scholarship program – and has honed his skills in research programs at Harvard and Yale medical schools and as an intern at Columbia University Medical Center. He has also served as a tutor, Intensive Care Unit liaison and community volunteer.
“It was a good feeling,” he said of being among the 75 students from across the nation selected for the program. “It didn’t really hit me until the next day that I’d been selected and how much this means to myself and my family and my school … I enjoy being an example and showing what is possible, and that’s what the mission (of HBCU All Stars) is all about.”
Shakera Fudge and Leon White of N.C. A&T State University and Jasmine Everett of Bennettt College were the only other Triad students picked.
Dr. Soncerey Montgomery, director of Honors Programs at WSSU, said she was pleased to learn of Guillaume’s latest achievement, but not surprised.
“Georges is just one of those scholars who you expect to excel and you know he’s going to be successful, professionally, in his educational endeavors and anything he does,” Montgomery declared. “… He excels in all he does, and he does things in a spirit of excellence.”
The All Stars will serve as ambassadors of the virtues of an HBCU education as they exemplify the leadership and community mindedness that are hallmarks of institutions they represent. They will be featured on the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities Web site and participate in quarterly Web chats with Ivory Toldson, deputy director of the Initiative, and other professionals and take advantage of opportunities to network with other All Stars and participate in regional events.
“Engaging with the next generation of leaders who will graduate from HBCUs and go on to make meaningful contributions to society is crucial to the success of our community, our country and our global competitiveness,” said George Cooper, executive director of the Initiative.
As an All Star, Guillaume hopes to launch a collaborative program that uses components such as mentoring and tutoring to strengthen ties between the university and local schools. Montgomery said Guillaume’s selection shines a positive light on the university.
“It says that we provide quality education for our students and we really take time to nurture them to be leaders and groom them to be All Stars,” she said. “He’s definitely one of our top-notch students and we’re proud of him.”
Before coming to WSSU, Guillaume says his knowledge of the HBCU legacy was minimal, at best.
“I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the environment and the culture; it definitely is a family environment,” related the 22-year-old. “…As a student at an HBCU, I was put under the wings of many successful doctors and professors, and I don’t think that is so easily accessible at mainstream universities.”
As the son of parents who emigrated from Haiti to the U.S. to give their children a better life and sound education, Guillaume says academics have always been a priority for him and his family. But the talented artist and basketball player didn’t decide to pursue a career in medicine until late in his high school career.
“My senior year is when the earthquake happened in Haiti, so that sort of solidified my interest in medicine, because with the earthquake, there was such a need for doctors.”
“I saw that there was an extreme need, and that primarily is how you help people … I thought that it was the most basic level of how you can help and serve.”
Guillaume says he plans to use the knowledge he gains as an undergraduate and in medical school to give back to his community, and the world.
“One of the things that I do want to do is open a medical school in Haiti,” said Guillaume, who hopes to spend a year in a service oriented internship in the island nation prior to enrolling in medical school. “I also want to create new or free health clinics in Haiti, but also in Little Haiti in Miami, as well, in underserved communities.”
Wherever he decides to chase his dreams, Montgomery believes Guillaume will go far.
“Georges is really goal oriented and results driven. He takes incentive. He likes to see things happen and he makes them happen. He’s very persistent and has a strong work ethic, too,” she noted. “Georges is serious about making a difference in the world. I just applaud him for having the courage to venture out, and he really wants to use his talents for the greater good.”
Guillaume credits the university with helping him reach his full potential as an undergrad.
“I really do appreciate these opportunities I’ve had coming from Winston-Salem State,” he declared. “In many ways, it’s been a second home to me. The faculty, professors and students are one of a kind.”