8 Black Food Pros on How Their HBCU Prepped Them For Greatness

“Spelman created a supportive village in which I could thrive. Spelman also taught me perseverance and how to keep fighting no matter how difficult the challenge is. When I founded Theopolis Vineyards in 2003, I understand that I am one of the trailblazers when it comes to being an African American winemaker and I just hope that I can be an inspiration to others to follow their dreams. “

Courtesy Lila Owens

Purple Owens

Owner, Cupcakin ‘bakery, California
Howard University

“I developed my independence, my grind, my grit and my business acumen at Howard. The curriculum and support network are designed to provide black students with the knowledge, professional skills and tenacity to start, run and grow a business, even during a national economic crisis. I’ve learned to manage risk effectively, lead a diverse team, and serve as strategic capital to fuel the exponential growth of my business. I have been hugged by professors, colleagues, and an administration committed to preparing students like me to show themselves as true forces in life beyond college. Howard prepared me to succeed against all odds.

Photo courtesy of Best Kept Secrets Intl

Jeffery S. Smith, Jr.

The best kept secrets internationally, California
Jackson State University

“I am an influencer, moderator, food blogger and professional catering / cook. My food blog and my company Best Kept Secrets International focus on my food experiences around the globe as well as on my own kitchen. On the first day I entered campus, I learned the motto of my great alma mater: “Challenge the mind, change life” – and it has stayed with me ever since. Although I didn’t attend Jackson State University as a professional chef, the lessons I learned during my visit led me to always aim for greatness and not be afraid to start over. “

Adrian Miller is a James Beard Award-winning writer based in Denver, Colorado.

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