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LACES Alum Leads Black College Success

Haile speaks at the 2023 Black College Success Kickoff Event.

Delina Haile (LACES CO ‘22) had a prolific career in civic engagement at LACES, from founding the LACES “R U in STEM” club for underrepresented minorities in science to participating in the LA Promise Fund’s Black College Success (BCS) Program. Now pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Global Health at the University of Southern California, Haile continues to work in advocacy relating community outreach to her passion for science.

Jasmine Evans is BCS’s College Access Manager and the primary point of contact between BCS and LACES. She works with Black Los Angeles high school students — including Haile — to prepare them for college. This includes workshopping applications, pursuing financial aid, and supporting students after they enroll at a four-year university. Evans reflected upon her mentorship of Haile with warmth.

“I like Delina because I always know she’ll be down to do something,” said Evans. “She’s very well-spoken and extroverted, so she’s never shy to talk about her experiences.”

Haile continues to collaborate with BCS as a college freshman. Upon participating in the inaugural BCS STEAM program at USC in the summer of 2023, she became a BCS STEAM mentor and ambassador. She supports the administration of the STEAM program and helps brainstorm new ideas.

As the BCS STEAM coordinator, Roc’kale Bowman oversees the rigor of the curriculum and recruits new students for the program. She saw value in Delina’s STEAM alumni status and as a current student at USC, a partner of BCS.

“She has such great ideas,” Bowman said.  “She actually came up with an Instagram campaign called Mentor Mondays, where our BCS fellows would post on our BCS Instagram once a month to show what it’s like to be a college student for our students who follow us on our Instagram.”

Bowman attested to Haile’s positive contributions in spreading the word about the program to prospective students.

“She recently participated in our Family Night, where she shared her experience as a student participating in STEAM,” Bowman said. “The parents were inspired by what she had to say. They felt more comfortable sending their child to our program as well.”

For Haile, a significant appeal of working and leading in BCS is connecting participants to communities.

“I really want to help people feel like they have a community rather than going to a college and they’re by themselves,” Haile said. “As a peer mentor, I want to support more people and help people see there’s always somewhere out there to connect with.”

Haile most recently spoke at the 2023 BCS Kick-Off Event, showcasing a presentation titled “Black Minds, Brilliant Futures: Empowerment Through Academic Opportunity.” She focused on her personal experiences, noting she almost withdrew her application to USC in 2023 for fear of rejection.

“Thankfully, I didn’t,” she said with a solemn expression. “Because then, I wouldn’t be where I am and experiencing everything that I am today.”

“Stepping out of your comfort zone is essential and learning to make decisions for yourself,” she also recalled emphasizing in the presentation. “And I emphasized that everybody present at the speech had immense potential, and they just had to take the first step because no one else is going to take the first step for you.”

Haile reflected that it was a surreal experience to be speaking at the podium as a presenter.

“I saw my brother in the crowd and a lot of people from LACES, so it was kind of crazy to be in that position,” said Haile. “The year prior to that, I was in those seats, watching somebody else up there talking. And I truly didn’t know what to expect from the next year to come, but it wasn’t me to be on the stage.”

Evans agreed about the significance of Haile’s latest involvement with the BCS Program, both for Haile herself and the BCS community.  

“When we invited her to her BCS kick-off event, I was so excited she was there,” said Evans. “She was excited to be there, too — meeting the students and inspiring them. So I was happy to see the progress she made from when I first met her to now being a freshman at USC, very competent at what she’s doing.”

Haile had one piece of advice for LACES students pursuing higher education after graduation.

“Take advantage of all the opportunities that are given to you because they truly are resources that can and should be utilized,” said Haile. “Take advantage of the support system at LACES currently and if you’re also a part of BCS, you’d have the BCS scholars.”

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Taizo Nakayama
Taizo Nakayama, Deputy Online Manager | Entertainment Editor
Taizo Nakayama is a senior with a passion for astrobiology, a field where people look for little green people in space. He enjoys critiquing sci-fi films in lengthy blog posts and writing flash fiction; the lack of required commitment to worldbuilding appeals to him.  
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