(Photo by Division of Communications and Marketing/HBCU Campaign Fund)

JACKSON, MS – Jackson State University appears to have come out on top after the recent Mississippi legislative session. The university scored $500,000 toward the preplanning for construction, furnishing, and equipping a new dinning facility. This is good news for JSU, whose Heritage Dinning Hall was built in 1977 and has seen little renovation or upgrades.

Other funding includes $1,175,025 toward campus construction, renovations, and repair. Another $506,111 went toward the Urban Research Center, which is an increase $55,152. JSU’s College of Health Sciences – A CEPH Accredited School of Public Health, will receive $1,500,000 for construction, furnishing, and relocation to the university’s main campus. Currently, the school is located in the Jackson Medical Mall on Woodrow Wilson St.

President Thomas K. Hudson offered special thanks to Mississippi legislators and state leaders for their investment in Jackson State.

“We appreciate the state’s contribution in helping maintain and improve JSU’s infrastructure. Our university is a community staple and economic driver for the city, county, and state,” he said. “Funding further allows us to make a significant impact on the people and communities we serve.”

Even more important, campus improvements, Hudson said, will enhance the quality of life for current students and entice potential students to enroll.

JSU’s Government Relations Directors Jacqueline Woods also extended gratitude to the Mississippi Legislature under the leadership of Philip Gunn, speaker of the House of Representatives, and Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann. She further ackowledged the Hinds County delegation and Hudson’s leadership.

“These appropriations will allow JSU to continue to provide amazing educational opportunities to our students,” said Woods. “I look forward to continuing to focus on our legislative agenda as we work to expand programs, build out campus and bring positive change to our communities.”

Most recently, news of the state allocating $250,000 for a stadium study created quite the buzz. Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium has been home to the Tigers since 1970. Still, talks of a new stadium have recently resurfaced with the state again making a good-fath effort in helping make it a reality.

Hudson explained that the stadium study will help determine the overall cost for a new on-campus multi-purpose facility with modern concessions and amenities.

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About Jackson State University
Jackson State University, an HBCU and comprehensive urban research university, is to provide quality teaching, research and service at the baccalaureate, masters, specialist, and doctoral levels to diverse populations of students and communities using various modalities to enure that they are technologically-advanced, ethical, global leaders who think critically and can address societal problems and complete effectively. For more information, visit www.jsums.edu.

TALLADEGA, AL – Acclaimed scholar Dr. Karla FC Halloway delivered a poetic and inspiring message at Talladega College’s 2021 Alpha Chi Society Initiation Ceremony and Honors Convocation. During this enlightening virtual event, she charged students to make themselves ready for the path that will emerge when the pandemic ends.

“As rooted as we might feel in this moment – bound to the pandemic – rootedness happens only because roots burrow and stretch. They slip downwards. They thicken. It may be chaotic burrowing, but it is insistent,” stated Dr. Holloway, who is a 1971 graduate of Talladega College. “Sometimes roots emerge as braided trunks on an ancient temple’s ruins or as tentacles strong enough to split a stone, but roots find ways and means, and they grow old even whole they sprout new growth.”

Dr. Karla FC Holloway

Dr. Holloway received a B.A. from Talladega College, and M.A. and Ph.D. from Michigan State University, and a Master of Laws from Duke University. She has taught at a number of higher education institutions, but completed her tenure in the academy at Duke University, where she served as chair of African and African American Studies and dean of the Humanities and Social Science faculty. She retired in 2016 as distinguished James B. Duke Professor Emerita of English, and Professor of Law. At Duke University, she served as chair of the University’s Appointments, Promotions and Tenure Committee and a member of the Institute on Care at the End of Life. She was the founding co-director at the John Hope Franklin Center and Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies of the Humanities.

Dr. Holloway has spoken internationally; won numerous awards and fellowships; and published eight academic books, two novels, and over 75 articles, essays, and public media presentations.

Her mother, father, and great-great grandfather were also graduates of Talladega College.

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About Talladega College
Talladega College, Alabama’s first private historically black college, is consistently ranked among the best southeastern colleges and top HBCUs in the nation. It was founded in 1867 by two former slaves, Williams Savery and Thomas Tarrant, and is the home of the renowned Hale Woodruff Amistad Murals. For more information, visit www.talladega.edu.

CHICAGO, IL – HBCU Campaign Fund’s (HCF) Founder, President & CEO, Demetrius Johnson Jr., will return to his alma mater to serve as a Student Recruitment Specialist in the good faith of assisting the team in increasing enrollment at the institution. His tenure began on April 16th. He is excited to provide his passionate and student-centered enthusiasm to the team. This will be in addition to Johnson continuing his duties as the Founder, President & CEO at the HBCU Campaign Fund where he has served for eight years. He does not accept a current salary for his position at HCF.

Demetrius Johnson Jr., Founder, President & CEO at HBCU Campaign Fund.

Johnson has a total of three years of higher education experience, most recently serving as a Financial Aid Counselor at Mississippi Valley State University. Prior to that, he served as Admissions Communications Specialist at Lincoln University of Missouri from 2017 until 2019. Since 2015, he has served as the Founder, President & CEO of the HBCU Campaign Fund, an advocacy non-profit educational organization that supports the significance and raises funds for scholarships and services at HBCUs and MSIs.

“It is such an honor to return back home to my alma mater to continue my service from once that I had provided as a student with this amazing opportunity. I look forward to working alongside those who align with the same vision in reaching the ultimate goal in making a better future for our Dear Mother as an HBCU,” said Johnson. “I care deeply about my alma mater, I BLEED black and gold, and those who know me personally know that I truly do. I am eager to accept this task and ambitiously willing to prepare students for success. Vice Chancellor Dr. Braque Talley has a vision and It’s UAPB to the TOP!”

Described as a highly visionary and passionate leader at heart, Johnson is a strong advocate for HBCUs. His vision for HCF is to lead the organization forward as an essential tool for supporting students and higher education. His ultimate goal is to ensure that HBCUs remain the relevant institutions that they were created to be, by us.

“I really enjoy working and servicing the students with the neccessary essentials that they’re needing to be successful in their collegiate studies. I am a strong believer of customer service and being user friendly, which is the key to a successful staff to student relationship. Also, it plays a huge part in retention,” Johnson added.

Johnson has received numerous awards and recognitions since his presidency at HCF. He was named among the 2016 HBCU Top 30, Under 30 by HBCU Buzz. Also, he served on a number of committees and groups.

Johnson earned his Bachelor’s of Science degree in Computer Science from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (2016). In 2016, he was selected to attend a four-week study abroad program at the University of Toulouse-Jean Jaures in Toulouse, France. He is currently working on his Master’s degree.

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About the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB)
The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff is a public comprehensive HBCU 1890 Land-Grant Institution. The University embraces its land-grant mission of providing cutting edge research, teaching, outreach, and service programs that respond to the social and economic needs of the state and region. Its mission is to promote and sustain excellent academic programs that integrate quality instruction, research, and student learning experiences responsive to the needs of a racially, culturally, and economically diverse student population. Ultimately, the University is dedicated to providing access and opportunity to academically deserving students and producing graduates who are equipped to excel through their contributions and leadership in a 21st century national and global community. For more information, visit www.uapb.edu.

About the HBCU Campaign Fund (HCF)
The HBCU Campaign Fund (HCF) is a nonprofit advocacy educational organization that is mission to support the significance and raises funds for scholarships, initiative programming, and for private and public HBCUs and MSIs. HCF remains today as a strong advocate for students and higher education. For more information, visit www.hbcucampaignfund.org.

BOWIE, MD – Voting rights champion, political leader and bestselling author Stacey Abrams will deliver the commencement address to the Spring 2021 graduating class at Bowie State University during a virtual commencement to be held on May 21, 2021 at 10 a.m. EDT.

Stacey Abrams

Stacey Abrams is an outspoken advocate in the fight to expand voting access and is the New York Times-bestselling author of “Our Time Is Now” and “Lead from the Outside.” She is widely credited with increasing voter turnout in Georgia in the 2020 presidential election, as well as in the state’s 2020-21 U.S. Senate election and special election. She was nominated for a 2021 Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts. She made history in 2019 as the first African-American woman to deliver a response to the State of the Union address.

She was the nation’s first African-American female major-party gubernatorial nominee when she ran as the Democratic candidate in the 2018 Georgia governor’s race, winning more votes, at the time, than any Democrat in state history. Before her gubernatorial run, she served as Democratic Leader of the Georgia House of Representatives for seven years.

Abrams has launched several organizations to address inequities in government. She started Fair Fight Action to ensure every American has a voice in our election system, Fair Count to ensure accuracy in the 2020 census and the Southern Economic Advancement Project, a public policy initiative to broaden economic power and build equity in the South.

Abrams hold a Juris Doctor degree from Yale Law School, a Master of Public Affairs degree from University of Texas at Austin and a bachelor’s degree from Spelman College.

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About Bowie State University
Bowie State University (BSU) is an important higher education access portal for qualified persons from diverse academic and socioeconomic backgrounds, seeking a high-quality and affordable public comprehensive university. The university places special emphasis on the science, technology, cybersecurity, teacher education, business, and nursing disciplines within the context of a liberal arts education. For more information about BSU, visit www.bowiestate.edu.

PINE BLUFF, AR – The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) was recently awarded financial support from the Association of Public Land-Grant Universities (APLU), to support participation in the largest-ever institutional collaborative effort to collect and share data geared at finding solutions for college access and help generate more graduates from underrepresented minority, low-income, and first generation backgrounds. Dr. Braque Talley, Vice Chancellor of Enrollment Management and Student Success at UAPB, has a passion for student success and retention and the grant will support his efforts to improve local and national education opportunities.

Dr. Braque Talley, Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management and Student Success at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.

“Getting students enrolled in college is no longer enough,said Dr. Talley. “We don’t just want students to attend UAPB. We want them to graduate from here as well. The success of our students is a priority for our Chancellor.”

Dr. Talley is using the funds to help review best practices that help with student successes and share the successful initiatives that impact institutional equity. As a participant, Dr. Talley will share his data with other public universities working together to increase college access, eliminate the achievement gap, and award hundreds of thousands more degrees by 2025.

“By collecting, reporting, and analyzing data from students of all backgrounds across the country, it will help to foster more informed decisions about how to improve opportunities and support the current gaps in student success,” said Dr. Talley.

“Dr. Talley’s dedication to student individual success is evident,” said George Cotton, Vice Chancellor for Institutional Advancement at UAPB. “Since day one, he has been driven to finding solutions to help student succeed, generate retention for the university, and help young people find their place in the world.” Even amid history’s worst pandemic, Dr. Talley was relentless in finding ways to stay engaged with local youth and help students find success. He and his team are credited for helping UAPB reach the largest enrollment increase in nearly a decade and increase the retention rate the one of the highest in the university’s history, according to reports.

“We are proud of our participation in this new initiative focused on data-driven research to determine solutions for student outcomes,” said Dr. Laurence B. Alexander, UAPB Chancellor. “UAPB is committed to being more student-focused and more responsive to change with the goal of increasing student success and the removal of impediments to student retention, progression, and timely graduation.”

Other institutions selected for the nationwide initiative are Clemson University; Illinois State University; Ohio University; Middle Tennessee State University; Montana State University; New Mexico State University; University of New Orleans; New Jersey Institute of Technology; Rutgers University-Newark; University of South Alabama; Texas Tech University; Tuskegee University; Virginia Commonwealth University; Western Michigan University; and University of Wyoming.

Dr. Talley proudly serves on the Board of Directors of the HBCU Campaign Fund.

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About the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff
The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff is a public comprehensive HBCU 1890 Land-Grant Institution. The University embraces its land-grant mission of providing cutting edge research, teaching, outreach, and service programs that respond to the social and economic needs of the state and region. Its mission is to promote and sustain excellent academic programs that integrate quality instruction, research, and student learning experiences responsive to the needs of a racially, culturally, and economically diverse student population. Ultimately, the University is dedicated to providing access and opportunity to academically deserving students and producing graduates who are equipped to excel through their contributions and leadership in a 21st century national and global community. For more information, visit www.uapb.edu.

George Ivory, dean of Southwestern Athletic Conference basketball coaches, a SWAC Hall of Famer, and former head men’s basketball coach at Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

PINE BLUFF, AR – George Ivory, the dean of Southwestern Athletic Conference basketball coaches and a SWAC Hall of Famer, has resigned as head men’s basketball coach at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff after 13 season, according to the University.

“It has been an honor and privilege to be the head coach at UAPB and to guide the young men who I was fortunate to coach,” said Ivory. “I will always have fond memories of nearly 20 years in this program, and am grateful for the opportunity to lead this program. I’ve been involved in this wonderful game for more than 30 years, and after a difficult COVID-challenging season, I am tired. It’s best for me to step away now and spend more time with my family.”

As SWAC Tournament Champions in 2010, Ivory led the Golden Lions to the NCAA Tournament and a First Four Win over Winthrop. The Golden Lions nearly returned to the Big Dance in 2018, falling to eventual champion Texas Southern in the SWAC Tournament final.

Ivory’s team posted significant non-conference wins over SMU, Florida International, Houston, and Arkansas State during his tenure. Buoyed by phenomenal home attendance, Ivory led the program to winning records at home 10 times, as the game atmosphere at the H.O. Clemmons Arena was voted the best in the SWAC.

“The name George Ivory is synonymous with Golden Lion men’s basketball,” said Chris Robinson, Interim Athletic Director at UAPB. “From four years as an assistant coach to 13 years as a head coach, his program provided many memorable moments and made the H.O. Clemmons Arena one of the toughest venues for opposing teams in the SWAC. We thank him for his tireless commitment and effort poured into the program, and look forward to his success in future endeavors.”

Ivory attended college at Mississippi Valley State University where he played basketball. He was selected as Freshman of the Year, First Team All-SWAC, SWAC Tournament MVP, and Player of the Year in the conference. Ivory started all four years at Valley, where he still ranked top in scoring, steals, assist, minutes, and games played.

Ivory later worked as a graduate assistant with the Lady Tigers basketball program at Jackson State University for three years before becoming full-time assistant in 1991-1998 under head coach Andrew Pennington. In spring of 2008, he was named the head coach of the Golden Lions at Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

UAPB will conduct a national search for a new head coach.

About the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff
The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff is a public comprehensive HBCU 1890 Land-Grant Institution. The University embraces its land-grant mission of providing cutting edge research, teaching, outreach, and service programs that respond to the social and economic needs of the state and region. Its mission is to promote and sustain excellent academic programs that integrate quality instruction, research, and student learning experiences responsive to the needs of a racially, culturally, and economically diverse student population. Ultimately, the University is dedicated to providing access and opportunity to academically deserving students and producing graduates who are equipped to excel through their contributions and leadership in a 21st century national and global community. For more information, visit www.uapb.edu.

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billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban. Cuban is owner of the Dallas Mavericks.

TALLADEGA, AL – Talladega College students, faculty, and staff participated in a virtual meeting with billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban on March 29, 2021. Mr. Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, is a media proprietor and the primary investor on the ABC reality television series Shark Tank.

Mr. Cuban talked about experiences that shaped his life and urged prospective entrepreneurs to select businesses that will “leverage your unique skill sets.” He also stated, “You’ve got to put in the effort. You’ve got to be able to prepare.”

During the presentation, Talladega College senior Kamari McHenry asked questions about Mr. Cuban’s successful business endeavors and the experiences that helped him to excel. After the event, Kamari stated, “I was happy to be a part of the virtual experience today with Mark Cuban. He gave our students and me some wonderful advice. He let me know the sky is the limit. I can do anything with hard work.”

Mass Media Studies Chair Dr. Luis Almeida, who arranged the event, stated, “Having Mark Cuban come into my classroom at Talladega was a wonderful opportunity for students. He helped them to understand the importance of entrepreneurship and realize that, after graduation, they can create their own jobs.”

During the presentation, Talladega College President Dr. Billy C. Hawkins stated that Mr. Cuban’s “passion, confidence, poise, and drive” are among the keys to his success. Dr. Hawkins also noted that similarities between Mr. Cuban’s story of starting out with little and building a fortune to the experiences he had when he became president of the college in 2008. There were barely over 300 students at the time. With hard work and perseverance, the college doubled enrollment from approximately 300 to 601 students in one semester and a major campus transformation began.

In January 2019, a 45,000-foot-square-of-the-art residence hall opened. In 2020, two additional facilities opened – the Dr. William R. Harvey Museum of Art, which houses the Amistad Murals, and the Dr. Billy C. Hawkins Student Activity Center. Enrollment recently rose to an all-time high of 1313 students, making the 2020-2021 academic year Talladega’s 3rd consecutive year for record enrollment increases. Talladega College is listed among the Princeton Review’s best colleges in the Southeast and ranked among the U.S. News and World Report’s best National Liberal Arts College, best Historically Black Colleges (HBCUs), and Top Performers on Social Mobility. The College recently launched its first-ever graduate program, an online Master of Science in Computer Information Systems.

About Talladega College
Talladega College, Alabama’s first private historically black college, is consistently, ranked among the best southeastern colleges and top HBCUs in the nation. It was founded in 1867 by two former slaves, Williams Savery and Thomas Tarrant, and is the home of the renowned Hale Woodruff Amistad Murals. For more information, visit www.talladega.edu.

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BOWIE, MD – A Bowie State University professor and counseling professional was named Counselor Educator of the Year by the Maryland School Counselor Association (MSCA) for her innovation and leadership in the profession. A recent Bowie State graduate was selected Maryland School Counseling Graduate Student of the Year.

Dr. Cynthia Taylor (’89), who teaches in the Department of Counseling, was one of 17 outstanding professional honored at the Maryland School Counselor Association’s first virtual gala on March 19. Having 15 years of experience in the profession, Dr. Taylor leads the school counseling master’s degree program. She won an outstanding service award in 2015.

“It is quite an honor to receive this recognition,” said Dr. Taylor during the virtual gala. “It’s very enlightening to be able to share concepts… that our students will need to be successful… The ultimate joy is when they are gainfully employed as a professional school counselor.”

James Harris (’20), a Charles County elementary school counselor and recent BSU graduate, was recognized as an excellent graduate student for his commitment to academic excellent and professional growth, while serving the academic and social-emotional needs to his students.

“It is an amazing honor to be able to receive this award,” said Harris at the virtual gala. “I want to thank my teachers who continued to push me.”

MSCA President-elect Nikki Ham, who is also Bowie State’s associate director of clinical counseling and field experiences, expressed her excitement that the evaluators representing parents, school administrators, counselors and teachers selected two BUS-affiliated counselors for top honors.

“I was extremely proud, as a graduate and staff members of Bowie State University, when the independent evaluators submitted her names of the honorees for this award,” said Ham.

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About Bowie State University
Bowie State University (BSU) is an important higher education access portal for qualified persons from diverse academic and socioeconomic backgrounds, seeking a high-quality and affordable public comprehensive university. The university places special emphasis on the science, technology, cybersecurity, teacher education, business, and nursing disciplines within the context of a liberal arts education. For more information about BSU, visit www.bowiestate.edu.

Dr. Kristie L. Kenney, Vice President for Institutional Advancement at Talladega College.

TALLADEGA, AL – Dr. Kristie L. Kenney, Talladega College’s vice president for institutional advancement, has been selected to participate in the Millennium Leadership Initiative (MLI). A new class of 32 exemplary, senior-level higher education professionals will participate in the 2021 MLI, a premier leadership development program of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU).

“I commend Dr. Kenney for being one of 32 higher education professionals in the nation selected to participate in the 2021 Millennium Leadership Initiative,” said Dr. Billy C. Hawkins, president of Talladega College, who was a member of the 2000 Millennium Leadership Initiative. “Having completed the MLI, I understand and appreciate the value and lasting impact that this program can have on a participant’s life.”

MLI provides individuals traditionally underrepresented in the highest ranks of postsecondary education with the opportunity to develop skills, gain a philosophical overview, and build the network and knowledge needed to advance to the presidency.

Since MLI’s inception 22 years ago, 662 protégés have graduated from the program. One-fifth of MLI graduates have become a president or chancellor, and more than one-third have advanced significantly to other leadership positions within higher education, including at the state level.

In 2020, AASCU restructured MLI in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2021 institution will also feature virtual programming – four meetings a month from March 17 to May 26. Additionally, it includes a tentative, in-person meeting in the fall. Protégés will also have a yearlong mentorship with an experienced president or chancellor and four months of professional coaching from a retired president or chancellor.

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About Talladega College
Talladega College, Alabama’s first private historically black college, is consistently ranked among the best southeastern colleges and top HBCUs in the nation. It was founded in 1867 by two former slaves, Williams Savery and Thomas Tarrant, and is the home of the renowned Hale Woodruff Amistad Murals. For more information, visit www.talladega.edu.

About AASCU
The American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) is a Washington, D.C.-based higher education association of nearly 400 public colleges, universities, and systems whose members share a learning and teaching-centered culture, a historic commitment to underserved student populations, and a dedication to research and creativity that advances their regions’ economic progress and cultural development. Theses are institutions Delivering America’s Promise. For more information, visit www.aascu.org.

Dr. Alvin Smith

TALLADEGA, AL – Talladega College graduate Dr. Alvin Smith, manager of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (NASA JPL) Planetary Protection Center of Excellence and Backward Planetary Protection Lead for Mars Sample Return, credits Talladega for providing the foundation that helped him excel in science.

“Talladega College really shaped my first understanding of the scientist, individually and collectively, that I wanted to become. The sense of family and community fostered a sense of belonging you rarely find these days, rooted in historical black excellence,” said Dr. Smith. “It was this TC community that made the first investment, through scholarships and didactic scientific education, that truly launched my ambitions to the stars.”

Dr. Smith provides program management and scientific oversight to several research & development projects, training programs, university outreach, and interagency collaborations at NASA JPL at the California Institute of Technology. The JPL Planetary Portection Center of Excellence promotes and sustains the infrastructure of planetary protection at JPL while supporting NASA missions. JPL fosters a culture of intra and inter collaboration to meet evolving mission requirements. The Planetary Protection Center of Excellence ensures that its scientists and engineers are equipped with state-of-the-art technology, remain effectively trained, lead mission-related Research & Technology Development projects, and leverage leading government and industry advancements, so that they can better fulfill multi-mission needs. Dr. Smith joined JPL after spending over 16 years in consulting as a biodefense subject matter expert (SME) and researcher in high containment labs.

These experiences highlight his understanding of what it takes to conduct challenging biological studies, implement and lead successful scientific projects, and build lasting partnerships. His scientific contributions in immunology, infectious diseases, and animal models have aided the federal government in developing medical countermeasures and biodetection capabilities for human smallpox, Ebola, and other potential biological weapons. He is a past recipient of numerous awards and honors, including JPL’s Voyager Award, the Noblis Technology Leadership Award, and the IGCC (Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation) Public Policy and Biological Threats Fellowship Award.

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About Talladega College
Talladega College, Alabama’s first private historically black college, is consistently ranked among the best southeastern colleges and top HBCUs in the nation. It was founded in 1867 by two former slaves, William Savery and Thomas Tarrant, and is home of the renowned Hall Woodruff Amistad Murals. For more information, visit www.talladega.edu.