April 4, 2009

09CN: Oakwood U. Repeats as Honda Campus All-Star Champions

Oakwood U. Repeats as Honda
All-Star Champions

While keeping the Sabbath, Oakwood team again wins academic competition

capSabbathkeeping, academic rigor, and achievement are not incompatible, a team of students from Oakwood University, an institution of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, discovered in late March.

While college basketball teams were competing for March Madness bragging rights, other highly gifted student were doing the same–just not on the basketball court. For the second year in a row Oakwood University emerged victorious as the 2009 National Champions of the Honda Campus All-Star Challenge, winning $50,000 in grant money for the school.

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For the second year in a row the Oakwood University team took home the national championship. [Photo: Business Wire]

More than 320 college students from 64 of the nation’s leading Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) gathered March 26-30 in Orlando, Florida to participate in the Honda Campus All-Star Challenge, a three-day academic competition that tests knowledge, teamwork, and speed.

The Oakwood University team showcased its skills and intellect by quickly and accurately answering questions on world history, science, literature, religion, the arts, social sciences, popular culture, and African-American history and culture. The final question that secured their victory read:

The tiny kingdom of Bhutan is the first nation to release these items made of steel, of 3D holograms, and, in 2008, of tiny CD-ROM's. For 10 points -- what are these small objects of interest to philatelists?
(Correct answer: Stamps)

The Oakwood University team beat second place finisher North Carolina Central University to claim the championship and take home grant money for its school. Oakwood’s Huntsville, Alabama, neighbors, Alabama Agricultural & Mechanical University, were eliminated after two rounds of “Sweet 16” competition.

"The Honda Campus All-Star Challenge gives us the opportunity to come out, represent our school and compete with an amazing group of people,” said Oakwood University team captain Alesis Turner. “Competition was tough, but once again we had a great team and I walk a little taller from having had the opportunity to play with them again."

Turner had captained the 2008 team that also won the championship. In both years, HCASC officials allowed Oakwood to complete its rounds outside of the hours of the Sabbath. The team included: Turner, a senior majoring in electrical engineering; Marcus Cooper, sophomore, history; Meaghan Hicks, junior, international studies; Jason Primus, junior, biology; Alexander Brown, junior, political science; and coach R. Rennae Elliott.

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The championship team along with OU president Delbert Baker (far right) and his wife Susan. [Photo: Business Wire]

The Oakwood team returned home through Huntsville International Airport Monday night, March 30, where they were greeted by wellwishers from Oakwood University and the Huntsville community. The team joins Tuskegee, Florida A&M, and Morehouse in the ranks of back-to-back winners at the national HCASC championship.

Since 1989, HCASC has brought together the nation’s best and brightest academic competitors from America’s top HBCUs. Throughout its 20-year history, HCASC has been the only annual academic competition between the nation’s HBCUs, touching more than 50,000 students and awarding monetary grants to participating HBCUs.

“The Honda Campus All-Star Challenge was created to highlight the intellectual and competitive skills of HBCU students, and provide an opportunity to build life long friendships,” said Marc Burt, senior manager, Office of Inclusion and Diversity, American Honda Motor Co., Inc., in a statement released by the firm. “Today, 20 years later, we are proud to say that HCASC not only shines a light on the academic excellence of HBCU students, but also serves as a platform for the educational, cultural and personal enrichment of our nation’s youth. As Honda marks 50 years of operations in the U.S., we are honored to be part of this life-enriching event.”

During the three-day tournament, the 64 HBCU teams competed in a modified round robin format. The top two teams from each of eight divisions advanced to the "Sweet 16,” in a single elimination playoff. The final two teams then competed for the National Champion title in a best two out of three final series.
                                 —With reporting from American Honda Motor Company, Oakwood University, and AR staff