On July 28th, a group of one hundred young Black girls from East Orange, Newark, and Hillside participated in the Black Girls Go to Yale initiative, a program created by Dr. Ijeoma Opara last year.
The initiative aims to provide these girls with a firsthand experience at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, fostering their aspirations for higher education.
The theme for their visit was “You Belong in the Room.”
Dr. Opara, the director of Yale University’s Substances & Sexual Health (SASH) Lab, founded the Black Girls Go to Yale initiative as part of her research-based Dreamer Girls Project (DGP).
According to Opara, the DGP focuses on developing sexual health and drug use prevention programs for Black girls.
“Over time, the project has evolved into a Black girl empowerment endeavor, inspiring young Black girls to pursue careers in public health and encouraging them to lead future prevention projects tailored for Black girls,” she said
The visit to Yale was made possible through collaboration with various organizations, including the East Orange Mayor’s Office of Employment and Training, Newark Office of Violence Prevention and Trauma Recovery, and Hillside Innovation Academy.
Prior to this visit, 25 girls from Paterson had the opportunity to tour the campus on July 13th, while in January, Dr. Opara arranged a special visit for 9-year-old Bobbi Wilson, recognizing her outstanding efforts in eradicating spotted lanternflies in her hometown of Caldwell, New Jersey.
Having grown up in Jersey City, Dr. Opara understands the challenges faced by young Black girls in urban communities.
She personally experienced the lack of exposure to prestigious institutions like Yale and aims to bridge that gap through the Black Girls Go to Yale initiative.
Driven by her vision, she hopes to bring 1,000 Black girls to Yale in the coming years, offering them a chance to envision their own bright futures in higher education and beyond.