News for North Texas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Fort Worth students stunned with acceptance to Paul Quinn College during campus tour

Dallas' historically Black Paul Quinn College surprised hundreds of Fort Worth ISD students Thursday. What they thought was just a visit to the south Dallas campus turned into an announcement that they'd all been admitted.

Paul Quinn’s President Michael Sorrell sprung the news on the touring high schoolers who were watching Tigers basketball from the bleachers.

Between games of women’s and men’s teams, Sorrell strode to mid-court of the black, lacquered floor for the announcement.

Fort Worth ISD students are surprised with college admission letters for them and two family members from Paul Quinn College, during a men and women's basketball game, on Feb. 18, 2022.
Trevon McWilliams
/
KERA News
Paul Quinn College President Michael Sorrell holds center court in Paul Quinn’s new gym, as visiting Fort Worth ISD high schoolers look on. Between college basketball games, Sorrell tells the seniors they’ve all just been admitted to his college. The school’s also courting their families. Sorrell then extends his acceptance offer to two additional family members.

“Please allow me to be the first person to officially welcome you to Paul Quinn college,” said President Sorrell. “You all have been admitted to Paul Quinn college starting today.”

Long, loud cheers ensued from the shocked students of five different, Fort Worth ISD high schools which claim deep roots in the African American community. Students – all high-achievers - were from Eastern Hills, O.D. Wyatt, & Dunbar High Schools, as well as the Young Women’s Leadership Academy and Young Men’s Leadership Academy.

Amid ongoing cheers which Sorrell talked over, he said this was the beginning of an ongoing relationship with these Fort Worth high schools.

“From this moment forward, every senior at your high schools that have a 3.0 or better, will automatically be admitted to Paul Quinn College.”

The cheers grew louder again. Sorrell wasn’t done.

“In additional to you,” he continued, “we also are going to allow you to bring two of your family members with you to college as well. That could be your mother, your father, your brothers, your grandmothers. Whoever it is you want to bring to college, they get to come to college too,” Sorrell concluded.

Decibels rose for awhile.

Fort Worth ISD students are surprised with college admission letters for them and two family members from Paul Quinn College, during a men and women's basketball game, on Feb. 18, 2022.
Trevon McWilliams
/
KERA News
Fort Worth ISD seniors stood and cheered as they heard they’d just been automatically admitted to Paul Quinn College, because they’re all high-achievers. Several hundred of them were visiting the south Dallas campus not expecting they’d be addmitted to one of the nation’s Historically Black Colleges.

The announcement stunned Dunbar High senior Lynn Poland, who figured on a free lunch and some small souvenir from the school, not admission.

“Hearing that was really surreal for not only me,” said the 17 year-old, “but I know some of my peers who were kind of shocked about it, too.”

Lynn/Poland welcomed the family-member freebie too.

"I actually have a younger brother,” she said, “who is unsure about whether or not he wants to go to college. And hearing that he might be able to go - or is going to be able to go, if that's what he decides - is really reassuring for me because you want the best for your family."

That family connection was vital for Sorrell, who explained if you see your older brother going to college, and your cousin going with him, and your grandmother going with them, that that changes what you think is possible. “It's about changing what people think is possible,” Sorrell said.

He added it’s what’s right.

Fort Worth ISD students are surprised with college admission letters for them and two family members from Paul Quinn College, during a men and women's basketball game, on Feb. 18, 2022.
Trevon McWilliams
/
KERA News
Fort Worth ISD students pose for a group photo during a basketball game at Paul Quinn College, on Feb. 18, 2022.

“We expect people from under-resourced communities, first generation students, to be heroes. We put an enormous amount of pressure on them and tell them, ‘Go be the hero, save your families,’ but we don’t ask anybody else to do that.”

Sorrell said middle-class or wealthy kids aren’t asked to do the same - for one person to radically transform the fortunes of their family.

“So why,” he wondered, “would we ask the people who are the most economically fragile to do that?”

Got a tip? Email Reporter Bill Zeeble at bzeeble@kera.org. You can follow him on Twitter @bzeeble.

Bill Zeeble has been a full-time reporter at KERA since 1992, covering everything from medicine to the Mavericks and education to environmental issues.