York Sends 'All Stars' To Honda Competition

For the fourth year in a row, Dr. Farley Mawyer and a revolving group of students have participated in the Honda All-Star Challenge in Orlando, Florida.

This year the York team comprised of four students coached by Dr. Mawyer of the Mathematics and Computer Studies Department were accompanied by President Marcia V. Keizs.

York, a relative new-comer to the game show-styled competition has not yet brought the main trophy home. However, they seem to embrace the adage that the journey is as important as the goal.

“I’m so glad I’m one of those people who never think you’re too old to experience new experiences,” said Shirley Jackson, a non-traditional freshman majoring in Physician Assistant Studies. “The last time I was in school was about 28 years ago. All the players had their strength, mine was personal experience.

Erick Timmons, a mathematics major and captain of York’s team, valued the experience as well.

It’s a unique experience,” he said. “How many people can say they competed in a challenge such as this and at the same time, experience new cultures?”

The culture to which Timmons refers is the annual mix of students from 48 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), of which York is not a member, but along with Medgar Evers College, is invited for its diverse student population.

The only competition of its kind in the nation, the Honda Campus All-Star Challenge (HCASC) was founded by American Honda in 1989. Each year since then it gathers top students from the nation's HBCUs for several days of intense academic competition, culminating in one HBCU winning the title as National Champion.

York’s interest in the competition was piqued when a Medgar Evers colleague shared the information with Dr. Jean Phelps, director of York’s Division of Student Activities; and she in turn shared it with President Marcia V. Keizs as a possibility for York; and Mawyer was asked to take on the project.

Known for his mentorship abilities as much as for his scholarship, Dr. Mawyer has trained far more than the 12 students who have gone on to the competition in Florida over the past four years. 

Students are invited to compete on campus and the four left standing at the end of the elimination process, travel along with Mawyer and other York guests, to Orlando for the culminating event. This year President Keizs attended and was impressed with York’s team.

“I am proud of our students, said President Keizs. They represented York well and I was delighted to be part of their cheering team.”

According to Keizs, giving it the proverbial “old college try,” is also important.

“I applaud their willingness to leave their comfort zone and embrace this new experience,” she noted. “It is imperative that we support those who represent York in their various endeavors. I also thank Dr. Mawyer for his commitment to bringing out the best in all our students, whether in the classroom or in co-curricular activities such as the HCASC.”

Questions at the Challenge run the gamut from the animal kingdom to American History and pop culture. The York students shared an example upon their return:

“This is a group of lions…”

“This Pride can be found at the Grand Old Opry….”

The answer in the first case would be “pride.” And in the second case, “Charley,” as in country music superstar, Charley Pride.

Asked how he came to be the York coach, Dr. Mawyer revealed it was President Keizs idea.

“The president thought of me because she was aware of my work all these years,” said Mawyer. “She thought I worked well with students; and I hope to continue [as the coach].”

Team York was rounded out by Business major, Grace Nsofor and Mareneth Banzon, Biology major.

According to Nsofor it was a self-revealing experience.

“I’m surprised I liked it so much,” she remarked. “It was interesting meeting my academic peers from other schools.”

Banzon, a second-time-around participant was grateful for the opportunity for a second impression.

“I had a great time going to Honda,” she said. “It is great interacting with other schools and this time I was more experienced and was able to do better and enjoy it more.”

The runner-up prize for the competing colleges is $3000; but the experience for the students is worth its weight in gold. This years winner was Prairie View A&M University who walked away with the $50,000 prize.

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