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Oakwood University wins Honda Campus All-Star Challenge national championship

TORRANCE, Calif. — Following a commanding final game series, Oakwood University secured top honors and a $100,000 institutional grant from Honda at the 35th Honda Campus All-Star Challenge (HCASC), America’s premier academic competition for students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Oakwood University earned the 2024 Honda Campus All-Star Challenge national championship title and a $100,000 institutional grant from Honda. (American Honda contributed)

The winning team was coached by Dr. Steven Lai Hing and includes team captain Jonathan Gunthrope, a senior majoring in Finance from Westchester, N.Y.Hannah Browning, a senior majoring in Film & Television Production from Powder Springs, Ga.Janiah Hinds, a sophomore majoring in History from Memphis, Tenn.; and Grayson Mejia, a senior majoring in Applied Mathematics from Henrico, Va.

This was Oakwood’s 28th appearance in a Honda Campus All-Star Challenge national championship tournament and its fourth win.

“Winning HCASC in one word?” said Mejia. “Unbelievable. This is my fourth year competing, and I just really can’t believe it happened.

“I want to thank our players for their work ethic, drive, and sportsmanship. They were champions to me before the trophy. This win just confirms for everyone else what I already knew.”

Hosted at the American Honda corporate campus in Torrance, Calif., more than 200 HBCU students and their coaches participated in this year’s HCASC National Championship Tournament.

Beyond the competition, the HCASC program included student networking opportunities and activities with HBCU presidents and representatives. Honda provided more than $500,000 in institutional grants to the participating HBCUs.

“Congratulations to the scholars from Oakwood University on their dynamic performance and national championship win at the 2024 Honda Campus All-Star Challenge,” said Yvette Hunsicker, vice president of Corporate Social Responsibility and Inclusion & Diversity at American Honda Motor Co., Inc. “On behalf of Honda, we applaud all the 35th anniversary HCASC participants on their exemplary display of HBCU excellence. We also thank all the volunteers and alumni who made this year’s program possible.”

Honda Campus All-Star Challenge is a year-round program that celebrates HBCU academic excellence and challenges students to expand their scope of knowledge on a wide range of topics, with the opportunity to gain lifelong learning skills, including leadership, collaboration, and sportsmanship.

Sixty-four teams competed in a series of national qualifying tournaments earlier this year and were narrowed down to field of 32 teams that participated in the HCASC National Championship Tournament.

Based on the program’s emphasis on making “Friends for Life,” participating students share in the opportunity to build camaraderie with their peers from other HBCUs and gain mentorship opportunities with HCASC alumni and Honda associates.

The 2024 HCASC theme, “Live Your Dream,” aims to inspire students to embrace their dreams and manifest the success and achievements they envision for themselves.

In a two-game sweep during the 35th HCASC National Championship final match, the scholars from Oakwood University defeated the Howard University team by accurately answering questions about history, science, literature, religion, the arts, and pop culture. Oakwood bested teams from 31 HBCUs and qualified for the National Championship Tournament after winning a series of regional competitions throughout the academic year.

Runner-up Howard University received a grant from Honda, as did the third and fourth place finishers–Spelman College and Morehouse College, respectively. Albany State UniversityHampton UniversityLincoln University-Pennsylvania and Tennessee State University rounded out the “Great 8” teams that competed in the HCASC Finals.

In all, Honda will distribute more than $500,000 in institutional grants to the 32 participating schools.

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