Fall 2023 Issue:

An Alum Reflects

Defying the Odds

Growing up surrounded by poverty, crime, and drugs, Baru Roberson-Hornsby ’19 could have gone to the dark side like many of the youth in his neighborhood, but the love of family and a passion for learning inspired a bright future.

Defying the Odds

Baru Roberson-Hornsby ’19 addresses high school students at the Black & Latino Male College Readiness Program of the Lehigh Valley.

By Baru Roberson-Hornsby ’19, Fall 2023

I grew up in Asbury Park, New Jersey, which has historically suffered from high poverty, drug abuse, and crime. Seeing these issues firsthand as a child began to shape my view of what my future would look like. I could easily have fallen victim to my environment. Fortunately, I have a huge family (nearly 100 cousins!) who looked after me and taught me that I was unique and had a special purpose in this life. Having that affirmation and a great desire for knowledge at a young age gave me the motivation to pursue college and the opportunities it would offer me.

As with most first-generation college students, I did not know the first step in the search process. Choosing a school that was somewhat close to home was a priority, as was finding the most affordable option, since finances at home were tight. A close friend was on the track & field team at Moravian, and I chose to do an overnight recruitment stay with the team. As I got a feel for Moravian, I liked the small, close community and small class sizes, and I decided to attend.

Once on campus, I became involved in many cocurricular activities. I joined the men’s track & field team and the Black Student Union, was president of the Omicron Kappa chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, enjoyed the role of resident assistant, worked many campus jobs, and served on several institution-wide committees.

All these experiences taught me how to communicate effectively, manage my time efficiently, and build a personal and professional network. Being so heavily involved during my undergraduate career led me to discover my passion for helping others. So when an opening came up at Moravian for a new position as a career-development strategist, I jumped at it.

When someone asks what makes me happy, I tell them it’s people defying the odds stacked against them and achieving their lifelong goals.”

—Baru Roberson-Hornsby ’19

I’ve spent the past two years working in the Center for Career and Civic Engagement, specifically with first-year students. I guide them in their choice of majors and in their career interests, help them build résumés and other professional documents, and direct them to internship and professional development opportunities. Helping young adults reach their personal and professional goals gives me fulfilment.

Perhaps the most meaningful experience thus far has been serving as the program director for the Black & Latino Male College Readiness Program of the Lehigh Valley, supported by a generous sponsorship from Air Products. It is the first of its kind in the Lehigh Valley and provides Black and Latino males who are entering grades 10, 11, and 12 with a comprehensive experience to learn about the college search process. And it is free to all attendees.

Black and Latino males face significantly lower graduation rates compared to their peers. By addressing the specific challenges faced by these young men, providing support, fostering a sense of belonging, and empowering them, the program increases their chances of completing their college education and achieving their personal and professional goals.

When someone asks what makes me happy, I tell them it’s people defying the odds stacked against them and achieving their lifelong goals. 

Defying the Odds

Roberson-Hornsby helps students register for an open house hosted by the Center for Career and Civic Engagement.

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