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Benedict College becomes 1st HBCU to launch esports gaming room and degree track
Benedict College is now in on one of the fastest growing industries in the United States, offering gaming, and a degree track in esports./WACH

Benedict College is now in on one of the fastest growing industries in the United States, offering gaming, and a degree track in esports.

“We’re here to make a change. We’re here to put black faces in all colors of the scale into esports,” said Kylah Montgomery, a double art major at Benedict College. She is one of one of dozens of students on the college campus, now on the cusp of history.

Benedict College is now the first HBCU in the nation to launch an esports gaming room, and degree track dedicated to all things esports.

“I think it’s a little of an adrenaline rush, I think I just kind of enjoy it, it takes me to another place, and I get to relax when I play video games,” said Mitch Romig, a student athlete at Benedict College student. He’s been competing in esports for three years, and even led the Benedict Tigers to win multiple competitions.

“What people don’t understand is how big esports actually is, it’s taking the nation over,” Romig also said.

Matthew Drapeau started as an esports professor at Benedict College last fall. He’s opening the doors for students to take advantage of careers in esports marketing, broadcasting and even program development.

“You’re learning emotional control, problem solving skills, as you come up with things, building things, and critical thinking skills, you can learn cybersecurity skills,” Drapeau said.

It’s a career track Dr. Paula Shelby, who heads the school’s HPER department, worked for more than two years to bring to the campus.

“It is a billion-dollar industry, it’s growing every year, and there is more opportunities, especially for African Americans and people of color in esports,” said Shelby. “We have competitions at Benedict College, as well as out in the community, and then we always get invitations to compete at a national level.”

All to show students, parents, and even the rest of us, there’s more to these games than meet the eye.

“It’s just the same as a football player stepping under Friday night lights,” Montgomery added.

“I say just hop on the train before it leaves the station,” Romig went on to say.

Dr. Shelby says the college will now begin to use their esports degree program as a recruitment tool, going into different neighborhoods and communities to spread the word, and create more graduates.

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