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Soncier Bey

Published February 15, 2024

“Motivated” is the word Soncier Bey uses to routinely describe his day-to-day outlook. The word-smithing hip-hop artist and Prince George’s Community College alum recently won BET’s Beats and Bars rap competition powered by Nissan.

Bey was selected among several submissions for his light-hearted, 60-second rap highlighting his connection to hip-hop’s historical legacy. He ended his prize-winning sixteen bars expressing the thrill of being a part of hip-hop culture.

“It’s a beautiful time to be alive,” Bey said. “It’s all about what an individual wants. You can have anything you want. You have to create your own perspective of success.”

As the winner of the national rap competition, Bey received a monetary prize and the opportunity to fly to New York to shoot a music video for the song featuring Nissan’s newest Ariya electric vehicle. The video was shown during the nationally syndicated BET Awards ceremony filmed in October 2023. The video has also been featured in a national advertising campaign for Nissan.

“In my heart, I felt I was the winner,” Bey said. “Of course, I was excited to actually win! I got the star quality treatment that I felt I deserved. My relationship with BET is long-standing and it started with a 106 & Park performance many years ago. Winning this competition felt like those days-a rejuvenated feeling.”

Rejuvenation is his reward after many years of remaining motivated and dedicated to a musical calling. Bey uses music as a medicinal vehicle to empower, heal, and transform his community. As a child, he was affectionately called “preacher” in the neighborhood.

“I love how music makes you feel,” he said. “I love the ability to express myself artistically because I have a lot of opinions and viewpoints. I was always very wise.”

Bey spent most of his adolescence being raised in Prince George’s County where he encountered many negative influences. At the age of 16, he suffered a knife wound injury after being stabbed several times in his back resulting in 32 staples.

“It was violence, drugs, police chasings, and shootings,” he said. “I grew up around all of that and it took a toll on how I perceived things. I had a chip on my shoulder about being melanated and being a youth.”

In time, Bey recovered from the incident and persisted in his musical giftings. He formed rap groups with his neighborhood peers, entered several competitions, and eventually had his music played on the radio. Through the years, he released several projects and six albums.

In 2010, he was invited to perform with singer Darelle on BET’s 106 & Park show. He said he spent years catching the bus to attend the show as an audience member to study other rap contest winners. He looked to artists like Twista, Nas, and Tupac Shakur for inspiration. Bey felt he could relate to Tupac’s artistry on many levels.

“I always felt a certain way about my neighborhood but I didn’t know how to frame it,” Bey said. “Tupac was doing that. He was a drama student who grew up in a certain neighborhood and had certain experiences who was able to tap into his divine masculinity and still give you the feminine energy and sensitivity. He was balancing both energies. He was vicious with both of them. He was super romantic, really angry, and revolutionary.”

In 2017, Bey graduated from PGCC after matriculating towards a mass communications degree as a recipient of the Herb Block Foundation scholarship. Although he admits to initially having a disdain for college, attending PGCC as a challenge from his uncle turned out to be a beneficial decision.

“I really started to expand my opinion about community college once I started attending,” Bey said. “I was like wow PGCC has a lot of technology here! I met great people and made great relationships. I met a lot of artists.”

Today, Bey serves as the program director for the nonprofit, Message in the Music, where he recruits and trains other artists to use their talents to be change agents in the world. The programming focuses on community development, financial literacy, and spirituality.

“The lack of spiritual principles is the reason why some of them [the youth] have an impoverished way of thinking and a lot of them are discouraged,” he said. “You have to have the ingenuity skillset to be developed not only as a business-minded individual but as a spiritual being. Without spiritual grounding, you are subjected to be swayed and lose faith.”

The message in Bey’s music has always been about spiritual empowerment.

“Everything is a calling,” he said. “It’s a spiritual calling for me to assist the people who are seeking to get in touch with their inner God. My mission is to enlighten as many spirits as I can through music and teaching.”

Watch Soncier’s video commercial, BET interview, and freestyle performance. Learn more about Soncier’s music here

 

Kendall Andrews smiles in a portrait in a light green shirt and gold earrings.

Kendall Andrews

Published January 9, 2024

While attending Charles Herbert Flowers High School, Kendall Andrews attended PGCC as a dual enrollment student from fall 2019 to spring 2020. Later that year, in the fall, Kendall graduated and began attending Spelman College with a full presidential scholarship.

Read about Kendall’s experience in PGCC’s dual enrollment program, how she received her presidential scholarship, what inspires her, and her career plans post-graduation. This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

1.) Tell us about your background and where you are from.

My name is Kendall Andrews. I’m from Prince George’s County, MD, and I am 21 years old. I attended Charles Herbert Flower High School in the science and technology program on the computer science track. I am currently a graduating senior at Spelman College in Atlanta, GA, as a computer science major and dance performance and choreography minor.

I am a Dovey Roundtree Presidential Scholar, which covers full tuition, fees, and room and board for four years [at Spelman College]. I am a Zynga Gaming Scholar, which covers $10,000 for financial aid and supports students interested in gaming. I am part of multiple school organizations, such as Girls Who Code (mentor), Spelman Spelbots Team (social media chair), Spelman E-Sports Team (treasurer), Spelman Dance Theatre (student choreographer), the AUC Agency (dancer), Spelman Dance Student Association (ambassador), Society of Women Engineers, National Society of Black Engineers, Spelman NCNW Section, Spelman NAACP Section, Spelman XR Gaming Club, Spelman Sisters of S.T.E.M, and the DMV Club.

2.) What inspires you? Who are your biggest influences?

I am inspired by my family, but specifically, my mother and my older sister. These two women are my biggest influences because they support me one hundred percent in anything I do and consistently push me to be the best I can be.

3.) What led you to take dual enrollment courses at PGCC?

I took dual enrollment at PGCC to replace my 12th-grade English credit. The course gave me an opportunity to have a half-a-day schedule as a senior and a head start at taking college-level courses.

6.) What inspired you to pursue your major of choice?

Since I attended Charles Herbert Flowers High School in the science and technology program on the computer science track, I had experience in computer science. I met with the head of the department before my first semester started and got introduced to the entire staff. The department was small, and I was confident that if I had any problems, I would have the support I needed to get my questions answered or to receive the assistance I needed to succeed. After I completed my first semester with a 4.0 GPA, I saw that I really understood and enjoyed what I had learned in my first computer science class and continued to pursue it ever since.  

7.) What surprised you the most about being a PGCC student? Tell us more about your experience here.

What surprised me was how prepared I was as a PGCC student. At first, I was nervous that the course would be difficult, especially since I was taking the class with real college students and adults. But, while taking the course, I realized that my AP classes prepared me for the college workload and expectations that my professor had for me.

For the communications course I took at PGCC, I remember having a very kind professor. I enjoyed every class, and even when some students weren’t as prepared or having the best day, she was always very understanding. She encouraged class participation and group assignments, which allowed me to get to know the other students in the class. Every assignment we had to complete was either a paper or a speech. I enjoy writing, but I get nervous from public speaking. From taking the course, my confidence after every speech grew, and my professor always gave me extremely encouraging feedback.

8.) You received a full Presidential Scholarship at Spelman College. Can you tell us more about that and its significance for you?

My senior year in high school was cut short due to COVID-19. While being quarantined at home, I got a job and applied to over 100 scholarships to be able to pay for Spelman’s tuition. At my job, I signed up for a tuition reimbursement program so I could pay my tuition. At Spelman, I got a 4.0 GPA in my first semester and a 3.92 GPA in my second semester. I was recommended to become a computer science teaching assistant as a freshman and be a part of the MITRE Corporation’s first-ever Cyber Futures cybersecurity internship.

After such a successful first year, my mom emailed the president of the college, my financial aid advisor, and the dean of the computer science department about my accomplishments and how hard I have been working to make sure I can continue to afford and attend Spelman. From my mom’s letter, my professor emailed the president of the college recommending that I receive the Dovey Roundtree Presidential Scholarship. After the first semester of my second year, I received that scholarship, which was a full-ride merit-based scholarship for the entirety of my time at Spelman.

9.) How did your PGCC experience prepare you to attend Spelman College?

My experience at PGCC prepared me to attend Spelman because it allowed me to gain more experience in writing. I came into Spelman with one hundred percent confidence in my writing. I have received As on every paper I have written at Spelman. Last semester, I received one hundred percent [scores] on all my papers in my Introduction to Women Studies class and finished with a 101%. I also received an A on my 10-page mandatory capstone research paper as a computer science major.

10.) What would you like to accomplish after graduating?

My goal after graduating is to go to graduate school for data science. My ultimate goal is to create technology that can benefit my community. I love mentoring younger kids, especially Black girls. I want to be able to encourage STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) students – like me – that they can combine their passions and interests and excel. Similarly, I want to be able to combine my creative skills with my passion for dance and my analytical skills with my experience in computer science.

11.) What advice do you have for the next graduating class at PGCC?

The advice I will give to the next graduating class at PGCC would be to treasure the time you have right now. The professors are giving you the tools to succeed whether you can identify it right now or not. You are gaining the knowledge you need to soar in whatever your future goals are.

It is now up to you to use them to the best of your ability. I am sure you all will do great things. Believe in yourself – give yourself grace because you got it!

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