"Education Is the Key to Success"
THE LATE MRS. PENSAL J. McCRAY, FOUNDER
HISTORY OF THE ETHNIC COLLEGE COUNSELING CENTER
The late Mrs. Pensal J. Winston McCray, ECCC Founder and Director, Teacher, and mother of five successful children, worked tirelessly for youth. Appalled by attempts to stereotype her own children, in 1983, she and the late Dr. Christophe McCray started the Ethnic College Counseling Center directed by Mrs. McCray for more than 30 years. She felt strongly that education was the beginning of positive change, and she encouraged, guided, and advocated for more than 3000 students across the country, telling them, “You are not dumb; you can succeed at a college that's matched with your temperament and scholastics." Her mantra was “Education Is the Key to Success.”
Awards Presented to Mrs. Pensal J. McCray: For her dedication to education, Mrs. McCray received one of the 2009 Colorado Jefferson Awards for Public Service and represented Colorado at the national Jefferson Awards ceremony. She was one of few recipients of the prestigious Minoru Yasui Community Volunteer Award for outstanding contributions to ethnic youth. She earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology and Music and was a gifted pianist, piano teacher, and recipient of the Robinson African-American Music Award and the Charles Burrell Award for Contributions to Rocky Mountain Musical Life. A Master's Degree in Human Communications and Psychological Counseling, Certifications for K-8 Special Education and Education of the Black Child, helped prepare her for the important work of establishing and directing the Center. Her pedagogical techniques are discussed in Leah Latimer's Higher Ground. She also received the United Methodist Church Black College Fund Award; the Hope Legacy Award; and the Denver Public Library Juanita Gray Award.
Students participate in bi-monthly college preparatory workshops with presentations by volunteer educators, artists, community activists, scientists, business leaders, lawyers, judges, medical doctors, and parents who also help nurture and support Center students. Every two years, students tour campuses of Historical Black Colleges and Universities and other African-American heritage sites. In alternate years the Center hosts the HBCU College Fair, the largest HBCU Fair in the Intermountain West connecting over 500 students with staff and volunteers from HBCUs.
The Fair is held from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. the first Saturday in March. Responding to participating schools' need to consolidate travel expenses, in 2013 and 2017, the ECCC hosted the main Fair at East HS and satellite sessions in Aurora Public School and Cherry Creek School District facilities. The Fair is organized by experienced educators, HBCU graduates, and community volunteers.
Operation of the Center is directed by Fulbright Scholar and distinguished educator,
Dr. Talia McCray, Ph.D. Oversight is provided by the five McCray siblings who comprise the Board of Directors. The Board is assisted by a committed corps of volunteers.
PENSAL J. McCRAY
TALIA M. McCRAY, Phd