Umoja Black Scholars Program


What is Umoja?

Umoja (Ooo-moe’-jah), a Kiswahili word meaning unity, is a learning community dedicated to the academic success, personal growth, and self-actualization of African American and other students.

Umoja Black Scholars program at Highline College connects students and community members in order to share the cultural and educational experiences of African Americans and other students.

This is an introduction based on the growing Umoja community at Orange Coast College in Hayward, CA.

While there are other Umoja programs in states like California and Arizona, the Umoja Black Scholars program at Highline College is the first Umoja program in the state of Washington. In fact, you can connect with the Umoja Community and locate our Highline Umoja program using this link.

The community of Umoja at Highline College is a critical resource dedicated to enhancing the cultural and educational experiences of all students. We believe that when the voices and histories of students are deliberately and intentionally recognized, the opportunity for self-efficacy emerges and a foundation is formed for academic success.

Umoja actively serves and promotes student success for all students through a curriculum and pedagogy responsive to the legacy of the African and African American Diasporas.


Educational Philosophy

Umoja is a community of educators and learners committed to the academic success, personal growth and self-actualization of African American and other students. The Umoja Community seeks to educate the whole student–body, mind and spirit. Informed by an ethic of love and its vital power, the Umoja Community will deliberately engage students as full participants in the construction of knowledge and critical thought.


Financial Aid/Scholarships


FALL 2017

Environmental Science 101 / Sociology 101

College Studies 100


English 101 / Communications 220

Diversity and Globalism Studies 137 (African Amer. Experience)


English 205 / Mathematics 146 / Service Learning


“Return and get it ”
A West African symbol of importance of learning from the past.



Liz Word - Communications Faculty

Darryl Brice - Sociology Faculty

Woody Moses - Biology Faculty

Stephanie Owings - English Faculty

Maurice Dolberry - Diversity and Global Studies Faculty

Shane Kibler-Trimboli - Mathematics Faculty


Umoja Committee

Liz Word

Communciation Studies Faculty / Umoja Black Scholars Program Coordinator

As a full time communication studies faculty member at Highline College, Liz enjoys teaching introductory courses, and small group communication. In addition to being the program coordinator for the Umoja Black Scholars program for African American student achievement, Word was instrumental in the development of the African American Leadership Forum of Greater Seattle, an organization that provides a platform for community discussion, agenda building and civil civic discourse on issues that are of importance to the African American community (child welfare, law and justice, healthcare, education, and economic prosperity). Liz holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Master of Arts in Communication from Washington State University. Prior to her teaching career, Liz spent over 15 years working across the State’s Higher Education institutions, including Washington State University, Central Washington University, Seattle University and the University of Washington, in the areas of alumni relations, development, admissions and career services. Liz’s broad experience in higher education and her passion for working with historically underserved students brought her to Highline College.



Shannon Waits

Director of Academic Assessment and Placement for the Placement and Testing Center

Darryl Brice

Sociology Faculty

Woody Moses

Life, Ocean, & General Sciences Faculty

Patricia McDonald

Education Faculty

Laura Manning

Communication Studies Faculty

Shawna Freeman
Business Faculty

Rashad Norris

Director Community Engagement for Outreach Services

Lisa Bernhagen

English Faculty

Jodi White

Education Faculty

D Walker

Academic Advisor for the Educational Planning and Advising Center


To apply, complete the application here!

For questions about the program, email


Please feel free to contact us with any questions, comments, or concerns:
Office Phone: 206-592-4470
Additional Phone: 206-592-4651