Benedict College is diving into the world of esports.

The school, located in Columbia, South Carolina, announced that it will become the first HBCU with an esports degree track, reports

Dr. Paula Shelby, who heads the school’s Health, Physical Education and Recreation department (HPER) has worked for over two years to develop the innovative program. She expressed her excitement about bringing the initiative to the campus.

“It is a billion-dollar industry, it’s growing every year, and there are more opportunities, especially for African Americans and people of color in esports,” said Shelby, regarding the importance of Black students becoming involved in the esports sector. “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.”

Dr. Janeen Witty, Benedict College Vice President of Academic Affairs added, “In keeping with Benedict’s strategic plan to offer transformational learning experiences, our innovative Esports Administration curriculum is designed to prepare students to create new applications and to engage in all facets of the industry.” 

Matthew Drapeau, who taught esports at Benedict College last fall, believes that students will have ample opportunities to explore careers in esports marketing, broadcasting, and program development in the program.

“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,” said Drapeau.

Over the last few years, Benedict has been intentional about its involvement in the esports space. In 2020, the school hosted an esports competition in partnership with Blaze Fire Games. They also partnered with Blaze Fire to launch the college’s esports club, and for Madden and NCAA College Football tournaments.