Lake Worth, Fla. – The grand opening for the Dr. Barbara Carey-Shuler Equity Institute at Palm Beach State College’s main campus in Lake Worth took place Tuesday.

The opening ceremony and ribbon cutting featured remarks from Carey-Shuler and her friends and colleagues including PBSC President Dr. Ava Parker.

Carey-Shuler, educator, philanthropist and businesswoman, made history as the first Black woman on the Miami-Dade County Board of County Commissioners, eventually becoming its first Black chair.

Her concern for equity for minority students, particularly Black males, led to the institute named in her honor, the first of its kind in the state, organizers said.

Shuler said she felt compelled to unite with PBSC President Dr. Ava Parker to help students in need, following a breakfast at the Spady Cultural Museum in Delray Beach, where Parker pleaded with guests to stand with her in helping students get into and navigate the college experience and graduate.

The longtime educators began talks on the plight of minority students, resulting in the initial concept and commitment to help smooth the path of students.

Carey-Shuler subsequently stunned Parker with a gift of $1.6 million to assure that minority students, particularly Black males, can more readily have a positive experience and actually graduate from college.

Carey-Shuler was nearly in tears Tuesday in expressing her concern for seeing students feel valued, supported and at home during their college experience, adding that she wants to see black males graduate on par with their counterparts.

“I’m proud that God allowed me to be a part of this day,” the honoree said. “It was only God. I had to stand with Dr. Parker with funds.

“What is most important is what’s going to happen in this place. When Dr. Parker shared with me what’s happening with especially Black males, I knew I was going to do something. It helps me to have purpose,” she said, adding: “These students will not be marginalized because of their skin color.”

The institute’s data show that Black male college graduation rates lag behind their white and Hispanic counterparts both male and female.

Officials said their priorities include expanding access to college through outreach initiatives, increasing opportunities for students to be successful through strategic programming and services, and accelerating completion to keep students on track to achieve their goals. The institute also will focus on peer-reviewed research on such topics as the Black male experience in college.

“Today is a very special honor,” said President Parker. “Little did I know that God had Dr. Shuler in an audience when I was speaking. Males just aren’t graduating at the rate of everyone else and that bothers me. With this institute we can do the research and pour into our students who are left behind.”

A section of the second floor of the Lake Worth campus library was reconfigured and renovated making room for the institute. Officials said they hope it will be duplicated at colleges throughout the country.