Johnson C. Smith University Attracts 400 Students to Esports and Gaming Week Event

Johanna with student in esports lab

Featuring a Visit from Senior VP of the Call of Duty Franchise

Charlotte, N.C./March 3, 2023 – Johnson C. Smith University is known as home of a comprehensive Esports and Gaming Program that is the first of its kind at an HBCU.

Esports and Gaming at JCSU is comprised of an academic program, an esports lab and a highly competitive esports club, which makes it different from programs at other institutions.

With sights set on increasing diversity in the field by educating more esports and gaming professionals, JCSU hosted Esports and Gaming Week, which attracted more than 400 middle and high school students to campus March 1 and 2.

“This has been an amazing event,” said Dr. BerNadette Lawson-Williams, founder and coordinator of the Esports and Gaming Program at JCSU. “These students came to learn about esports and gaming. However, the field is so vast that we were able to talk about practically every major field of study we offer here at JCSU.”

Group picture jcsu with activision blizzard
JCSU Esports and Gaming program students and faculty with Activision Blizzard team.

The esports and gaming industry attracts many consumers and is projected to earn more than $321 billion by 2026.

Despite this significant level of growth, there are still large disparities in the number of people of color involved in the industry. The Activision Blizzard team, one of the world’s leading esports and gaming powerhouses, is looking to address that.

Some of the iconic franchises produced by the company include Call of Duty, Crash Bandicoot, Guitar Hero, Spyro, World of Warcraft, Candy Crush Saga and Overwatch.

Members of the Activision Blizzard team visited JCSU students who are studying esports and gaming or are involved in the club to discuss career opportunities and highlight the skills the company looks for in entry level team members. The company has a special interest in bringing more veterans and people of color into the esports and gaming industry.

“We were honored to partner with Activision Blizzard to co-produce this historic ‘HBCU Esports and Gaming Week’ event, which is aimed at positioning gamer-scholars to achieve career success beyond their controllers,” said Lawson-Williams. “We are always excited to have industry leaders come to us and tell our students what skills they will need in the professional world.”

The program is also working to diversify the industry with more women gamers. JCSU student Karen Tambwe ’24 wants JCSU’s Esports and Gaming Club to be a safe haven for women who love to game.

Karen speaks during visit from activision blizzard
Tambwe speaks during visit with Activision Blizzard team.

“There are so many girls who want to join esports and gaming, but they’re scared because they don’t see many people like them,” Tambwe said. “I am here to help inspire them and let other women know there is space for them in this industry.”

Lawson-Williams says future plans include an all-female COD Squad, to which the Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Call of Duty Franchise Johanna Faries said, “that’s great, I absolutely love that!”

The Activision Blizzard team was joined by JCSU faculty and staff as well as Dr. Alphonso Ogbuehi, dean of the College of Business and Professional Studies; Dr. Patrick Martin, dean of the College of STEM; and Dr. Angela White, dean of University College and Student Success. 

The Esports and Gaming program is in its third year, and its students are already accomplishing amazing things, including beating large universities like Duke University in gaming competitions. There are some new program opportunities opening soon, according to Lawson-Williams.

For more information on the Esports and Gaming program or how you can get involved, contact Lawson-Williams at 

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