Woman Embarks On Bucket-List Journey To Over 90 HBCUs

Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) symbolize both a legacy of resilience and a beacon of opportunity. HBCUs have been steadfast in their mission to provide access to higher education for Black Americans. They were born out of necessity during racial segregation, often offering pathways to success that were once denied. These institutions are cultural epicenters that foster academic excellence and leadership development. HBCUs have consistently cultivated talent. They also contribute not only to the advancement of Black communities but also to the overall landscape of American higher education.

Eleise Richards, a proud alumna of Howard University, took it upon herself to cultivate awareness and opportunity for those who may not be aware of HBCUs or the American system of higher education. Her passion comes from her journey as a first-generation college student and the child of Jamaican immigrants. Growing up, she was unfamiliar with the American higher education landscape. In 2016, Richards started a college fair in her hometown of Irvington, New Jersey. Eventually, it grew into a nonprofit called Experience the Legacy.

Photo Credit: Visual Vic

Creating a Non-profit

What began as a modest college fair blossomed into an impactful nonprofit. Richards sought to extend the invitation to the fair to a wider audience. She felt compelled to draw inspiration from her transformative years at Howard. As a result, she specifically includes students whose circumstances might prevent a physical exploration of these esteemed institutions

However, as the fair gained momentum Richards confronted her realization that her knowledge of the HBCUs remained incomplete. She recognized the importance and need to truly understand the institutions she championed. In 2020, she embarked on a journey to immerse herself in the fabric of HBCU culture while also providing access to recruiters, alumni, and other assets.

She decided to split her journey into three distinct legs. Richards journeyed across the nation to visit universities, from the historic Alabama State University in Montgomery to the campuses of Prairie View A&M University in Texas, and Elizabeth City State University in North Carolina. Her quest encompassed 93 schools, every four-year degree-granting HBCU in North America.

Breaking HBCU Misconceptions

She emphasized the incredible diversity at HBCUs. There are many misconceptions about the institutions and she wants to expand the narrative.

“It’s very diverse,” she affirms, noting the inclusivity of backgrounds and cultures she encountered. “There are students from all walks of life, all types of different countries. There’s just a lot of misconceptions out there,” she told Goodmorning America.

Richards remains steadfast in her commitment to fostering access and understanding as Experience the Legacy prepares for its next chapter. The forthcoming college fair, scheduled for September, offers students, parents, and community members a gateway to a world of possibilities, and it’s all free of charge.

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