Woman Fulfills Dream of Visiting 90+ HBCUs, Inspiring Students Along the Way

Eleise Richards is making waves by introducing HBCUs to students who are unfamiliar with the institutions.

The New Jersey resident told ‘Good Morning America,’ “I didn’t know about HBCUs. I did not grow up in an educational system that taught or encouraged us to attend HBCUs. I first found out about Howard after my best buddy told me she wanted to go.”

Richards, a Howard University alumna, founded Experience the Legacy, a nonprofit organization, after organizing a college fair in 2016.

Her experience as a first-generation college student and daughter of Jamaican immigrants who were uncomfortable with the American college system inspired her to create a free resource for students to identify their preferred HBCUs.

“I wanted to make sure students from neighborhoods and communities that look like mine, have the real information, have the resources, have the access to recruiters, to alumni, to learn more about these schools and truly assess whether it’s a good fit for them and consider them when they’re thinking about their future college journey,” he said.

After overseeing the fairs for two years, she felt “disingenuous” due to her lack of knowledge of the majority of HBCUs that sent representatives to market their schools.

She began her “bucket list” tour in 2020, wanting to visit as many HBCUs as possible. She organized her journey into three parts, starting with all of the East Coast colleges from New Jersey to North Carolina.

From Alabama State University in Montgomery, Alabama, and Prairie View A&M University in Prairie View, Texas, to Elizabeth City State University in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, in the fall of 2023, the 35-year-old accomplished her goal of visiting every four-year HBCU and a few community colleges in the connected states.

“In total, it ended up being 93 schools, every four-year degree-granting HBCU in North America,” he said.

She described the schools she visited as “very diverse.” It is not only made up of Black and Brown students. Students come from many walks of life and from a variety of nations. There are a lot of myths out there.

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