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Celebrating Legacies: The HBCU Experience

February 16, 2023
Tamara Wyre
Tamara Wyre

During Black History Month, we proudly celebrate the legacies that define our communities, our organization and our individual successes. The legacy of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) is a rich and integral part of how we have evolved and prospered as a nation.


HBCU History

HBCUs have been educating and empowering diverse students to lead in a broad variety of fields since the 1837 founding of the Institute for Colored Youth, the oldest predominantly African American institution of higher learning in the U.S., in Cheyney, Pennsylvania. Today, more than 100 HBCUs in 19 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands enroll nearly 300,000 students annually. And while HBCUs represent only 3% of America’s colleges and universities, they educate 10% of all Black students and produce almost 20% of all Black graduates.1

From entertainment to business and sport to politics, household names such as NFL Hall of Famer Jerry Rice, actress/dancer/choreographer Debbie Allen, civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., and Vice President Kamala Harris all attended HBCUs.


The HBCU Experience

Hancock Whitney believes in attracting, retaining and promoting quality talent and recognize that our diversity makes us a stronger company. We recognize the talent, experiences and insights HBCU graduates bring to our company and celebrate the impact they make on the people and places they call home.

Two Hancock Whitney associates share their own HBCU experience.


Annalisa Robinson

Annalisa Robinson
Instructional Design Specialist

Why did you choose to attend a HBCU? I love HBCUs so much I went to two of them. While attending Clark Atlanta University, life threw me a few life-changing curve balls. Therefore, I moved to St. Louis, Missouri and completed my Bachelor’s in Computer Technology and Information Sciences at Harris-Stowe State University. Go Hornets! Being a Detroit native, I chose to attend a HBCU to make a stronger connection with my community, heritage, and culture. “Inspiring Change” is HSSU’s motto and I wanted to be part of the legacy that a HBCU offers.

What is an interesting fact about your HBCU alma mater? Harris-Stowe State University is the first public teacher education institution west of the Mississippi River.

What is your fondest memory or greatest lesson from your HBCU experience? Registration! Those who know…know what I am talking about. I learned to be prompt and “get it done” even when it’s a challenge. A life-long lesson!

Who is a famous alumni from your HBCU alma mater? Bobby Wilks is a notable HSSC alumnus. He was an American Coast Guard aviator until his death in 2009. Mr. Wilks was also the first African American Guard aviator and the first African American to reach rank of Coast Guard captain. In addition, Captain Wilks was the first African American to command a Coast Guard air station.


Christopher Stewart

Christopher Stewart
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Program Specialist

Why did you choose to attend a HBCU?

During my time in elementary and middle school, I experienced a lot of racism in the schools and programs that I attended. It was during those years that I decided I wanted to attend an HBCU for college. I needed to be in a place where I felt included, and that would inspire me to go higher while having great support. When I made it to my senior year of high school I was heavily recruited by all types of institutions, however it was an HBCU that offered me the most scholarship money.

What is an interesting fact about your HBCU alma mater?

My HBCU, Dillard University, is the oldest HBCU in the State of Louisiana.

What is your fondest memory or greatest lesson from your HBCU experience?

My greatest lesson learned from my HBCU experience is that I have to always put my best foot forward in every room that I enter because I am representing more than just myself.

Who are famous alumni from your HBCU alma mater?

Ellis Marsalis, Garrett Morris, Dr. Nita Landry, Alice Dunbar Nelson, Dr. Ruth Simmons


Supporting HBCUs

Hancock Whitney proudly supports HBCUs across our footprint, including Jackson State, Bishop State, Florida A&M, Dillard University, Tougaloo College and Xavier University by providing scholarship funding, financial education and diversity learning experiences.

Additionally, Hancock Whitney is committed to recruiting diversity talent from HBCU institutions for employment or corporate internship opportunities. For the second year in a row, Hancock Whitney is a proud participant at the HBCU Legacy Bowl Career Fair. Part of the week-long celebration of Black culture and history surrounding a postseason college football all-star game showcasing the best NFL draft-eligible football players from HBCUs, the Legacy Bowl Career Fair provides job opportunities and career counseling for HBCU juniors and seniors.


Legacy Bowl Career Fair





1. https://uncf.org/the-latest/the-numbers-dont-lie-hbcus-are-changing-the-college-landscape