Elizabeth City State University alumnus Valerie Edwards has come a long way from the “broken” teenager that she was before she applied to ECSU.

 This year Edwards is among a talented group of individuals on the 2016 HBCU 30 Under 30 list. The leaders represent historically black colleges and universities all across the country.

The 2014 ECSU graduate, is proud of her inclusion in the distinguished group of HBCU-educated scholars.

“It’s such an honor to be amongst outstanding black men and women who have not only served their institutions well, but also their communities,” Edwards said. “This honor has really opened my eyes and shown me what I am really capable of, and sometimes we need that push, that one thing that proves we are on the right path to success.”

That path almost didn’t include a stop at ECSU for Edwards. In 2009, a few months before her graduation from high school in Whiteville, North Carolina, her family’s home burned down. She had been accepted to and planning on attending college in Florida, but her plans changed after the fire.

“I lost a part of me in that fire, and so did my family,” Edwards said. “I was extremely broken and at that point I was no longer thinking about school, and I sure didn’t want to attend a university several states away.”

Her mother encouraged her to apply to ECSU, and Edwards considers it one of the best decisions she’s ever made, as the university welcomed her with open arms.

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