HBCU Hidden Figure: Yleis Engerman

May 8, 2020 | Written by

Yleis Engerman
Alabama State University
Beta Pi Initiate, Spring 2008

Profession: Mental Health and Substance Abuse Counselor/Therapist

The Journey

Soror Yleis attended and graduated from Alabama State University with both an Undergraduate and Graduate degree. She chose to attend an HBCU because “There is so much blackness…So much dopeness… in our culture. In our people. I attended because my sister was attending, but also because my grandfather’s cousin played a role in the founding and funding of the university. How could I not?” Following graduation, Yleis returned to Alabama State and later graduated with her master’s degree in Clinical/Mental Health Counseling. She is currently a Nationally Certified Counselor, a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor, and a Licensed Mental Health Counselor.

The Influence


Yleis says that attending an HBCU definitely influenced her career path. She did not know what she wanted to do or be when she got to college. She was 17 and grieving the death of her best friend who passed the year prior. Yleis majored in psychology and soon realized that gaining that knowledge was not just for her… but for the culture.

The Advice


Yleis’ advice to young women and men who are considering whether or not to attend an HBCU: DO IT! “It will be an experience you’ll remember for forever and a day. You’ll gain lifelong friends, who become family. You’ll meet amazing black professors who are literally taking the world by storm. You will gain an appreciation for being black, which contradicts what the world tells us. Not to mention the tailgating, the marching bands, Greek Life… Movies and social media don’t do it any justice. You have to be on the yard. At the games. Experiencing it all. Literally the best years of my life.”
The greatest lesson Yleis learned from attending an HBCU is that there is so much beauty and pride in being Black. She encourages everyone to take pride in who you are. The world may count you out time and time again, but as long as you count yourself in, that’s all that matters. Show up and do what needs to be done to stand out.