Ohio Human Trafficking 2017 NBC4i Interview


Human Trafficking Awareness

Human Trafficking Awareness

Ohio Human Trafficking Awareness Day at the Ohio StateHouse was more than amazing. Organized by State Representative Teresa Fedor, this event brought together advocates, survivors, educators, students and more. I was especially honored to be interviewed by Elyse Chengery of NBC4i



Interview on Milwaukee’s Morning Blend w/ Dr. E

Check out my interview on Milwaukee’s Morning Blend 

PHD to Ph.D. @ U of Wisconsin Stevens Point


Professor Dishes Out Emotion at Soul Food Dinner

Posted by: Emily Showers February 26, 2015

Dr. Elaine Richardson went from living in the ghetto to receiving her Ph.D from Michigan State University.

Richardson specializes in linguistic education and human ecology at Ohio State University and is an expert in linguistic diversity. At the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point Black Student Union’s 22nd Annual Soul Food Dinner, Richardson delivered an emotional account of events that lead up to her passion for linguistic diversity.

Richardson wrote PHD to Ph.D: How Education Saved my Life” which she described as an urban educational memoir. PHD is slang for,”poor ho on dope.”

Richardson's book entitled "PHD to Ph.D: How Education Saved My Life." Photo courtesy of amazon.com.

Richardson’s book entitled “PHD to Ph.D: How Education Saved My Life.” Photo courtesy of amazon.com.

“My book talks about how I was addicted to street life, and how I could have died a million times,” Richardson said.

Between age 13 and 24, Richardson worked with four different pimps and felt like she could not escape street life.

In her early twenties, Richardson was arrested over 200 times. Her life began to change through involvement with Project Second Chance, an organization which helped sexually exploited girls and women get off the streets and receive an education.

Richardson was with the program, but failed many times to do what she was told in order to succeed. It was not until Richardson’s second child was born, she realized she had change.

“I didn’t want to go back to that life,” Richardson said. “I felt like I was going to get killed or kill myself.”

When Richardson enrolled at Cleveland State University, she began to discover her culture because she learned about Creole language and black dialect. She gained confidence and before she knew it, she received A’s in her classes, tutored students with black and Asian dialects and was graduating.

Richardson became empowered and knew she was going to make an impact in people’s lives. After graduation, she continued to grow and discovered her own self-worth through working with Dr. Geneva Smitherman, director of the African American Language and Literacy Program at Michigan State University.

Dr. Elaine Richardson. Photo courtesy of syracuse.com

Dr. Elaine Richardson. Photo courtesy of syracuse.com

Richardson wrote her memoir because she knew many people who did not believe in their own self-worth and thought an education was unobtainable.

Dr. Mary Weems, Richardson’s colleague and former Poet Laureate of Cleveland Hights, cried when she read the manuscript.

“I thought of all the women I’d encountered during my life who’d died there,” Weems said. “As one of the first to read the manuscript, I knew immediately, not only did this book belong out in the world, but that once it was, it would change lives.”

Richardson has plenty of advice for students. She said a person must invest in themselves to reach their full potential.

“What I mean by that is you got to fill your head with good thoughts about yourself,” Richardson said.

Investing in oneself includes not being surrounded by negative people. Richardson advocated losing self-hating or limiting thoughts and replacing them with a passion.

“You got to reprogram your mind,” Richardson said. “Learn as much as you can about the things you love that motivate you.”

Rika Calvin, president of the Black Student Union, heard about Richardson through her adviser Madam Beverley David who attended Richardson’s talks.

“I feel like students of every ethnicity and background can relate to her,” Calvin said.

Akua Duku, Richardson’s colleague and associate professor at Arizona State University, said Richardson has an almost spiritual understanding of the individuals she interacts with.

“She has the insights of the troubles that people can experience, and how they can overcome them,” Duku said.

Richardson has spoken at prisons, high schools, women’s groups and human trafficking conferences. She said it is rewarding because it touches the attendees souls.

“I’m telling my story to all kinds of people who may not have been in human trafficking, may not be black, may not be a woman, may not have been raped or on drugs,” Richardson said. “But, there’s something deeper, something spiritual, that causes pain and growth in our spirits that links our stories together.”


Emily Showers

Pointlife Editor


Interview w/ 92Q Baltimore DJ KiKi Brown


One On One w/ Dr. Elaine Richardson [Audio]

14SaturdayFeb 2015

Featured Image -- 871

I received an email from fellow RadioChickRocks alum, media chick, Felicia Haney (BeechStreet) asking if I would be available for an interview with a woman she thought was amazing and inspiring. Her name is Dr. Elaine Richardson and she is currently promoting her third book “PHD to Ph.D: How Education Saved My Life” The title is Po Ho on Dope, and I knew I just had to book this woman!

What was her story? Why did she want to reveal so much? How did she get a PhD AFTER recovering and surviving from drug abuse, prostitution and rape? Oh yeah! I needed to talk to this chick!

I have to say, this was one of the most interestingly funny and touching interview that I ever had in my professional career.

Dr. Elaine Richardson or Dr. “E” is phenomenal and I’m so honored to have had the opportunity to speak to her and get her view on the issues on sex trafficking, prostitution, drug use and growing up in the mean streets of Cleveland, raising two daughters and herself at the same time.


Survivor Story

Sexual exploitation survivor shares story of self discovery
By Aimee Plante
February 12, 2015 at 11:24 pm
Motivational speaker and educational consultant Elaine Richardson told students at the West campus of her experiences as a prostitute and finding herself through education, with the hope of inspiring viewers to overcome the adversity in their lives.

Richardson has performed her story, which she calls “PHD (Poe Hoe on Dope) to Ph.D.: How Education Saved My Life,” across the country for more than two years. She said she wants to empower those who have lost hope.

“I think it’s important for people to … break that stereotype of who’s educated and who’s worthy,” she said. “All people should have a chance at life and to fulfill their dreams.”

Through her poverty-stricken childhood and rape, Richardson said she became susceptible to abuse, sexual exploitation and drug addiction.

“Pimps run on three things: ignorance, low self-esteem and a need to be loved,” she said. “And I had all three in spades.”

Since her recovery, Richardson earned a Ph.D. in English and applied linguistics from Michigan State University and published three books. College enrollment provided her the tools necessary to find herself, she said.

“(Education) was my journey to finding who I am and where I came from,” she said. “Not knowing who you are is a part of low self-esteem because, if you don’t know who you are, you don’t value who you are. It was my journey to valuing who I was.”

Richardson said her show’s title thus accurately portrays her journey from a prostitute to a doctor.

“People control you and oppress you by tagging you to this sexual label, so I wanted to break that (assumption),” she said. “You still got to see the humanity of the person, so the title of my story isn’t a contradiction. It’s my journey.”

Niko Popovich, a sociology and English junior who attended the event, said Richardson’s performance taught there is more to a first impression.

“When you meet someone, they can have so much going on in their life,” he said. “Those words that come to your mind when you meet them, that has nothing to do with them as a person. You need to take the second thought because they can have a whole past.”

International Initiatives director Duku Anokye met Richardson through academic circles nearly 20 years ago and brought her motivational performance to ASU to inspire students, she said.

“Her story is very powerful, and having read it and now seen it, it makes it even more powerful,” she said. “Her whole mission in life is to help the people who are in the position that she was in.”

Anokye said she hopes ASU students feel assured by Richardson’s story.

“Take, for example, the students at West campus,” she said. “There are many from the working class, or are first generation, and they don’t always have the motivation or believe in themselves. Her story tells you to believe in yourself and that you can be what you want to be.”

Richardson’s performance should generate dialogue between academics and students, Anokye said.

“I hope we continue this conversation,” she said. “We meet at so many angles to support our students and give them a feeling that they can do it. There are people here to mentor them, be the examples for them and just to continue that work.”

Reach the reporter at aplante@asu.edu or follow @aimeenplante on Twitter.

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