Year: 1888
School: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

In 1888, Robert Taylor became the first black student ever admitted to MIT. It's an incredible feat in itself, and his stellar academic record while enrolled only makes it more impressive. Records show that Taylor rounded out his college years near the top of his class, with the North Carolina native earning honors in trigonometry, architectural history, differential calculus, and applied mechanics. He never failed a course and graduated in exactly four years.

The MIT scholar went on build a college of his own, serving as the primary architect of Booker T. Washington's Tuskegee institute. A ground breaker in more ways than one.