Virtual TSU Financial Aid Workshops Help New College Students Tap into Funding Resources

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – If you need money for college, one of the most important forms to complete is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. Tennessee State University is making the process easier for prospective students and their parents.

President Glenda Glover speaks via Zoom to students and parents participating in the Virtual FAFSA Hour. (TSU Media Relations)

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the university is holding a series of virtual workshops to meet students where they are and walk them through what can sometimes be an overwhelming task.

“Virtual FAFSA Hour” allows new admitted students who have not done a FAFSA, and those who have not completed their financial aid file, to directly interact with financial aid counselors for assistance. The virtual workshop is also open to continuing students who have not renewed their FAFSA.

“This was really nice and different,” said Nicole Reese, who joined the call from her living room in Park Ford, Illinois, with her incoming freshman son, Gabriel Reese. Nicole has been through financial aid offices before with an older son, but “the experience was nothing like TSU.”

Tyeisha Weeks, who wants to study physical therapy, calls with a question from her bedroom in Chicago. (TSU Media Relations)

“We got a chance to sit face-to-face with these wonderful people, they were patient and knew what they were doing, we got all of our questions answered, and we got a chance to hear the president of the university. I am ready for my child to come to TSU.”

Gabriel agreed. “I do like TSU,” said the graduating senior from Rich East High School, who visited TSU several times when a cousin attended the university. “I thought their answers were very thorough and they were extremely helpful. I am very excited.”

Dr. Angela Bryant, Assistant Vice President for Financial Aid, responds to calls on the Virtual FAFSA Hour. (TSU Media Relations)

With a goal of reaching about 3,000 prospective students about completing their financial aid requirements, organizers say a stream of students and parents are calling in and taking advantage of the Virtual FAFSA Hour, which is held for one hour twice a day over four days.

“Welcome to TSU, and good afternoon. I am thrilled and just so happy to greet all of you new TSU students who plan on coming this fall,” said TSU President Glenda Glover, who spoke via Zoom. “We just can’t wait to receive you with open arms. Right now, we are coming to you virtually. I know that there are some issues or questions concerning FAFSA. We are here to answer those questions.”

Financial aid officials said the Virtual FAFSA Hour, first of its kind at TSU, is intended to ensure that qualified students have access to all available funding sources, while remaining safe and secure in their home with their families amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In our efforts to keep everyone safe and adhering to the call to social distancing, it is a benefit for all of us to participate in the virtual opportunities TSU is offering,” said Dr. Angela Bryant, assistant vice president for financial aid. “With regard to financial aid specifically, what better way to  secure funding for fall 2021 than to take advantage of the FAFSA Hour. We are here to help these students meet their financial needs for school.”

 In addition to federal loan and assistance programs, TSU offers many different avenues of financial help to prospective students, including state, local and institutional grants or scholarship opportunities. These include the 250-Mile Radius Tuition Rate for students from high schools in surrounding states, the HOPE scholarship for Tennessee residents, the Academic High Achiever Scholarship, the TSU Academic Work Scholarship, the TSU Building Bridge Grant, and several others.

Diamond Parish, of Nashville, is an architectural engineering major and a returning freshman. She called in from her bedroom to resolve issues with her “TSU account.”

“In no time my issued was resolved, I got the answer I wanted,” said Parish, adding that she saw “very little” difference between her in-person experience in the financial aid office and the virtual call-in. “The way they were doing it, it felt like I was right next to them.”

Like Parish, Tyeisha Weeks, from Chicago, who wants to study physical therapy, also called in to the Virtual FAFSA Hour from her bedroom.  She had already sent in her form but was following up to make sure everything was in order. She was not disappointed.

“They were just so helpful,” said Weeks, a graduating senior from John Marshall Metropolitan High School in Chicago, who heard about TSU from alumni and from newspapers. “Everybody was very nice. They took us through the steps and they were very patient.”

Terrance Izzard, associate vice president for admissions and recruitment, said the series of virtual FAFSA workshops was intended to make it easy for students in the midst of travel restrictions.

“We are excited about you coming to Tennessee State University,” he told callers. “Our team in enrollment and financial aid work closely together to make sure we are here so you don’t get stuck in the process. We want to let you know that you are our priority.”

The Offices of Enrollment Management and Financial Aid have planned several other virtual workshops to help ease students’ transition during this pandemic.

For more information on financial aid at TSU, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/financial_aid/

Featured Photo: Nicole Reese, left, and her son Gabriel Reese call in from Park Ford, Illinois.

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU and Mt. Zion cut hunger for 10,000 Nashville families hit hardest by COVID-19 with grant from Oprah Winfrey Charitable Foundation

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Over 10,000 Nashville families can put more food on their tables today because of a generous grant donation from the Oprah Winfrey Charitable Foundation. The funds were made available through a partnership between Tennessee State University and Mt. Zion Baptist Church that grew out of Ms. Winfrey’s strong desire to help Nashville. 

Ms. Winfrey, a Big Blue alum, said TSU President Glenda Glover and Bishop Joseph Warren Walker III of Mt. Zion were recommended to her because of their great work in the community. Particularly in the case of President Glover, Ms. Winfrey said representatives with Apple suggested she connect with Glover and TSU, which has a successful coding partnership with Apple.

The tech giant is also in partnership with Ms. Winfrey, who recently spoke with local and national print outlets during a Zoom meeting to announce the $2 million grant to TSU and Mt. Zion to help the families in need.

“Everybody was already connected. I felt like I was in good hands,” said Ms. Winfrey, adding that she brainstormed with Glover and Walker on how to get help “directly to the people.”

“I was honored to receive Ms. Winfrey’s call, and even more touched by her concern for underserved communities in her home city of Nashville deeply impacted by COVID-19,” said Glover, who was a classmate of Ms. Winfrey. “A vast majority of the families benefitting are single heads of households experiencing job loss or a substantial cut in hours. The university, along with Mt. Zion, is extremely proud to have assisted with such a monumental humanitarian effort with our alumna, Ms. Winfrey.” 

“We are deeply grateful to Ms. Winfrey, who has such a heart for Nashville and asked us to help her develop a method for getting relief to the most vulnerable people as fast as possible,” said Walker. “In response, we convened an extensive network of religious, civic and business leaders who have direct knowledge of individuals and families in this city whose lives have been devastated by the confluence of disasters that have hit Nashville in 2020.” 

NashvilleNurtures, the collaboration between TSU and Mt. Zion, brought together a coalition of African-American churches and community organizations to assist in helping the city’s most at need individuals. In addition to the coronavirus, a tornado that struck parts of Nashville near TSU in early March left many families homeless. 

One beneficiary is LaWanda Jackson. She said the gift card was “truly a blessing” because her work hours had been reduced and she was still displaced by the tornado. “I honestly did not know what my next meal was going to be,” said Jackson. “The card was right on time. I’m thankful to everyone who played a part in me getting it.” 

Single mom Janice Easley was overjoyed to receive the $200 Kroger gift card. The mom of six and housekeeper said her hours had been cut as well, and she worried about having enough food available with her children out of school. 

“I was down to my last food and didn’t have anything,” said Easley. “I thank Ms. Oprah Winfrey. She didn’t have to do it but you came through. It’s a blessing.” 

Glover said, “The gratitude and appreciation expressed to Ms. Winfrey, TSU and Mt. Zion has been overwhelming. Along with single parents, we’ve been able to help people who are crucial to the city’s tourism industry; the men and women that wait tables, hotel check-in, and small business owners suffering financial loss. As a college president, I see first-hand how this virus has affected every aspect of daily living, financial, operational and of course educational.” 

Ms. Winfrey said she was compelled to help because of how African-American communities are being disproportionally affected by the virus. She voiced her concern about the lack of access to healthcare, leading to a larger number of deaths and the economic toll on communities of color.

“The reason I’m talking about it is because there is going to be a need for people of means to step up, and you got those people right here in Nashville,” said Ms. Winfrey. “I mean, this thing is not going away. Even when the virus is gone.”

Agreeing with Winfrey, Glover said it was important that TSU continue to help families as they face uncertain futures due to the devastating impact of the virus and that’s being done with the newly created COVID-19 Academy at the university.

“TSU has established the COVID-19 Academy to continue outreach to the Nashville community as it recovers from the pandemic,” said Glover. “The academy will work to bridge the health care disparity for people of color that experts say will have a lasting impact for generations to come through a holistic approach combining access to care, human services and education.” 

The grant to NashvilleNurtures was a part of the Oprah Winfrey Charitable Foundation’s $12 million COVID-19 Relief Fund. The grants support organizations in Ms. Winfrey’s “home cities” of Nashville, TN; Chicago, IL; Milwaukee, WI; Baltimore; and Kosciusko, MS that are helping underserved communities currently experiencing a disproportionate impact from the pandemic.

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU Launches Nation’s first COVID-19 Academy to continue support and recovery for Nashville families

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) –  Tennessee State University has long-term plans to continue outreach to Nashville families, especially underserved communities hit hardest from the novel coronavirus with the newly established COVID-19 Academy.  

President Glenda Glover

“TSU has established the COVID-19 Academy to continue efforts to help the Nashville community as it recovers from the pandemic,” says TSU President Glenda Glover. “The academy will work to bridge the health care disparity for people of color that experts say will have a lasting impact for generations to come. This is being done through a holistic approach combining access to care, human services and education.” 

Glover says the academy will connect residents with health services, such as telehealth and telemedicine providers, food banks and pantries, as well as employment and educational resources. For its online and certificate learning component, the COVID-19 Academy will conduct webinars on outreach, community gardening and preparedness, workforce development, entrepreneurship and small business development, and continuing education for healthcare individuals. 

The Academy will also maintain a strong link with Nashville Nurtures, a food resources partnership between TSU and Mount Zion Baptist Church, under the auspices of the Oprah Winfrey Foundation, to serve the needs of the community.

Dr. Ronald Barredo

TSU alumna Oprah Winfrey recently awarded a $2 million grant to NashvilleNurtures through her charitable foundation to provide immediate relief to families needing food.

Ms. Winfrey said she was compelled to help because of how African-American communities are being disproportionally affected by the virus. She voiced her concern about the lack of access to healthcare, leading to a larger number of deaths and the economic toll on communities of color.

“The reason I’m talking about it is because there is going to be a need for people of means to step up, and you got those people right here in Nashville,” said Ms. Winfrey. “I mean, this thing is not going away. Even when the virus is gone.”

Agreeing with Winfrey, Glover said it was important that TSU continue to help families as they face uncertain futures due to the devastating impact of the virus and that’s being done with the newly created COVID-19 Academy at the university.

Dr. Ronald Barredo, dean of the College of Health Sciences and a member of the university’s task force on COVID-19, says the academy, which was launched recently, serves as an institutional response to the current pandemic.

“Among its various components, the Academy provides up-to-date information about the coronavirus and links not only to the metropolitan and Tennessee state governments, but also to pandemic-related information from recognized authorities and national agencies,” says Barredo.

Dr. Veronica Oates

Through the Department of Human Sciences in the College of Agriculture, the Academy provides links to resources in nutrition education and food safety, child development and parenting, emergency preparedness, youth development, community gardening and faith-based initiatives.

According to Dr. Veronica Oates, interim chair of the Department of Human Sciences and a member of the task force, in addition to child development and family care, food handling and management is another key area of emphasis for the Academy. 

“The idea is for restaurants and people who are in food service to actually be able to implement some of the new post-COVID-19 requirements and suggestions,” says Oates. “We could provide the type of expertise or consultation to help them with how they can actually run their businesses and make sure that they are safeguarding their employees and the public.”

Rita Fleming, assistant professor and extension specialist, adds that at a time when many Americans are worried about their ability to afford food or groceries due to the pandemic, the academy, through the TSU extension services, can help people stretch their food budget.

“Tennessee State Cooperative Extension has always been dedicated to serving current and future needs of Tennesseans by providing educational information and programs that safeguard health, increase livelihood, and enhance the well-being of community needs, “ says Fleming, a task force member.

Workforce development, another key part of the COVID-19 Academy’s certificate learning component, will use available resources at the university, such as the Career Development Center, and in the community to help meet the skills and employment needs of the people.

“The Career Development Center recognizes the unique employment needs of all individuals,” says Antoinette Hargrove Duke, associate director of the center.  “We will serve as a gateway to offer career service resources to help assist in exploring different career options during these challenging and uncertain times.”

For more information on the COVID-19 Academy at Tennessee State University, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/covid19academy/educationalresources.aspx

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU planning to start classes in the fall, created task force for additional safety measures and best practices

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is planning to start classes in the fall, but under additional safety protocols to protect the public health and safety of its students and employees.

In addition to a Pandemic Task Force that currently meets every day to address COVID-19 related issues, TSU President Glenda Glover is appointing a Fall Course Delivery Task Force to help develop the best strategy for classes this fall.

“We are evaluating and developing operational safety measures, best practices, and academic related logistical options to prepare for the return of students in the fall with the focus on the health and safety of the campus community,” President Glover said recently in a correspondence with TSU faculty and staff.  

“These measures will include the ongoing cleaning of campus facilities, the use of larger classrooms and hybrid in-person and online course presentations, and the implementation of appropriate social distancing standards.”

While the plan is to open as planned for the fall, TSU officials said that will change if the threat of COVID-19 resurfaces.

Meanwhile, like most higher education institutions across the country, TSU’s students completed the semester online and the majority of the university’s employees continue to work remotely.

TSU has also postponed or cancelled all in-person events until further notice. Several events are occurring virtually as arranged by the respective divisions of the university.

Whether students are on campus or not, TSU has taken steps to meet their needs. For those students who needed digital devices to complete their online coursework for the semester and summer, the university provided them with more than 40 laptops and tablets.

Last month, TSU students received housing and meal refunds, and the university is currently using millions of federal dollars to help with student expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to the pandemic. The university has distributed the funds as emergency financial aid grants to students.

Graduate students will receive a one-time grant of $500. Undergraduate students who are not PELL Grant eligible will receive $600, and undergraduate students who are PELL eligible will receive $800. 

TSU students say they appreciate the university’s effort to accommodate them, especially their instructors, but they acknowledge the distance learning has been challenging because of the absence of things like face to face interaction with their instructors. 

“We were able to go to their office, now it’s mainly emails,” says Rekha Berry, a senior from Mobile, Alabama, majoring in history and political science. “I definitely miss the face to face with instructors.”

Nevertheless, they are finding ways to adjust. For Treveon Hayes of Memphis, Tennessee, who has two to four classes a day, he practices better time management.

“After class, I give myself about five minutes to use the restroom, grab a snack, then get right back to class,” adds Hayes, an elementary education major. “I have to time manage myself. The work has to be done. No excuses.”

Jakori Hollinger, a music education major from Montgomery, Alabama, says the lack of in-person instruction has caused him to do more reading and research in order to understand certain concepts.

“Whereas, if I was sitting in front of them, they could just show me how to do it,” says Hollinger, “I could just pick it up and it would be no issue.”

However, despite the circumstances, he lauded TSU’s faculty and staff for “working with students to make this transition as easy as possible.”

For more on campus operations affected by the coronavirus, and student information, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/covid19.

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

With more than 8,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU Offering Full Scholarships to High School, Community College Graduates Majoring in Agricultural Sciences

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is making college more affordable for high school and community college graduates looking to major in food and agricultural sciences.  The College of Agriculture will use its portion of a $14 million federal grant to provide full and partial scholarships to undergraduate students.

The funding is made possible through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s 1890 Scholarship Program, authorized by the 2018 Farm Bill. 

TSU President Glenda Glover says the University is extremely pleased to receive this funding that comes at a critical time for students.  

“Many students and their families have incurred additional expenses because of COVID-19, and this funding will allow us to retain and bring academically talented students to the university to be a part of our outstanding agriculture programs,” says President Glover. 

“We are thankful to Congress for providing funding to TSU, and particularly Congressman David Scott, the 1890 scholarship bill sponsor; the Tennessee Congressional Delegation, and U.S. Agricultural Secretary Sonny Perdue for making this happen.” 

TSU’s portion of the funding is approximately $752,000. Dr. Chandra Reddy, dean of TSU’s College of Agriculture, says this will fund full-ride scholarships for at least 20 freshmen and community college graduates per year for the next four years. 

USDA 1890 Scholar Kristin Day

“Food supply and security are major concerns for our nation right now, and the College of Agriculture has nationally recognized programs, and now these scholarship dollars help students wanting to pursue degrees in these areas,” says Dr. Reddy.  

“We are excited about this opportunity to recruit and fund outstanding young people in agriculture.” 

Senior Kristin Day, a USDA 1890 Scholar, says more than anything the scholarship provides students financial relief so they can focus on completing their degree.

“It helps relieve the burden of funding for college, and gives you an opportunity to just focus on your school work and developing your passion,” says Day, an agricultural sciences major from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. “It’s a great program that students need to take advantage of.”

Jonathan Alford, an agricultural sciences major and also an USDA 1890 Scholar at TSU, agrees. 

“The scholarship not only allows students to enhance their skills and learn new things about agriculture, but get an even better understanding of why it’s needed in the world,” says Alford, a junior from Nashville. 

Dr. De’Etra Young is interim associate dean of academics and land-grant programs in TSU’s College of Agriculture. She says the scholarships help create a pipeline of outstanding workers for the global workforce.

USDA 1890 Scholar Jonathan Alford

“Our scholarship program seeks to encourage students to pursue and complete baccalaureate degrees in the food and agricultural sciences and related fields,” says Young. “This will lead to a highly-skilled food and agricultural systems workforce.” 

Undergraduate students, with the required GPA, must pursue degrees in the following areas: Agribusiness, Agriculture Leadership, Education and Communication (ALEC), Biotechnology, Environmental Sciences, Food and Animal Sciences, and Food and Nutritional Sciences (Dietetics).

To learn more about TSU’s College of Agriculture, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/agriculture/

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

With more than 8,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU provides emergency grants to students from CARES Act funding

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University will use $7.2 million in federal aid to help students and support institutional needs as a result of COVID-19.  

The funds are being provided to TSU as part of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The university has received $3.6 million, the first half of the allocation, which is specifically for student expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to the pandemic. The university has distributed the funds as emergency financial aid grants to students. The remaining amount will be released later and is reserved for institutional use to cover costs associated with significant changes due to the coronavirus.

Human Performance and Sports Science major Maddison Metcalf says she will use the money to enroll in summer school. Metcalf received her emergency funds on Monday.

“This was unexpected, but very much needed,” says Metcalf, a rising TSU senior. “I had an old laptop and the online class load added more wear and tear to the device. I used the money saved for summer school to help me get another one.” 

Fellow rising TSU senior Matthew Benton is putting his money away for the upcoming semester. “The funds went directly into my savings to help me pay for the fall semester,” says Benton. The business major from Atlanta adds that he wants to make sure all expenses are covered for his final year at TSU.

“The university is attempting to assist as many students as possible that have been impacted by Covid-19,” says Chase, TSU’s vice president of business and finance. 

“Qualifying undergraduate students, graduate students, PELL eligible students, and those experiencing hardships as a result of the pandemic will receive financial support.”

The funds will help students cover “those unplanned expenses,” adds Chase, that have occurred as a result of the pandemic. 

Graduate students will receive a one-time grant of $500. Undergraduate students who are not PELL Grant eligible will receive $600, and undergraduate students who are PELL eligible will receive $800. 

This funding is separate from refunds or financial aid students have received from the university. Last month, TSU students received housing and meal refunds.  

“Each student has her or his own unique challenges as a result of Covid-19,” says Chase. “These funds are flexible and allows them to be used in a way that best suits the students’ individual needs.”

Terrence Izzard, associate vice president of admissions and recruitment at TSU, says “finances play a major role in a student’s ability to enroll, persist, and graduate from college.” 

“TSU is committed to doing all we can to help students remain in school,” says Izzard. “Funding from the CARES Act is certainly helping us keep talented students enrolled.” 

The university will use the second half of the allocation to enhance online learning and other expenses associated with new campus operation measures implemented because of COVID-19. Summer sessions are 100 percent online. They started May 4 and run through August 6.

For more on campus operations affected by the coronavirus, and student information, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/covid19.

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

With more than 8,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU Nursing Graduates On The Front Line In The Fight Against COVID-19

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University nursing school graduates are among the thousands of healthcare workers around the country responding to the influx of patients needing medical care because of the COVID-19 pandemic. They’re conducting screenings, communicating to the families, and above all, caring for the critically ill.

TSU nursing graduate Akelah Earl is one of those on the front line. She is a registered nurse at the University of Chicago Medical Center and works 13 to14 hour shifts – sometimes for six nights straight. She specializes in labor and delivery. Since the outbreak, Earl has been caring for mothers in labor who test positive for COVID-19.

Nursing supervisor Meghan Lambert-Agnew

“It has been very difficult,” says the 2015 graduate of the TSU BSN program. “Due to this pandemic, they (mothers) are not allowed to have the support that they may normally have.” 

The Chicago native says adding to the difficulty is having to work with limited resources to meet the growing demand.

“Working with limited PPE (personal protective equipment) has been very hard but we’re getting through it,” Earl says. According to the Chicago Tribune, the city continues to report the highest rate of coronavirus cases and deaths in Illinois, with a number of healthcare workers among the victims.

Closer to home in rural Bolivar, Tennessee, Meghan Lambert-Agnew is the nursing supervisor at the Hardeman County Health Department.  The TSU School of Nursing graduate is responsible for conducting all COVID-19 screening and testing for the entire county. Lambert-Agnew echoes the same sentiments as Earl regarding limited supplies to fight this unprecedented medical crisis.

“My patients include those with  private doctors that can’t afford to pay for the test, coupled with those we see on public assistance, and it puts a strain on supplies when we don’t have enough to meet the demands,” says the Tennessee native.

“There is no turning anyone away. Once you run out of testing or screening supplies, who knows when you will get more.  My commitment is to provide the best care and education awareness to the people I see every day despite my working circumstances.”

Donned in a full length gown, face shield, N-95 respiratory mask, with a surgical mask on top of that and gloves, Lambert-Agnew adds she’s had to be resourceful going through this pandemic and that TSU prepared her with the skills to deal with the challenges.

Dr. Maria Revell, interim executive director of the TSU School of Nursing says students are educated to function in a world of change.

“They are equipped to exhibit compassion in the face of adversity while administering safe patient-centered care,” says Dr. Revell.   

“As we endure the most unprecedented time in the lives of many, our graduates meet the challenge to administer physiological and psychological care and comfort.”

The university is currently accepting application for the fall into the traditional BSN program. Program Director Dr. Pinky Noble-Britton says the TSU School of Nursing has a rich tradition of producing nurses who adapt seamlessly into the nursing workforce and are true life-long learners. 

“Our program provides essential classroom and clinical experiences that equip our nursing students to care for a diverse clientele and collaborate with all members of the health care team,” states Dr. Noble-Britton.

At Atlanta’s Grady Memorial Hospital, a key intake center for the growing coronavirus spread in Georgia, Ashlee N. Everette, another graduate of the TSU BNS program, is on the front line. She is a charge nurse in the NICU, or newborn intensive care unit at Grady. She says coping with changes in regulation in patient care since the pandemic has been the most difficult. As a supervisor, she wants to do more, but she’s limited.

“Because of the impact of COVID-19, we have terminated all visitation rights to parents, and we have to wear N-95 masks during patient care,” says Everett, an Atlanta native, who also graduated in 2015. 

“Parents are only allowed to see their infants through an iPhone FaceTime call. The father of the newborn is not allowed into the delivery room, and it pains me, but we have to do it to prevent the spread.”

As the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases accelerates in the United States, unsung heroes on the front lines of the health care response have found themselves in an unprecedented position.

“As a nurse, not being able to have control of situations, having to watch chaos spiral with no real guidance, understanding, and predictability is one of the hardest things for any nurse to cope with,” adds Everett.

Amy Oaks-Smith, an OB float nurse at St. Thomas Midtown Hospital in Nashville, is married with four children ages 1-13. Her husband, Carlos, a firefighter, is also an EMT, or emergency medical technician, who works 24-hour shifts. Amy works 12-hour shifts. But they find a way to balance work and family.

“Many times, when he is coming in, I am going out,” says Amy. “But our work is our passion, so we go out and make sure we are helping where we can.”

As a nurse in the NICU, Amy says she is not directly involved with COVID-19 work, but they must make sure everyone coming in her unit is properly screened, temperature checked, and adequately “gowned and gloved.”

“I am the nurse that takes care of babies when they are born – look them over to make sure they are OK and breathing and acting the way they should,” says Amy, also a member of the TSU Class of 2015.

All of these TSU graduate believe their success would not have been possible without the preparation they received from TSU.

“TSU made me well prepared to become a nurse,” says Earl, who is pursuing her master’s degree at Chamberlain University. “One thing each professor I encountered taught me was to be fearless and compassionate no matter what I am facing.”

Everett adds, “When we took our oaths and were pinned as nurses in 2015, we would have never predicted this pandemic and its impact in healthcare. But TSU prepared me well and I am grateful.”

Oaks-Smith agrees.

“At TSU, our clinicals really set us up for success.”

Dr. Revell adds, “The BSN program at TSU is one steeped in tradition and pride. We provide a connection to various cultures and offer a diverse student experience. We facilitate acquisition of the skillset and education needed for success in the nursing profession.” 

For information on the TSU School of Nursing, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/nursing/

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State UniversityFounded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU’s World-Renowned Aristocrat of Bands Names New Leaders as Group Prepares for 2021 Tournament of Roses

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – As the Tennessee State University Aristocrat of Bands prepares for its historic appearance in the Tournament of Roses in January, the marching band has announced a new lineup of drum majors.

Julien Dooley, the only returning drum major, will lead the “Fantastic 4” in 2020-2021. (Submitted photo)

The new “Fantastic 4,” as they are called, were announced at the AOB’s recent virtual banquet, which also recognized outgoing drum majors who are part of the 2020 TSU graduating class. Julian Dooley, a senior communications major from Decatur, Georgia, who will lead the new Fantastic 4, is the only returning member. Joining him are Justen Ramsey, rising junior, health science, from Atlanta; Travion  Crutcher, rising junior , mechanical engineering, from Huntsville, Alabama; and Cameron Brown, senior, mass communications major from Birmingham, Alabama.

Dr. Reginald McDonald, TSU’s director of bands, congratulated the new Fantastic 4, and paid special tribute to the outgoing members for their accomplishments and service to the university.

“I thank you for your love, service, hard work, dedication and loyalty to the Fantastic 4, the Aristocrat of Bands and Tennessee State University,” McDonald said. “Congratulations on your accomplishment in earning your degrees. We wish you the very best in all of your future endeavors.”

Justin Ramsey, Drum Major No. 2

 The outgoing drum majors, who will receive their bachelor’s degrees in various disciplines at the August 1 commencement ceremonies are Hassan Moody, from Decatur, Georgia, business administration; Cole Gilbert, from Jonesboro, Georgia, health science; and Xavier Ellis, from Stone Mountain, Georgia, criminal Justice.

At the virtual banquet, the AOB also announced captains for the Sophisticated Ladies, Royal Elegance, and section leaders for the instrumentalist.

In March, the world-renowned AOB received official invitation to participate in the 2021 Rose Bowl Parade on Jan. 1 in Pasadena, California. Dr. Robert B. Miller, president and chairman of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses, came to TSU to personally present the band with the official tournament flag and invitation.

Travion Crutcher, Drum Major No.3

The AOB will be one of only four university bands nationwide to participate in the parade, with a domestic television audience of more than 38 million.

“Only the best of the best are invited  and the Aristocrat of Bands is one of them,” Miller said in the Gentry Complex, amid thunderous cheers from university officials, relatives, former band members, and Mr. and Miss TSU and their royal court.

Cailyn Sparks, a member of the AOB Sophisticated Ladies Dance Line, called the Rose Bowl Parade invitation “an opportunity of a life time.”

“I am glad my mom and dad and maybe some other family members will be there,” said Sparks, a junior elementary education major from Phenix City, Alabama, who will be going to California for the first time. “I am extremely excited about going to the Rose Bowl and excited to be there with my family.”

Cameron Brown, Drum Major No. 4

McDonald added, “If you know anything about parades in this country, the Tournament of Roses Parade and the Macy’s Parade are numbers one and two,” he said. “To have either one of those parades on your performance as a portfolio, says a lot about your band program.”

In addition to the Tournament of Roses invitation, receiving the Best Band ranking, and a record ninth appearance at Honda Battle of the Bands Invitational, the AOB is enjoying a stellar year of achievements and accolades. In April 2019, during the NFL Draft in the Music City, the AOB were featured on the nationally syndicated ESPN sports talk show, First Take; the band received a shout out from pop star Lizzo for the band’s rendition of her “Truth Hurts” medley. In January 2019, percussionists from the band performed in the Rose Parade. They were also featured performers at the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons’ 2019 home opener.

For more information on the AOB, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/aristocratofbands/

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

With more than 8,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

Congratulations Class of 2020

Congratulations to the nearly 700 Tennessee State University undergraduates and graduates! Wishing you continued success as you showcase TSU’s Big Blue excellence to the world. Class of 2020: 

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

With more than 8,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU committed to seeing students succeed during pandemic by providing laptops to those in need

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is making sure students have the digital devices they need to complete their coursework online as a result of COVID-19.

On March 16, TSU was the first public university in Tennessee to transition to all online classes because of the coronavirus. TSU officials checked with faculty to find out which students needed devices – like laptops and tablets – to be able to successfully work remotely.

Laptops arrive at TSU to be distributed to students. (Submitted photo).

“The impact of COVID-19 challenged us to reflect on student learning and the efforts of us all to maintain quality in the midst of a natural event,” said Dr. Alisa Mosley, interim vice president for academic affairs at TSU. “Faculty are grateful that we were able to provide these devices for use in their courses. We received requests from students in all majors and we addressed them.”

TSU freshman Nakailah Shields-Robinson said the laptop she received has been very useful. She said she wasn’t sure what she was going to do when her computer crashed.

“I have an iPad, but that’s not really good either,” said Shields-Robinson, a criminal justice major from St. Louis, Missouri. “So, when the laptop came, it’s been helping me write my papers. I have a five-page paper that’s coming up, and I probably wouldn’t have been able to do that on the iPad.”

Junior Joyvon Dickerson, a human performance and sports science major from Chicago, agreed.

“It’s kind of hard trying to write a five-page paper off your phone,” said Dickerson, who also received a laptop. “It’s nice to be at a school that cares about its students in this way.” 

Dr. Robbie Melton, TSU’s associate vice president for Smart Technology and Innovation, said once the devices were shipped, “we followed up to give them personalized tutoring on how to use the device.”  

“We had someone personally call them and walk them through, as well as help them with their online courses,” added Melton.

She said the university received donations to purchase more than 20 laptops and 20 tablets. One of the contributions was $25,000 from Fifth Third Bank.

 “To be competitive, both academically and for future work, they’ve got to have a digital device,” said Hosetta Coleman, senior vice president, university relations at Fifth Third Bank. “You look at our world, this whole virtual paradigm. If our communities are not ready for a digital environment, they have one more factor that makes them less competitive against others.”

Mosley said the university plans to “maintain this connection to technology in the future.”

“We moved to e-textbooks for general education in 2015 and we anticipate our work with open educational resources (OER) will increase,” said Mosley. “Our students will need devices as a part of the new landscape for their learning and careers.”

TSU has 23 distance education undergraduate and graduate programs and will offer most of the classes online this summer. Summer sessions are scheduled to begin in late May, early June. To learn more about the university’s online courses, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/online/.

For more on campus operations affected by the coronavirus, and student information, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/covid19.

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

With more than 8,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.