Tennessee Sate University Students Win Top Awards at National Honors Conference

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University students won two first-place awards at the 26th annual conference of the Association of African American Honors Programs held this month at Morehouse College in Atlanta.

Kalynn Parks won first place in research presentation for her study on the effects of hypertension. (Submitted photo)

More than 400 honors students, directors and faculty from 33 HBCUs across the nation participated in research presentations, academic competitions, career and graduate fairs, a quiz bowl, a model African Union, and talent competition Nov. 9-12.

TSU’s Kalynn Parks, of Atlanta, a senior biology major, won first place in research presentation for her project on “Sympathoexcitation and Increased Sodium Chloride Cotransporter Activity in Hypertensive Aged Sprague Dawley Rats.”

Leona Dunn, left, Jerry Tibbet and Alliyah Muhammed received a trophy for winning first place in the Model African Union competition. (Submitted photo)

In the Model African Union completion, the three-person TSU team, representing Kenya, walked away with first place. They included Jerry Tibbet, sophomore aeronautical and industrial technology major from Kenya; Leona Dunn, senior communications major from Omaha, Nebraska; and Aliyah Muhammed, freshman computer science major from Memphis.

“This conference provided an amazing opportunity not only to present my scientific research, but to be immersed in an environment with likeminded people who also looked like me,” said Parks, about her research on the effects of hypertension, which affects about one in three American adults.

Dr. Coreen Jackson, interim dean of the TSU Honors College, said she was amazed at Parks’ presentation.

“Kalynn was flawless in her poster presentation,” Jackson said. “I watched as the judges rigorously critiqued her methodology and findings. Ms. Parks confidently responded in a respectful manner to every question presented and argument raised by the judges. She held her own because of the depth of her knowledge and understanding of her work.”

Overall, Jackson said the 19 TSU students at the conference were outstanding in every aspects of their participation.

Tibbet, who served as the head delegate on the TSU Model African Union team, said he looks forward to one day participating in a “real United Nations General Assembly.

“It was very honorable and enlightening to represent TSU and to be a delegate to Kenya,” said Tibbet, who grew up in the East African nation. “Winning the award showed me that ideas could be turned into resolutions.”

The NAAAHP Annual Conference brings together Honors students, faculty, staff and professionals from HBCUs and PBCUs throughout the United States. TSU hosted the conference in 2016 with Jackson serving as national president.

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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, 25 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.