Nashville, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated National President and CEO Beverly Smith encouraged Tennessee State University students at this year’s Women of Legend and Merit Award Dinner to use the power of their voice.
Smith was the keynote speaker for the event on April 10 in TSU’s Kean Hall, which also featured nationally renowned jazz trumpeter Rod McGaha.
The assistant commissioner and Georgia State director for Adult Education and GED Testing through the Technical College System of Georgia, Smith encouraged attendees to come together and celebrate the power of their diversity.
“There is no better time than now for us as black women to understand that coming together and strategically supporting each other is what puts the power in our message,” she said. “We cannot let our superficial differences between us stand in the way of our ability to focus on our common needs and our common concerns.”
First held in 2007, the WOLM awards is designed to bring awareness and raise funds to support the TSU Women’s Center, which offers student-focused programming to empower individuals and student organizations, as well as help students make the right choices.
At the awards dinner, TSU freshman Natalie Cooper was awarded a $1,000 scholarship to pursue her degree in business administration with a concentration in supply chain management. The scholarship dollars are available mainly through funds raised at the WOLM awards through ticket sales and sponsorships.
A special presentation was made to state Sen. Thelma Harper, the first black woman to serve in the Tennessee State Legislature. Harper, who announced on April 4 that she will not seek re-election, worked as an elected official for over 35 years, serving 27 of those years as senator for District 19.
Women’s Center director Seanne Wilson said the purpose of the awards dinner is to “empower and uplift the female students at TSU.” She said Smith’s visit gave the young ladies at TSU an opportunity to witness a “woman of excellence who is the head of a large body of women of excellence.”
This year’s honorees were Vivian Wilhoite, Metropolitan Nashville and Davidson County property accessor; Dr. Tameka Winston, TSU interim chair of the Department of Communications; Many Bears Grinder, commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs; Tina Tuggle, Tennessee Titans director of community relations; and retired educator and activist Gwendolyn Vincent.
Wilson said the yearly event gives young women at TSU an opportunity to meet women from varying organizations in diverse positions, and hear their stories and their struggles. She said the event’s main objective is to help the Women’s Center which serves as a “safe zone” for women at TSU who experience issues such as fear, anxiety and depression, as well as domestic violence, homelessness and the lack of food.
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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.