All posts by Michael McLendon

Slim & Husky’s-Atlanta Recognized by AJC On List of City’s Top 2019 Restaurant Openings

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Slim & Husky’s, the famous hip hop pizza franchise founded by three Tennessee State University alums, recently received recognition from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution as one of the “notable metro Atlanta restaurant openings of 2019.”

Clinton Gray III, Derrick Moore and Emmanuel “E.J.” Reed, all 2007 graduates of TSU, debuted the restaurant’s first Atlanta location in early May on Howell Road, offering teachers free pizza and a sneak peak at the venue. The owners say they plan to open a second Atlanta location on Metropolitan Parkway in Adair Park.

Plans have also been made to offer their unique array of pizza at new locations in Memphis, Chattanooga, Birmingham (Alabama), Austin, Houston and Louisville.

In 2010, Gray, Moore and Reed took their vision, passion and the almost $3,000 they had between them and paid a visit to the Nashville Business Incubation Center at the TSU Center for Entrepreneurship and Economic development. Within seven years they had built a multi-million dollar moving company that set the stage for opening the first location of Slim & Husky’s Local Pizza Beeria, at 911 Buchanan St., in 2017.

“We just wanted to provide something that would give the neighborhood some hope and also be inclusive to those who are first time homebuyers in the area,” Gray said then. “ We just want to bring everybody together over some good pizza.”

In December, the Metropolitan Nashville City Council recognized the trio with a resolution for  “winning the National Cheese Pizza Contest on Good Morning America, and for creating jobs and food options in underserved areas.”

With the vision of fusing pizza, hip hop and art, Gray, Moore and Reed have created a thriving restaurant that provides some of the best gourmet pizza in the nation as well as economic opportunities for college students.

For more information about Slim & Husky’s Pizza Beeria, visit https://slimandhuskys.com .

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 38 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.

Toys For Tots Brings More Than 2,000 Parents To TSU Campus

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University continues to keep community service at the center of its mission this holiday season.

On Dec. 21, more than 2,000 parents walked away with toys for their children during the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots distribution on the TSU main campus.

Thousands of toys of different sizes and shapes, for boys and girls up to age 12, were collected and distributed.  Volunteers, including TSU students, staff, alumni, and representatives from area charitable organizations and churches, helped with the distribution in Kean Hall.

Parents excited to receive toys for their children waited patiently in a line that extended outside Kean Hall. (Photo by Michael McLendon, TSU Media Relations)

This event stems from a partnership between TSU and the Marine Corps Reserve in its annual toy distribution program. Prior to Saturday, TSU served as the official drop-off center for donated toys.

Christopher Terry, a senior electrical engineering major with a minor in computer science, served as a volunteer at the event, helping parents to gather and secure toys for their children.

Terry, a Memphis-native whose community service group, Generation of Educated Men, volunteered at the event last year, said assisting with Toys For Tots gives him an opportunity to spread joy during the holiday season.

“Growing up in Memphis I did this with my church, and it just feels wonderful being able to do this now at an older age,” he said. “I just love the fact that TSU continues to be a pillar for the Nashville community by giving back and supporting the communities around us.”

Associate Dean of Students, Dr. William Hytche(right), coordinator of the Toys for Tots program for TSU, with Christopher Terry(left), a senior electrical engineering major with a minor in computer science who volunteered for the event, and Benetta M. Sears(center), the local director of Simply United Together Foundation. (Photo by Michael McLendon, TSU Media)

As part of the partnership with the Marine Corp – the first with a university in the Nashville, Davidson County area – TSU received unwrapped toys for children up to age 12.

Associate Dean of Students, Dr. William Hytche, coordinator of the Toys for Tots program for TSU, said Simply United Together, a non-profit that coordinates the pickup of donated toys from Toys for Tots, spearheaded bringing the program to TSU. He said this year the program served a more diverse group.

“We have Hispanics now. We have our Caucasian brothers and sisters who are coming in, and that’s because they have closed their centers.  So the demographics have changed this year,” Hytche said. “The director of Simply United Together was offered to go to other institutions who wanted this program, and they were offering a lot of incentives for her to come to their schools. She said, ‘No. I think Tennessee State University is where I want to be.’”

Benetta M. Sears, the local director of Simply United Together Foundation, said the number of families served at TSU this year has increased exponentially.

Benetta M. Sears(left), the local director of Simply United Together Foundation, with representatives from Nashville Noticias, a local media organization that assisted with recruiting parents for the Toys For Tots event. (Photo by Michael McLendon, TSU Media)

“Tennessee State University is very positive. This is a community school also, and the people here are more willing and ready to serve the Nashville community as it grows and we have exploded,” she said.

Sears said she hopes the parents who participated will one day encourage their children to attend Tennessee State University.

For more information on Toys for Tots at TSU, call Dr. William Hytche at 615-963-5069.

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 38 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.

Award-Winning Filmmaker Returns to TSU To Premiere Latest Project “Wear The Crown”

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University Alum and Award-Winning Filmmaker Alan Nettles returned to campus on Dec. 14 to premiere his latest film project, “Wear The Crown.”

In ”Wear The Crown,” Nettles, who secured his Bachelor of Science degree in communication studies with a concentration in TV and film production from TSU in 2019, takes viewers inside the trying world of a family rocked by the news that their mother, Winnie Price, has been diagnosed with stage 4 liver cancer.

The Phoenix Troupe (Photo Submitted)

The evening began at 6:30 p.m. in the Cox-Lewis Theater with a pre-show performance by a group of creative artists called the Phoenix Troupe.

Filled with touching music and engaging subplots, “Wear The Crown,” which took five days to shoot, showcases various locations in Nashville, including Tennessee State University, Arlington United Methodist Church and Diamond Sound Studios. The crew also shot on location in Cadiz, Kentucky.

“Our preproduction was also very intense. We had about six weeks of rehearsals with the cast,” Nettles said. “We had a lot of different marketing events that we participated in from September until now.  We did a huge crowd-funder campaign, and there were just so many different things that we were doing to really bring this film to life.”

Alan Nettles, founder and CEO of Moving4ward Productions (Photo Submitted)

Nettles, founder and CEO of Moving4ward Productions, the company responsible for the film, said “Wear The Crown” features numerous TSU alums, including Lynn Summers who portrays Winnie Price and Pamela Bennett, who portrays Mrs. Alexander.

Summers said the film takes a close look at the dynamics of family relationships.

“This film mirrors true society today.  These are the trials and tribulations we go through each and every day,” she said.  “Regardless of what happens, family is family.  We should still love one another, and we should still get together.”

TSU Alum Lynn Summers portrays Winnie Price in “Wear The Crown.” (Photo Submitted)

“Wear The Crown” was produced by an all-female team which includes: Cillea Houghton, producer; Janice Wheaton, executive producer; and Sabrina Moore, line producer.  This is the first time all three have produced a film.

Moore, a former nuclear engineer who recently graduated from TSU with a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications, said the film encourages people to take ownership of their lives, particularly their health.

“This film spotlights not only the issue of cancer, but of gender identity, depression and just how to accept yourself wherever you are in life,” she said.  “Deal with your issues. Deal with your health. Deal with your mental stability.  You can deal with it.  Everybody is dealing with something in some shape, form or fashion, so take ownership of your body and your life.”

Nettles, whose debut film “3 Blind Boys on the Block” was named Best of Fest at the 2015 Chi-Town Multicultural Film Festival, said witnessing his aunt, Tracey Reid, battle cancer inspired him to make the film.  He said the cast and crew worked tirelessly to produce a high-quality project that should strike a chord with anyone who has grappled with depression, grief or sickness.

“I’ve had to sacrifice life in order to breathe life into this production,” he said.

Nettles credits many of his professors at TSU, as well as his parents, with giving him the guidance and support necessary to achieve his creative aspirations.

“The faculty in the Department of Communications truly does care about its students, and if you allow them to love you, they will love you. You just have to be open to receive them,” he said.

Houghton said she hopes the film gives a voice to the voiceless.

“It’s shining a spotlight on important issues that I think will kind of resonate with everybody, from cancer to mental health, which is such a prominent issue today,” she said.  “We just really hope they feel that their voice is in this story, that their story is in this film.”

“Wear the Crown” also features performances by the Phoenix Troupe, a group of African-American singers and creative artists, including 2014 Essence Festival “You’re My Star” contest winner Megan Broadnax; Jeffrey White of gospel duo Same Seed; Lynn Echo, who appeared on former BET show “Bobby Jones Gospel,” along with Kyiara Jackson, Aundra Keo Brown and April Sledge.  

The premiere event also included a screening of the short film, “Loose Change,” written and directed by Moving4ward Productions  assistant director of Creative Development, William Jenkins.  

The event also honored cancer survivors related to members of the cast with the presentation of a special gift.

For more information about “Wear The Crown,” visit https://bit.ly/2PtbH1Z .

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 38 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-Apple Coding Initiative Introduces Girls To Coding and STEM

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University recently partnered with Apple, Inc. to teach middle and high school girls how to code, as well as consider careers in STEM.

Youth from ages 6 to 19 from various schools, including McKissack Middle School and HIllsboro High School, had the opportunity to experience coding at a free camp on Nov. 2, 9 and 16 in TSU’s Farrell Westbrook Complex (The Barn) on the main campus.

Apple CEO Tim Cook tweeted about the camp: “We’re proud to team up with @TSUedu and @nc100bwinc to show girls in Nashville how coding can help them realize their dreams. Can’t wait to see where your imaginations take you! “

Dr. Robbie Melton, TSU’s dean of Graduate and Professional Studies, serves as the program director for the coding initiative.

“We were able to introduce these girls to coding in a very fun, active and stimulating way,” she said.  “The students were only supposed to pick one Saturday, but some of the girls came back every Saturday.”

During the camp, participants moved around to different stations where they learned basic coding principles, and “actually coded drones and robots to move and function.”

Melton said because of the success of the camp, her office has received requests from local high schools, as well as schools in Memphis, Clarksville and Shelbyville that hope to explore coding.

“The students went back to their schools and talked to their teachers, and because of that we are now having special sessions for schools,” Melton said.  “We got a call from Hillsboro High School’s parent community where we went on Monday to do ‘Everyone Can Code. Everyone Can Create.’ Antioch is also on board. These are schools that have reached out because of their students to say, ‘Hey, can we have more?  Can we bring students to you, or can you all come to us?”

Students from various schools in Nashville gather for photo following a free coding camp held in TSU’s Farrell Westbrook Complex. (Submitted Photo)

In July, TSU launched  HBCU C2 “Everyone Can Code and Create,” a national initiative supported by Apple, which seeks to bring coding experiences to historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and underserved communities. The initiative is part of TSU’s newly established National Center for Smart Technology Innovations, created through the  HBCU C2 Presidential Academy. The girls coding camp is an extension of the initiative.

Dr. Veronica Johnson is president of the Metro Nashville Chapter of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc., which partnered with TSU and Apple. She said black women and girls are “vastly underrepresented” in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, as well as performing arts.

“By exposing STEM projects at an early age, it could help increase their chances of exploring these fields, as they pursue academic degrees and seek future career opportunities,” Johnson said. “Having access to develop needed skill sets to survive in the 21st digital landscape will be critical to the economic impact of the future of black communities.”

Eleven-year-old Genesis Wells, who attends Cresswell Middle Prep School of the Arts, said she found out about the camp from her mother, Ariel Wells, who works at TSU.

Genesis Laniah Wells, a student at Cressell Middle Prep School of the Arts, attended the girls’ coding camp with her mom Ariel Wells, who works at TSU. (Submitted Photo)

“I enjoyed playing in Swift Playgrounds the most and GarageBand,” she said. “I enjoyed Swift Playgrounds because you get to control a character named Bright and make him collect coins, and it makes your brain think a little bit. I enjoyed GarageBand because I got to make beats and I love music, so that’s just a dream for me.”

Wells, who aspires to be a singer, actor and dancer, said she is also considering a career as a pediatrician.

Dr. S. Keith Hargrove, dean of TSU’s College of Engineering, said the camp was also beneficial to the participants’ parents, or guardians.

“The program also informs parents and adults about the digital world of information technology, and how as individuals you can take control of your learning and knowledge based on your own needs and career goals,” said Hargrove. “The ability to manage information and make data-driven decisions will continue to be a major skill for today and tomorrow’s workforce”

TSU has been charged with strengthening the collaboration by offering the company’s coding curriculum to new audiences. That expansion also includes providing TSU alums the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of app design and app development for free.

To date, TSU has impacted 32 HBCUs with the  HBCU C2 Initiative, including visiting every HBCU in Arkansas and meeting with a representative from each HBCU located in Louisiana. Melton said in April 2020 Apple will establish an HBCU Appstore, where HBCUs can share the various apps they have created. 

“If you can dream it, we can design it and we can code it. Everyone is not going to be a coder, but everyone can think and create.,” she said. “We leave every academy with apps that they have designed to address a community, an education or a workforce need.”

Also in July, TSU launched the first community “Everyone Can Code and Create” initiative for youth on its Avon Williams Campus. The initiative is also part of the National Center for Smart Technology Innovations.

For more information about the girls coding camp, contact ablack1@tnstate.edu, or call 615-963-7269.

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 38 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.

More Than 100 Volunteers Expected On Campus For Retool Your School Project

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – More than 100 volunteers are expected to gather at Tennessee State University on Friday to assist with campus renovations funded by the $50,000 Home Depot’s Retool You School Grant the university secured in the spring.

A 20-person camera crew from Home Depot will be on hand to record the volunteers, who will assist with mulching and power washing, as well as light installation in the university amphitheater and the exterior of the Floyd-Payne Campus Center.

Tennessee State University received  “Campaign of the Year” honors in Home Depot’s Retool Your School- HBCU Campus Improvement competition in the spring. This was the first year for the award, which was created to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Retool Your School program.  TSU beat out 60 other institutions for the award.

TSU finished second in voting for the large institution category, but walked away with the Campaign of the Year award.  Judges cited the overall performance of the campaign that was able to engage students, alumni and the community, as well as digital media strategies to promote voting.

Home Depot gave the final approval of the project, which begins Friday.

Currently, there are several major construction projects underway on TSU’s campus. They include a new Health Sciences Building, two new residence halls, and an Alumni House and Welcome Center.

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 38 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 Secures $11.4 Million To Help Provide Families With Better Childcare In Tennessee

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Child care providers in Tennessee will have the opportunity to receive additional training thanks to a new $11.4 million federal grant secured by Tennessee State University’s Center of Excellence for Learning Sciences. The university believes better trained daycare providers will mean better daycare services for Tennessee families.

(Photo by Michael McLendon, TSU Media Relations)

Dr. Kimberly Smith, the center’s director, says the grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will allow TSU to continue to serve as the professional development hub for the state as it relates to child development and early childhood training.

“We are expanding our online courses through the Tennessee Child care Online Training System, and we will now be responsible for the state’s workforce registry for all child development professionals who work in the area of childcare across the state,” says Smith.

Tennessee Early Childhood Training Alliance (TECTA), a statewide professional development system that provides assistance for employees at licensed childcare facilities, is funded by Tennessee State University through a contract with the Tennessee Department of Human Services and is housed under the Center of Excellence for Learning Sciences.

Some of the additional courses that will soon be available include: Early Literacy Matters; Eat, Play and Rest; Inclusion; and Brain Development.

“One thing that makes TECTA so unique is that we work with early childhood professionals to strengthen the workforce within the state for childcare. We get to work with the family home providers and the centers, and then we provide funding for students,” adds Smith.

Dr. Kimberly Smith (Photo by Michael McLendon, TSU Media Relations)

Carmen Davis says without help from TSU’s TECTA program, she
would not have been able to open her three-star childcare company, Ms. Carmen’s Precious Moments.

“I was working full-time and going to school, and I couldn’t afford to do both,” says Davis, who started her business in 2007. “TECTA came in to offset the price, which allowed me the opportunity to go and achieve my CDA (Child Development Associate) through their grant and their funding.”

Davis, whose company is licensed to care for seven clients, says she has taken advantage of many of the courses currently offered by TECTA.

“I went through all of the TECTA orientations which were very beneficial because I work with a multi-age group. I went through the infant–toddler training, the preschool training and the administration training, which benefits me as far as my business part,” she says. “I also went through the TECTA Business Administration credential which helped with putting together a portfolio, the taxes part of it, the business sheets part of it and being professional. It took me to another level of professionalism.”

Tonita Robinson’s children have attended Ms. Carmen’s Precious Moments since they were six-weeks old. She says her two-year-old and four-year-old have benefited from Davis’ experiences with TECTA.

Carmen Davis, owner of Ms. Carmen’s Precious Moments. (Photo by Michael McLendon, TSU Media Relations)

“She does a good job identifying my kids’ triggers,” says Robinson. “She makes sure if my son is acting out, she doesn’t say he’s just acting out. She’s able to say why he was acting out, what she thinks might have caused him to act out, and what we can do to work together to fix it.”

Robinson, who works as a financial advisor at Napier Elementary School, believes the new funding is necessary for child care professionals to provide the best services.

“Everything changes everyday. Nothing stays the same,” she says. “The curriculum changes, and if the childcare provider’s job is to help prepare kids for when they get into school, then they need to have the training that regular teachers in the school system have so they will be on one accord.”

Dr. Frances Williams, associate vice president for Research and
Sponsored Programs at TSU, credits Smith, TECTA Statewide Program Director Lin Venable and the center’s team approach for TECTA’s success.

“Under Dr. Smith’s leadership, she and her team have grown the center, as well as the funding. In this case, with TECTA receiving a little over $11 million for the year, this is the largest award for TECTA to date,” says Williams.

Shelia Westbrooks, the Middle Tennessee regional advisor for TOPSTAR, says the advisors have found the “most-needed” areas for the new programs and TECTA services in general are rural areas.

“They are not familiar with the program, and if they are, they don’t have internet access,” says Westbrooks, who worked as a licensed childcare provider for more than 20 years. “We try to make sure that we get materials to them to keep them aware of how family child care is changing in the state of Tennessee.”
Westbrooks contends that many rural family care providers don’t know that there is funding available to assist them.

“TECTA helped fund my education. With the fund I got I was able to get my degree and now as an advisor, I work with over 239 providers in the Middle Tennessee Region,” she says. ‘It’s all about higher education and we want them to get their CDA credential and their accreditation credential, and TECTA helps to pay for all of that. A provider who works for themselves may not always have that extra funding, and so TECTA is that bridge to get them where they want to be.”

The Tennessee State University Center of Excellence for Learning Sciences was established in 1984, and began administering the TECTA Program in 1993.

For more information about TECTA, visit tecta.info or call 615-277-1697.

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 38 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.

Top Houston Student Chooses TSU to Pursue Career in Engineering and Robotics

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Freshman Houston-native Paul Johnson, Jr., initially considered studying mechanical engineering at a university closer to his hometown.

All that changed last fall after a chance meeting with Tennessee State University Honors College Interim Dean, Dr. Coreen Jackson.

Johnson, Jr., a freshman mechanical engineering major, says he had just completed a campus visit to Texas A&M University when his father, Paul Johnson, Sr., ran into Jackson and her husband, who happened to be in town for a wedding.

“I already had a slight knowledge of who she was, but after meeting her she told me about the campus, and it caught my attention,” Johnson, Jr., said.

With Jackson’s assistance, the Johnson family scheduled a campus visit, which gave Paul an opportunity to tour Tennessee State and meet with Dr. S. Keith Hargrove, dean of the College of Engineering.

Paul Johnson, Jr.

“What I found out about this campus is that there are a whole lot more engineering aspects that I did not anticipate when I was looking into the university,” he said. “I got to see more about the interactions between the faculty and the students themselves, in terms of doing research and improving technology.”

Jackson, who hosted Johnson’s family when they initially visited TSU, says the younger Johnson has a bright future.

“To me he will be the next Jesse Russell,” she said, referring to the famous TSU alum who created the first digital cellular base station and is known as the father of digital cellular technology. “It may not be wireless communications, but it will be some breakthrough in something.”

Johnson, Jr., recalls having a love for engineering as early as preschool.

“When I was in preschool at church, I was the student who was messing with the Lincoln Logs and the plexi toys to make giant cars, toys and robots, and I eventually even started a little league just to have fun with the other students who wanted to build stuff,” he said.

Throughout his four years at Cyprus Woods High School, Johnson, Jr., developed his engineering skills as a member of the Texas Technology Student Association. He also participated in NASA HUNCH, a program that he says allowed him to work directly with NASA officials to help make machine parts for the international space station.

As a member of the Honors College, the 19-year-old budding robotics guru has continued to pursue his engineering passion by joining organizations such as the National Society of Black Engineers (NESBE) and the Tennessee Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (TLSAMP).

Paul Johnson

In September, Johnson, Jr., joined TSU President Glenda Glover in Washington, DC, along with three other students chosen to participate in the National HBCU Braintrust during the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Annual Legislative Conference. Top students from the nation’s historically black colleges and universities participated in the brainstrust.

Upon completion of his undergraduate studies, Johnson plans to pursue a doctorate and ultimately play a leadership role in the robots industry.

“In ten years I want to be part of or in charge of leading the whole robotics industry in terms of the consumer dynamic,” said Johnson, Jr. “There are still lingering fears that people have about dealing with robotics, but they fail to look into how robotics can help people on a grander scale.”

Jackson says she witnessed Johnson’s love for TSU when he provided live music for his classmates during freshman move-in.

“While the parents and freshman where coming in, he took that upright bass and he just serenaded the people,” she said. “He’s just an amazing young man.  He is one young man who is on his way to fulfilling his purpose, and he has found the institution that can take him there.”

For more information about opportunities in the TSU College of Engineering, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/engineering/.

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 38 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.

Mitchell Inspires Students at Second Annual Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. Lecture

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Renowned cancer specialist Dr. Edith Peterson Mitchell was the keynote speaker at Tennessee State University’s second annual Dr. Levi Watkins Jr. Lecture Series on Oct. 17.

Peterson is a TSU alumna and member of the university’s Board of Trustees. The event was held during Homecoming week in the Robert N. Murrell Forum on the main campus.

Student Government Association President Katelyn Thompson recognized special guests and Malcolm Finally, inaugural president of the Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. Society, introduced Mitchell, who discussed a number of issues with the audience.

They included the decline in cancer mortality rates, the impact of Medicare on cancer disparities, and how specific cancers uniquely affect minority communities.

TSU President Glenda Glover (right) with Guest Lecturer and TSU Board of Trustee Member Edith Peterson Mitchell (left), and Student Government Association President Katelyn Thompson (center) after the Second Annual Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. Lecture. (Photo by Erynne Davis, TSU Media Relations)

Mitchell also encouraged students to consider careers in health care.

“Blacks in this country make up 3.9 percent of all physicians in this country, and yet in 2013 the census showed that blacks in this country made up 15 percent of the United States population,” said Mitchell, a retired Air Force brigadier general.

The lecture series, a component of the Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr., Institute, was established to honor Watkins, a 1966 alumnus of TSU and the first African-American to be accepted into and graduate from the Vanderbilt School of Medicine. It features prominent speakers who address areas in health care and STEM to prepare students for the medical field. The late Watkins is known worldwide for being the first surgeon to successfully implant an automatic heart defibrillator in a human patient.

“I tell my students and residents all the time, ‘Don’t forget to look through the rearview mirror and make sure you know what is behind you,’ and we know that Dr. Levi Watkins was there in that rearview mirror for us to get information and be inspired by his work,” she said.

TSU President Glenda Glover and Guest Lecturer and TSU Board of Trustee Member Edith Peterson Mitchell join administrators and special guests for a photo after the unveiling of a display case located on the second floor of the Floyd-Payne Campus Center designed in honor of Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. (Photo by Erynne Davis, TSU Media Relations)

TSU President Glenda Glover welcomed the crowd and explained the purpose of the Dr. Levi Watkins Jr., Institute.

“He provided a balm that would heal the hearts of men and women.  It’s a balm that will ensure the longevity of lives of men and women,” said Glover. “So he came forth with that balm from Tennessee State University, and now he has passed that on to students for the students to see and understand the value of having a scientific education.” 

Dr. Lonnie Sharpe, director of the Dr. Levi Watkins Jr., Institute, presided over the program which concluded with the induction of new students into the Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. Society, an organization comprised of students who aspire to attend medical school.

“It was a wonderful experience to have a board of trustee member as our guest lecturer,” Sharpe said. “Based upon my input from the students, they enjoyed her talk, and they are all excited about the additional collaboration that may be occurring with her as part of a research proposal that we are partnering with her on right now.”

Denias Smith, a junior biology major and vice-president of the Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. Society, shared a brief presentation portraying Watkins, which he delivered prior to the unveiling of a display case designed in Watkin’s honor. (Photo by Erynne Davis, TSU Media Relations)

Following the program, the university unveiled a display case on the second floor of the Floyd-Campus Center dedicated to preserving Watkin’s legacy. Prior to the unveiling, Denias Smith, a junior biology major and vice-president of the society, gave a brief presentation, portraying Watkins.

The display includes a portrait of Watkins drawn by TSU Alumnus Brandon Van Leer, a life-size manikin clothed in Watkins medical attire, an automatic heart defibrillator and a video showcasing Watkins when he became the first surgeon to successfully implant the device in 1980.

Students inducted into the Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. Society include Jayvonna Gambrell, president, a sophomore biology major; Mariel Liggin, secretary, a junior biology major; and Gelanni Jones, a sophomore biology major.

Students take pledge while being inducted into the Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. Society. (Photo by Erynne Davis, TSU Media Relations)

Other students inducted into the society include Janelle Ariosa, a senior biology major; Kalkidan Bekele, a freshman biology major; Autumn Brunson, a junior biology major; Ashli Earl, a junior biology major; Kristen Wardlow, a freshman; Lauren Graves, a freshman biology major, Larry McNary II, a junior biology major, Mohamed Mohamed, a sophomore chemistry major, Habiba Mwechiwa, a junior biology major, Alanis Onwu, a junior agricultural science major; and Tyree Pitts, a junior biology major.

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 38 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 Remembers Founders During 2019 Homecoming

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) –Tennessee State University held it’s Founder’s Day Convocation on Oct. 15 in Kean Hall.

TSU President Glenda Glover, accompanied by keynote speaker Nashville General Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Joseph Webb, led a procession of faculty, student leaders and administrators to mark the university’s 107th birthday.

President Glenda Glover presents 2018 Founders’ Day speaker Dr. Joseph Webb with a plaque at the ceremony in Kean Hall. (Photo by Emanuel O. Roland II)

The University Wind Ensemble, led by Dr. Reginald McDonald, offered selections to a cheering audience, following presentation of colors by the Air Force ROTC Color Guard.

“We honor our founders, and we celebrate our excellence,” Glover said, as she reflected on the significance of the university’s contributions. “It is my esteemed pleasure to be here on this founders day.”

Miss TSU, Jada Crisp, and Mr. TSU, Damyr Moore, shared a brief history of TSU, followed by a musical selection from the University Choir.

In his keynote address, Webb reminisced about his days as a student at TSU.

Miss TSU Jada Crisp, joined by Mr. TSU Damyr Moore, gives the university history at the Founders’ Day program. (Photo by Michael McLendon, TSU Media Relations)

“For me this is truly a homecoming because I am back in what we used to call ‘Kean’s  Little Garden,’” Webb said. “They call it Kean Hall now, but we had a lot of experiences here as an athlete. As a basketball player, I had two goals in mind: one was on this end, and one was on that end.”

He reminded the students, faculty and alumni that as members of the TSU family, they are part of a proud legacy.

“TSU, founded in 1912, has a rich history of producing public service and great leaders. It is still that beacon of  hope where many aspire to gain a better life with the motto of ‘Think.Work.Serve,’ and a charge of ‘Enter to learn, and go forth to serve.’” he said.

The University Wind Ensemble, led by Dr. Reginald McDonald, offer a selection at Founder’s Day Convocation. (Photo by Michael McLendon, TSU Media Relations)

Webb, who joined Nashville General Hospital in 2015, has more than 25 years of experience managing for–profit and not-for-profit  healthcare organizations. He obtained his doctorate of science in health services administration from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and holds a bachelor of science and master of science in health and physical education from TSU.

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 38 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 Aristocrat of Bands Ranked No. 1 Among HBCU Bands

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – The Tennessee State University world famous marching band has done it again. Just in time for homecoming, The Undefeated has named the TSU Aristocrat of Bands the Best HBCU marching band in America.

Ranked No. 4 in the September poll, AOB moved slightly ahead of North Carolina A&T State University to take the title, with top finishes in all categories, including No. 1 in drum major.

This is the third ESPN/The Undefeated HBCU Ranking this season. Bands are evaluated based on musicality, drill and design, percussion, auxiliary crops and drum majors. The rankings are conducted by two six-person panels consisting of current and retired band directors from HBCUs, as well as choreographers.

The AOB is not new to national or international recognition. They have performed at the White House, at NFL games, and appeared at events and performed with many other big stars.

During the recent NFL Draft in Nashville, the AOB thrilled fans with a performance on ESPN’s “First Take.” Percussionists from the band performed in the Rose Bowl Parade. The AOB performed with country music legend Keith Urban, and performed at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

Lizzo, a rising star topping the charts, gave a shout out to the band recently after they performed a dynamic medley including her hit song “Truth Hurts”  at TSU’s game against Mississippi Valley State on Aug. 31, and delivered a repeat performance at the National Battle of the Bands in Houston, Lizzo’s hometown.

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 38 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.