All posts by Michael McLendon

Candlelight Vigils for TSU Alum Maleka Jackson Held Across The Nation

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Friends and family of Tennessee State University alum Maleka Grimes Jackson gathered on the TSU campus to remember the young mother who was recently killed in a boating accident in the Bahamas.

Jackson, a Chattanooga native who lived in Atlanta, graduated from TSU in 2000 with a degree in liberal arts and sciences. She and her husband, Tiran, were on vacation celebrating their 15-year wedding anniversary at the time of the accident.

A member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Jackson was known by her line sisters in the Alpha Psi Chapter as “the glue that held them together.”

“She made sure that whenever we came together, whether at homecoming or at an event in Atlanta, that we stayed together,” said Sharese Jackson, a graduate of TSU who pledged AKA with Maleka as part of the “Y2KUTE” line in the fall of 1999. “We are in the process of planning our 20th anniversary, and she was one of the first people to say, ‘What are we going to do? It will be 20 years next year. We need to do this. We need to do that.’ She kept us connected.”

Though the two Jacksons were not blood sisters, Sharese, a professional singer and actress, shared reflections at the candlelight vigil as well as sang an original song called Hero in honor of her “line sister” Maleka.

“She was a really sweet person. She was a person who wanted to make sure you were always at your best,” Sharese said. “She worked in human resources, and she was the one that people could go to if they had a question about what to do as far as looking for jobs and how to stay relevant. She was always ready to give that information, and always willing to help.”

The Bahamas explosion, which took place on June 30, injured nine other passengers including Tiran, who suffered severe injuries that resulted in an amputation.

Lawanda Jones, who has known Maleka and Tiran since their days at TSU, said the last communication she had with Makela was through a text message conversation they shared on Jones’ birthday, four days before Jackson died.

Members of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority honored Makela Jackson with a candlelight vigil in Houston while attending the sorority’s international conference. (Photo submitted)

“She had sent me a text to tell me happy birthday. For me it was the most beautiful piece of closure when I realized she had passed just days later because in my text message to her I was thanking her for being such a close friend over the last 18 years,” said Jones, also a member of AKA and the “Y2KUTE” line. “I was just telling her I was blessed to have her as a friend, and how much I loved her, and she responded back similarly. She was just saying how proud of me she was, and she ended by saying, ‘We are forever friends,’” Jones said.

Jones, who recently attended the AKA’s international conference in Houston, helped to organize a vigil there which coincided with the event at TSU. She said other vigils honoring Maleka were held simultaneously in Memphis, Tennessee; Charlotte, North Carolina; Dallas and Atlanta.

“There’s going to be a long road ahead for Tiran and their son. Tiran

Sorority sisters gather at candlelight vigil in Atlanta to honor Makela Jackson (Photo courtesy of AJC)

is going to face physical and emotional challenges. They are both going to need someone to help them talk this through.,” Jones said.

She encourages people to contribute to the fundraising campaign established to help support Maleka’s family.

“Maleka saw the best in everyone. She was all about her son and her husband. I have no doubt she had big plans for her son to go to school and to further his education. So it’s like giving to someone who always gave back. “

To support the Love for Maleka Jackson and Family campaign, visit https://www.gofundme.com/supportjackson15.

 

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, 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.

Graduate School Premieres New Innovative Online Application Process

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – The Tennessee State University Graduate School kicked off it’s fall enrollment period July 16 with a new graduate online application system.

According to Dr. Robbie Melton, interim dean of the Graduate School, TSU graduate students can now apply to multiple graduate degree programs by submitting a single application for enrollment. She said students can manage the entire process online, including submission of supporting documentation, transcripts and recommendation requests.

“The graduate school is strategically planning to incorporate advanced technology enhancements to increase enrollments, to improve teaching, learning, productivity, accessibility, to provide affordable learning solutions through the use of Open Education,” Melton said.

She said using the Centralized Application Service (CAS™) for Graduate Schools and Programs GradCAS™, provides TSU graduate students with a one-stop customized portal to track their admission process, obtain updated information, set up meetings with advisors and access student services and support services.

GradCAS, the leader in application management for higher education, will also provide a central portal for the graduate school to collect documentation as well as enhance the ability for graduate departments to track and monitor the status of their potential students.

“This is only Phase One of the strategic plan for technology enhancement of the graduate school,” Melton said. “Phase two, which will start this Fall, will incorporate the automation of the graduate catalog, degree audits, and student-faculty related forms as well as the planning of graduate online degree programs and services to offer more delivery options to our mobile graduate students and to become an education leader in today’s worldwide society.”

TSU’s graduate school currently offers seven doctoral degrees, 24 master’s degrees and eight certificates. To apply,visit go.tnstate.edu.

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, 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.

Minnesota Native Says Quality Faculty and Beautiful Campus Attracted Her to TSU Graduate School

 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University wasn’t on Jeff and Julie Palm’s radar when they initially made the 12-hour trek from Millville, Minnesota to Nashville, Tennessee. Their daughter Katie was looking to pursue her doctorate degree in physical therapy at one of the state’s premiere universities. However, after an unpleasant touring experience, the Palms found the perfect graduate school atmosphere for their daughter at TSU.

“When we did a tour down here a year and a half ago, it was Spring Break, and there were no students on campus. We talked to the office staff worker, and she took us to three different professors who were doing their work, and they were all like, ‘Oh, come on in and sit down,’ ” said Julie Palm, who works as a licensed practical nurse in Minnesota. “All three professors were just so nice and explained everything to us, and I think that is part of the reason we fell in love with TSU.”

Katie Palm

Katie Palm, who earned her bachelor of science degree in Health Sciences from the University of Minnesota Rochester, started her journey at TSU this summer. She said she loves the campus and is excited about being a TSU Tiger.

“I love the values that TSU has. At Rochester, there was an open door policy where students could approach a professor and ask them any question at any time, and the physical therapy program at TSU also has that open door policy,” she said. “That’s one of the things I’ve become accustomed to, and I’m glad they have that here.”

Dr. Alex Sekwat, associate dean of the Graduate School, said getting accepted into TSU’s DPT program in Physical Therapy is no small feat.

“The physical therapy program is a very competitive program. Gaining entrance to it is a little difficult because the demand is high,” said Sekwat. “Typically, in a given admissions cycle, the program attracts close to 300 applicants, and out of that only 36 are offered admissions. So it is very selective.”

Sekwat said the Ph.D. in Physical Therapy is just one of many advanced degrees offered by the Tennessee State University Graduate School.

“We provide diverse programming, ranging from health sciences, business, government, education, engineering, agriculture and liberal arts,” he said. “We have programs for any student who is looking for what is mainstream. Not to mention that we offer 24 master’s degree programs, seven doctoral degree programs, and up to eight graduate certificate programs.”

According to Sekwat, TSU offers a mixed-range of full-time programs for traditional students and non-traditional students who come part-time like working adults as well as students who can only attend classes online. He said new technology being implemented by the graduate school will provide upcoming students with a smoother application process.

“We are in the process of bringing on board a totally online application system, whereby there will be no paperwork involved,” Sekwat said. “With that we are hoping that beginning next semester, new students will have a completely different experience because everything will be at their fingertips. They won’t have to send us any paper. Everything will be processed online. Classes will be uploaded online, letters of recommendation online, statement of purpose online, test scores and so on. That is one of the most exciting things I see coming.”

Palm, who plans to stay in Tennessee after she earns her Ph.D., said she intends to use her expertise to eventually work with children. Her father, Jeff, who works as a machinist, said he is proud of Katie’s accomplishments, and they are excited about her attending the university.

“I am very proud of her just like my wife,” he said. “Katie excels in everything she does. She’s great with everything, and we are very supportive of her.”

For more information about the Tennessee State University Graduate School, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/graduate/.

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, 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.

Felicia Taylor Pursues Doctorate in Education, Continues Family Legacy

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – After completing her undergraduate degree in agricultural sciences at Tennessee State University, Felicia Taylor took an internship with the agricultural extension service in West Tennessee. Her career path seemed to be set, until she started working with youth in the 4-H program.

Felicia Taylor

“Going to 4-H camp and working with the students is what inspired me to want to go into education and to teach. So I came back to TSU, and I majored in education, with a concentration in administration and supervision,” she said.

Taylor, who was born in Tennessee but reared in New Orleans, said her journey as an educator started by working as a substitute teacher.

“I was a substitute teacher for two years while working on my master’s degree. While I was an interim sub, a teacher at one of the schools where I was subbing didn’t return,” said Taylor, who is currently a doctoral student pursuing her Ed.D. in curriculum and instruction at TSU. “The principal asked me if I wanted the job. I said yes, and so I have been at my school, DuPoint Hadley, the entire time, since 1999.”

After noticing the low literacy rate of students in Tennessee, Taylor, who has an Ed.S. in administration, set her sites on helping students become better readers.

“My goal ultimately is to do curriculum development and even work on a collegiate level as well,” she said. “Being an educator and a literacy teacher, I am able to see some of those deficiencies that students have, and I am looking to help develop a curriculum to address some of the issues that the students are facing.”

Taylor said a great deal of her research focuses on helping students with reading across all content areas. She said Dr. Clara Young, professor and department chair for Teaching and Learning in the College of Education, has been instrumental in providing students like her with the support necessary to make progress on her dissertation while teaching full-time.

Young, who has worked in higher education for nearly 24 years, said she sees Taylor as a committed and enthusiastic educator who can make a meaningful contribution to higher education.

“The fact that she has been a teacher for 20 years, in addition to completing this degree, will better equip her to move into higher education to become a teacher educator and to actually teach people how to become teachers. So this will definitely be an opportunity for her,” Young said. “She can bring her experience to future teachers, and I think that will be really important.”

According to Taylor’s sister, Leah Dupree, education has always been central in their family.

Felicia’s father, Eric Dupree, oversees the family’s Century Farm in Alamo, Tennessee.(submitted photo)

“Education has always been very important. It wasn’t, ‘Are you going to college?’ or,  ‘Are you going to school?’ It was, ‘Where are you going?’ It was never an option for us,” said Dupree, a TSU graduate and director of Legislative Services for the Tennessee Department of General Services. “It was just a way of life, and most of the people in our family have multiple degrees because we truly value education, but we also value the service.”

Taylor and Dupree, both members of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., credit their father, Eric Dupree, who oversees the family’s Century Farm in Alamo, Tennessee, for having a great influence on their academic pursuits.

“My father was definitely an influence on my career. He is also an educator, and he just encouraged me to always make a difference in the lives of people and students if I could,” Taylor said.

Dupree, who also serves as vice president of the accounting board for the TSU College of Business, described her sister as a “phenomenal teacher who connects with her students.”

“Her personality is just so vibrant, and I know TSU is probably the reason for so much of that. Some of the connections she made, the mentors that she still has today, came from TSU, and I just hope that people know how much she loves TSU, she loves her community, and she loves education,” Dupree said.

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, 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.

Business savvy TSU Alums serving up slices and scholarships with expansion of pizza franchise

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) –Scores of hungry patrons waited patiently for their chance to try a slice of Slim & Husky’s Pizza at the grand opening of its Antioch restaurant on June 19. The new location is a follow up to the successful north Nashville eatery established by three Tennessee State University alums.

Though much larger than the first venue, the new restaurant at 5270 Hickory Hollow Pkwy remained packed with patrons throughout the day.  The new Slim & Husky’s employs more than 100 people and features the art of six local artists.

“It’s been great man.  Since we opened the doors today at 10:30 a.m., we’ve had a line out the door, so it’s been a beautiful experience and opening for us,” said Derrick Moore, one of the three Tennessee State University alums who gained national acclaim in March 2017 when they opened the restaurant’s first location at 911 Buchanan St. in Nashville.

Patrons wait patiently for a taste of Slim & Husky’s Pizza during the venue’s June 19 grand opening commemorating the Juneteenth.

Moore, along with Emmanuel “E.J.” Reed and Clinton Gray III, took their vision of fusing pizza, hip hop and art, and created a thriving brand which will in the upcoming year expand to locations in Wedgwood Houston (Nashville), Nashville International Airport (BNA), the upcoming National Museum of African American Music, and Atlanta.

According to Moore, the trio opted to expand the Slim & Husky’s brand to Antioch to provide more quality food offerings in the area.

“We know that Antioch is underserved when it comes to quality food.  We have a lot of food chains out here, but not a lot of people invest in Antioch in terms of locally–owned restaurants, and so we knew that we would do well out here,” he said.  “Plus, the demographic of Antioch is so diverse.  There are so many people here, so we knew that this would be a great location for them.”

Waiting outside for his chance to experience one of Slim & Husky’s

TSU alum Clyde Poag stands in line anticipating his first slice of Slim & Husky’s Pizza at the new  Antioch location.

many offerings was 1971 TSU Alum and East St. Louis, Illinois native Clyde Poag.  Poag, the stepson of former TSU faculty member and speech and theatre legend Thomas Edward Poag, said his son encouraged him to check out the restaurant.

“My son said go and try it, so I am taking him at his word,” he said. Poag will begin teaching at TSU this fall as an adjunct professor of social work.

As Slim & Husky’s continues to grow, its owners have increased their efforts to promote education by continuing to provide jobs for area youth, as well as scholarships.  Last month, the owners presented scholarships to five former and current employees who, according to the owners, “excelled through academics, athletics and community service.”

Owners of Slim & Husky’s Pizza pose with recipients of five scholarships they presented to local high school students in May including Doneisha Wells (center) who plans to attend TSU.

Moore said they presented additional scholarships to students at an area high school.  He said at least one of the students, Doneisha Wells of East Magnet High School, hopes to attend TSU.

“It’s just something we want to do, because to us, we just don’t want to be one of those companies that come into the community and don’t contribute,” he said.

Wells, who said she would like to have a career in childcare or healthcare,  is excited about the possibilities of attending the university.

“It’s more convenient for me in my situation,” she said. “It’s closer to home, and I love TSU.  I go to every TSU event.”

The Antioch location of Slim and Husky’s is open this week from 10:30 a.m. – 8 p.m.  through Saturday, and beginning next Monday from 10:30 a.m.-11 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 12 p.m. to8 p.m. on Sunday. For more information about the venue, visit slimandhuskys.com.

 

 

TSU’s Aristocrat of Bands prepares for big performance and recruiting in Texas

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Houston, Texas will serve as the backdrop for a special performance by Tennessee State University’s Aristocrat of Bands in July.

TSU’s Aristocrat of Bands

Affectionately known as the AOB, the band will be front and center during the upcoming national conference for Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Members are preparing for a big show, which is extremely important as the natives believe, “everything is bigger in Texas.”

“The Aristocrat of Bands is honored to be invited and have the opportunity to perform for a prestigious audience such as Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated,” said TSU Band Director Dr. Reginald McDonald.  “This performance will also give us exposure in the Houston area. The Aristocrat of Bands Staff started vigorously recruiting the Houston market about three years ago to date,” added McDonald.

Dr. Glenda Glover, TSU’s first female and eighth president, will become the 30th international president of Alpha Kappa Alpha. The service organization is the oldest African American sorority in the country with nearly 300,000 members worldwide, in 1,000 chapters. Glover believes her leadership role with the organization will assist in recruiting talented students to TSU and enhance the university’s presence on a national stage.

“I’m truly humbled by the membership  for electing me to this position, and just as proud to have my institution, and alma mater be  part of the this special moment,” said President Glover. “Our world renowned band is one of the university’s greatest ambassadors. Band members will have center stage in front of nearly 20,000 sorority members and special guests to showcase their talents. The performance will be a proud moment for me and for the institution.”

The band is a part of several performers scheduled for the 68th national conference for the sorority.  Glover noted she was pleased that friends and sponsors made the trip possible. This means the university will not incur costs or be responsible for paying transportation, food or lodging, another major incentive for the band. McDonald said he reminds band members they represent themselves, but most importantly TSU whenever they travel.

“While we are no strangers to being on a national stage, anytime the Aristocrat of Bands has an opportunity to perform anywhere, I always remind my students that the TSU on our chest is bigger than we are.  We represent the dreams and hopes of past, present and future alumni, as well as all of our stakeholders.”

In 2014, the AOB became the first collegiate band ever to be presented at halftime of the NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame game. The band and university made national headlines again in 2017 by accepting a special invitation from President Barack Obama to perform on the White House Lawn. Both President Glover and McDonald believe the presentation in Houston will continue to open more doors for the band and TSU.

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, 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.

TSU Partners With Man Up Health Collaborative to Promote Men’s Health

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is partnering with the Man Up Health Collaborative and Mt. Zion Baptist Church to bring awareness to issues surrounding men’s health.

Members of the health collaborative, which grew out of the Men’s Health Ministry at Mt. Zion, met with TSU staff members last week to discuss plans for a new project called the Summer Men’s Health Series.

The series, which will include a One Million Steps in 100 Days campaign, kicked off June 2 with a Man-Up Men’s Health Symposium at Mt. Zion’s Antioch location and will culminate on Sept. 8 with a 5K walk/run at Tennessee State University.

Gerald Davis, TSU director of Intramural Sports and the Ralph H. Boston Wellness Center, said initiatives like this one are needed to encourage men to adopt healthier lifestyles.

Gerald Davis, TSU director of Intramural Sports and the Ralph H. Boston Wellness Center

“Most guys have this negative stigma about working out,” Davis said. “They think it’s all about getting bigger, stronger and faster, but when you are in your 40s and 50s, it’s just about maintaining wellness, just wanting to be in shape and do things longer without getting tired.”

Dr. Dedrick E. Moulton, associate professor of Pediatrics at the Vanderbilt Medical Center and the driving force behind the effort, said the project grew out of his personal struggle to live a healthier life.

“Men don’t tend to pay much attention to their health. They will find almost anything else to do to avoid taking care of it, and I most certainly fell into that same category despite being a medical professional,” Moulton said. “What we are really looking to do is let men know that when they choose to neglect their health, it impacts more than just them. It impacts their families, their wives, their children and all their loved ones.”

Moulton said the collaborative seeks to become a “resource bank” for men hoping to live healthier lives. He said the symposium on Saturday will include blood pressure and diabetes screenings as well as interactive sessions focused on mental health and stress management, fitness and nutrition, cardiology and heart health, and developing a health checklist.

“If you attend the symposium you will see that following the medical presentation, we will have real people who will tell you how they had diagnoses and made changes,” he said. “Then we will even follow that up with fitness experts and tell you how to get started.”

According to Moulton, the One Million Steps in 100 Days campaign is based on the American Heart Association’s recommendation for people to take10,000 steps a day. He said the collaborative is encouraging men throughout Nashville to participate, especially men who attend Mt. Zion or work at TSU.

While Davis said making health changes is about taking slow steps and setting realistic goals, he also said men need to make health a priority and get sound advice, which he and his staff are ready to provide to members of the TSU community.

“It’s about challenging yourself. If you go to work at 8 a.m., you may have to get up at 5 a.m., get everybody together, come on in workout, shower and then leave,” he said. “Everybody is looking for that perfect box to fit in work and working out, but sometimes it just doesn’t work that way. Take a lunch break. Do it right after work. But you have got to get into a habit of doing something for your body. If not, nine times out of 10, it will come back and catch up with you.”

Davis recommended the walking/running tracks at the Hadley Park Regional Center for people who are not students or employees at the university. He said in the near future he hopes to make the wellness center available to family members of TSU employees as well as alumni.

Moulton said the group hopes men will bring their families to participate in the 5K walk/run scheduled for Sept. 8.

“It is more than just men that we are seeking to run,” he said. “We want men to run with their kids and their wives. And if you can’t run, walk with them.”

For more information about the Man Up Health Collaborative and the Summer Men’s Health Series, contact Dr. Dedrick Moulton at manuphealthfit@gmail.com.

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, 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.

Local TSU alumni chapter hosts president and administrators, spurs enhanced partnership

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – A presentation by Tennessee State University President Glenda Glover was the only agenda item for the Nashville Alumni Chapter meeting held Tuesday night in the Floyd-Payne Campus Center in the Robert N. Murrell Forum.

The meeting, which lasted a little over two hours, was led by TSU Nashville Alumni Chapter President Dwight Beard.

“We have to support Dr. Glover.  She has made it clear where she is trying to take the institution,” said Beard, a 1974 TSU alum.  “We as the alumni have to love and support TSU, get involved with the activities, mentor our students and give back to the institution.”

Beard said TSU alums across the nation need to “support the president by motivating students to come to TSU, and not only TSU, but all HBCUs.”

After a brief introduction by Beard, Glover updated local alumni on advancements the university has made in the areas of retention recruitment, enrollment, and marketing.

A little over 100 attendees listened attentively as Glover enthusiastically recounted her personal involvement in recruiting two of Memphis’ top high school seniors, Meaghen Jones and Jayla Woods, whose combined scholarship awards equal close to $19 million.

Glover informed attendees about upcoming changes to the campus landscape, including the addition of a new Health Sciences Building, two new residence halls, the Field Research Organic Laboratory, the Gateway Arch Entrance, a new engineering building and the Alumni House and Welcome Center.

Alumni also learned about a half million dollar gift from the family of the late Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr., that will be used to establish an endowed scholarship fund in honor of the TSU alumnus and renown heart surgeon.

Following the president’s presentation, members of the audience were given an opportunity to ask questions and share their ideas and concerns.

“The meeting was great.  It was an awesome way of updating the alumni regarding the efforts of President Glover and her team to make Tennessee State University the best that it can be,” said Vivian Wilhoite,  a 1987 alumnae of TSU who serves as the Property Assessor for Davidson County.

Wilhoite said she was impressed by what the president is doing to move the university forward.

“It was just wonderful.  It says that we have a vision.  It says that the president has a plan. It says that President Glover is saying, ‘Hey.  Join us. We need you. We appreciate all who have been involved, but we want to reignite the spirit of those people who haven’t been involved by letting them know we have been doing those things you have expected of us to grow our great 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, 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.

TSU Alum Garners National Acclaim With Comedy Series #WeirdMYAH

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – How does a Magna Cum Laude Animal Science/Pre-Veterinary Medicine graduate from one of the nation’s top historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) become an award-winning filmmaker?

That’s a good question for 27-year-old Myah Naomi Lipscomb, a 2013 alumna of Tennessee State University and creator of the comedy series #WeirdMYAH. Lipscomb, along with a host of TSU alums, are garnering national acclaim with their original comedy series, which is currently being featured in the Tennessee Episodic Showcase division of the Nashville Film Festival.

“I feel so blessed, and I am so happy,” said Lipscomb. “I would not have thought when I was working at the animal hospital and not loving it that in just a couple of years I could say that I am doing what I love.”

Members of the #WeirdMYAH cast and crew after winning Best TV Pilot for “#photobomb” at the National Black Film Festival (Houston, Texas) Left to Right: Brandon Lee W., Kelly Keri Greer, Myah Naomi Lipscomb, Jennifer Mkoma, and Lanial D. Madden

#WeirdMYAH, which recently took home the Best TV Pilot Award at the National Black Film Festival in Houston, for its full length episode #photobomb, screens Wednesday, May 16, at 6 p.m. at Regal Hollywood Stadium 27.

In the television comedy, Myah Bridges, portrayed by Lipscomb, is a student at historically black Lloyd University. She struggles to overcome the conflicts in her problematic life, created by the stress of college, lack of income, and her social awkwardness. Overtime, Myah learns to deal with her uniqueness by embracing her individuality, but her quest for normalcy has its obstacles.

Lipscomb and the pilot’s director and cowriter, Kelly Keri Greer, both graduates of TSU, earned MFA’s in Film and Creative Media from Lipscomb University in 2017. The two are just part of a long list of TSU alums involved with the project.

“I think when I first tried to pursue it years ago, it just wasn’t the right season for it,” Lipscomb said. “And I think me going to graduate school and really learning the craft and learning the field, I needed that. Me networking with other filmmakers and actors, I needed that. And all of us together is what has really branded this project into what it is now.”

Greer, a Memphis-native who graduated from TSU with a B.A. in Mass Communications, said the cast and crew of #WeirdMYAH are like a family.

“We are always together, and not only do we work together, we work well together,” she said. “We’re there for long periods of time together on set, but we can actually go and spend our own personal time with one another, so we are really a family, and I think that’s probably the most rewarding part of being a part of this project.”

Greer, like Lipscomb, said attending TSU played a major role in her success.

“We only had one film professor at TSU, Melissa Forte, and she really taught us everything from beginning to end,” Greer said. “We had editing classes with her. We had screenwriting classes with her, and she really taught us the basics of film including production and being your own producer, like being an independent filmmaker. With those tools you really can’t go wrong.”

Lipscomb’s rendezvous with TSU goes back much further. Her grandfather, Dr. Roland Norman, worked at TSU for nearly 40 years, ultimately serving as dean of the College of Agriculture and Home Economics. Her grandmother, Naomi Norman, worked as a nurse in the Queen Washington Student Health Center at TSU throughout her professional career.

Their children, including Myah’s mother, Chandra Norman Lipscomb, grew up on the TSU campus. Myah’s mother eventually attended TSU and became Miss TSU 1979-1980. She worked at the university in various capacities, including teaching in the Department of Communications, serving as a campus administrator, working in the College of Business, and eventually serving as the coordinator of International Student Services and Cultural Programming in the Office of International Affairs before her recent retirement.

As a student at TSU, Myah served as Miss Freshman 2009-2010. She also served on the student government association as representative-at-large and speaker of the house.

An accomplished actress, Norman Lipscomb said she sees a lot of herself in Myah.

“I look at Myah, and a lot of the things she is doing, she got from me. Myah grew up watching me doing my performances and what not, but we never knew she had a desire for the arts or for communications because she would always talk about being a veterinarian,” she said. “To be honest, she was afraid to let her dad and I know that that was the area she wanted because she thought we wanted her to be a veterinarian.”

As a mother, Norman Lipscomb said she sees the hard work her daughter puts into her craft and believes it is the key to her success.

“I personally see what no one else sees. I see Myah getting up to go to the gym at 5 a.m., coming back and working whether it is #WeirdMYAH, editing a project, getting ready to go film a music video, whatever,” she said. “She is working most of the time, and this is like a labor of love for her.“

Myah encourages other young people to pursue their passion.

Myah Naomi Lipscomb – Creator, Executive Producer, Actress, & Editor of #WeirdMYAH

“Whether it’s in film, whatever field you are passionate about, I think you need to follow your passion, and follow your heart, and you’ll get there,” Lipscomb said. “You just need to take that first step and not be afraid.”

Lipscomb said the next step for #WeirdMYAH is to pitch the show to networks and streaming platforms. She hopes to use her journey as a filmmaker to revitalize positive, entertaining content that highlights African Americans.

Other TSU alums involved in the project include the cinematographer, Joseph Patrick; cast and crew members Lanial Madden, Kala Ross, Chelsea Smith Brand Lee W., Asia Jones, Joe Major, Clarke Howard, Evony Thompson and Lauren Waller; and filmmaker Spencer Glover, who also graduated with an MFA from Lipscomb and has worked as a director on the miniseries.

The five episode web-based miniseries of #WeirdMYAH is available online at www.myahnaomi.com/weirdmyah. To purchase tickets for the May 16 screening of the full length episode, #photobomb, visit www.nashvillefilmfestival.org.

 

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, 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.

TSU Student Finds His Way “To The Top” As Author of Children’s Books

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – One brief conversation with Tennessee State University senior Deontae Henderson, and it becomes clear that he is an undeniable force of inspiration and positivity.

Each morning, the 21-year-old Minneapolis, Minnesota native begins his podcast, Just Deontae, by proclaiming to the world, “I can’t stop until I make it to the top.” For Henderson, making it “to the top” is not just a catch phrase; it’s a way of life, as well as the title of his first children’s book.

To The Top tells the story of a turtle named Koa who overcomes numerous obstacles during his quest to make it to the top of a mountain. On his journey, Koa encounters various animals that discourage him from reaching his destination. However, Koa exercises persistence and determination until he reaches his goal.

Like Koa, Henderson’s story is one of overcoming obstacles. In fact, his mother, Evette Henderson, said his writing started as a result of her finding constructive ways to discipline her son when he was in grade school.

“When Deontae was young, he had to do a lot of time-outs because he wouldn’t listen. In his time-outs, he would have to read or write. He did a lot of writing,” she said. “When he would get in trouble at school, I would also have him come home and write out his five-year plan, and I still have some of the papers he would write for me.”

Henderson’s book, which can be purchased through Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Kindle, Nook, iBook, Xulon Press, and Mall of America, became the number one selling book by a local author at a Minneapolis Barnes and Noble, surpassing the sales of My Country, ‘Tis of Thee: My Faith, My Family, Our Future, a book written by Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress and the first nonwhite that Minnesota has ever elected to Congress.

The founder and CEO of an inspirational brand called S.M.O.O.V.E., which stands for Steady Moving On Our Visions Everyday, Henderson uses his company to create bracelets, apparel, and books to encourage and motivate others to pursue the best version of themselves.

“What I’m starting to realize is that those people we look up to, Steve Jobs, Stan Lee, Jim Henson who made the muppets, Jay-Z, P Diddy, and Ryan Cooglar who just made The Black Panther, all these people are just being big kids. And when you watch the interviews they say, ‘I’m just doing what I wanted to do as a kid,’” he said. “They are having fun doing what they are doing and they don’t see it as a job.”

A consummate optimist, Henderson said a great deal of his success can be credited to the training he received from his mother.

“She really taught us to believe in ourselves,” he said. “She gave us so much confidence that whenever we went to do anything, we thought, ‘Yeah we can accomplish it. This is easy for us.’ And she still does that. No matter what, she always has my back.”

After a disappointing introduction to college life, Henderson set his sites on attending TSU and becoming a walk-on member of the TSU Flying Tigers Track Team. In order to make the team, he had to impress Olympic Gold Medalist and TSU Track Coach Chandra Cheeseborough.

“He found Coach Cheese, and he e-mailed her. At first she denied him, but he just kept contacting her, and she finally told him he could come and do a walk on,” Henderson’s mother said. “I just packed all our stuff, and we basically went on faith. We just threw all his stuff in my truck and I drove him to TSU, and that’s how he got there. He’s been there ever since.”

Cheeseborough said Henderson, who graduates Cum Laude next weekend from TSU with a bachelor of science in mass communications, has what it takes to be successful.

“I am proud of Deontae, and what he has accomplished as an author,” she said. “He has a spirit of determination, and that will take him a long way.”

Henderson, who recently released his second children’s book, Momma Bear, which is available on Amazon, said being an author brings him great joy.

“When I am able to write a story, put it out there, and receive a profit from my own ideas and what I love to do, that’s actually the best feeling ever,” he said.

To listen to Henderson’s daily inspirational podcast, visit https://apple.co/2r1ypTw or https://spoti.fi/2qZG4Bw .

 

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, 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.