All posts by Michael McLendon

Johnson Sworn In As Public Defender, Becomes Sixth TSU Alum To Currently Serve as First African American In Position In Metro Nashville Government

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University alum Martesha L. Johnson has reason to celebrate. She is the first African-American Metropolitan Public Defender for Nashville-Davidson County.

Her swearing-in ceremony, which was held Aug. 28 in Poag Auditorium in the Walter S. Davis Humanities Building, represents the crowning achievement of years of service Johnson has provided since she set her sites on being a public defender when she served as an intern with the Nashville Public Defenders Office in 2007.

“It was during that summer internship that I sort of decided, that’s exactly what I want to do! I knew that I had an interest in criminal law. I knew that I had an interest in being a trial lawyer. I learned that I was passionate about those things while I was at Tennessee State,” she said. “So when I had the internship in 2007, it sort of changed the course of what I wanted to do as a lawyer, and I immediately knew then I wanted to be a public defender.”

Johnson with TSU President Glenda Glover.

After graduating Summa Cum Laude from TSU in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in political science and a minor in English, Johnson immediately transitioned to law school at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville where she graduated in August 2008.

Johnson began volunteering as a licensed attorney at the Nashville office in August 2008 and worked nights at Macy’s to support her career. Her determination paid off when her predecessor, Dawn Deaner, offered her a position in January 2009, and she hasn’t looked back.

Johnson receiving special gift from Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority at Swearing-In Ceremony.

After the ceremony, Johnson became one of six TSU alums who currently serve as the first African Americans to hold their positions in Metro Nashville Government. The other five alums include: Criminal Court Clerk Howard Gentry, County Clerk Brenda Wynn, Property Assessor Vivian Wilhoite, Register of Deeds Karen Y. Johnson and Juvenile Court Clerk Lonell Matthews.

State Rep. Harold Moses Love Jr. (58th District-D), who is a TSU alum and also pastor of St. Paul’s AME Church, said TSU has a legacy of producing public servants.

The Temple Baptist Church Praise Choir perform “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

“Tennessee State University has always produced leaders that have blazed trails for others to follow. The significance of these six alums serving in Metro Nashville Government at this time points to the preparation that TSU provided for them, the confidence that they each had to seek election and the trust that the voters placed in them,” he said. “They embody our Univeristy Charge of ‘Enter to Learn, Go Forth to Serve.’”

Erica Gilmore, assistant dean of Student Contacts and Council Member at Large for the City of Nashville, shared similar sentiments.

TSU Aristocrat of Bands

“It’s truly unbelievable to have so many firsts to represent a consolidated government in so many different areas,” she said. “It’s significant because African-Americans make up 28 percent of Nashville. That means that these persons who have won have a very broad appeal, which is very important in the political arena. It means that TSU has a strong commitment to the community. When we say ‘Think. Work. Serve.’, I think the graduates are really doing that.”

Public officials from throughout Middle Tennessee attended the ceremony, including Nashville Mayor David Briley, Davidson County Property Assessor Vivian Wilhoite, who served as the mistress of ceremony. Musical selections were provided by the Aristocrat of Bands and the Temple Baptist Church Praise Choir, which shared a rousing rendition of James Weldon Johnson’s “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

 

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

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

Nashville’s First African-American Public Defender To Hold Swearing-In Ceremony at TSU

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University Alum Martesha L. Johnson will be sworn in as the first African-American to serve as the Metropolitan Public Defender for Nashville-Davidson County next week.

Johnson, who was officially elected on Aug. 2 and will take office on September 1, said she decided it was time for her to seek the position when Dawn Deaner, Nashville’s current Public Defender, announced that she would not seek another term.

Martesha Johnson

The swearing-in ceremony will take place on Tuesday, Aug. 28, at 6 p.m. in the Walter S. Davis Humanities Building at TSU. It represents the crowning achievement of years of service Johnson has given since she set her sites on being a public defender when she served as an intern with the Nashville Public Defenders Office in 2007.

“It was during that summer internship that I sort of decided, that’s exactly what I want to do! I knew that I had an interest in criminal law. I knew that I had an interest in being a trial lawyer. I learned that I was passionate about those things while I was at Tennessee State,” she said. “So when I had the internship in 2007, it sort of changed the course of what I wanted to do as a lawyer, and I immediately knew then I wanted to be a public defender.”

Johnson performed as a member of the Tennessee State Aristocrat of Bands Sophisticated Ladies Dance Line during her undergraduate years at TSU.

After graduating Summa Cum Laude from TSU in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and a minor in English, Johnson immediately transitioned to law school at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville where she graduated in 2008.

With her heart set on working in the Nashville Public Defenders Office, the newly licensed attorney met with the harsh reality that no new jobs were available at the office because of a hiring freeze caused by the economic recession.

“I made a decision that I was going to volunteer my services as a licensed attorney at the Nashviille office, and I did that,” said Johnson, who began volunteering in August 2008 and worked nights at Macy’s to support her career. Johnson’s determination paid off when Deaner offered her a position in January 2009, and she hasn’t looked back.

Since then Johnson has spent almost a decade serving Nashville by defending people who are accused of crimes but do not have the resources needed to hire an attorney.

“This job has been everything that I thought it would be. It is a great feeling to know that I really get to get up every single day to help people and advocate for people who need it the most,” she said. “My clients are poor. They have sometimes experienced trauma in their lives. They suffer from addictions, and a lot of things that contribute to their need to have a lawyer to represent them. I get to help them navigate through a system that is not always kind to poor people.”

Johnson with Retired TSU Assistant Professor of Pre-Law Julian W. Blackshear

Retired TSU Assistant Professor of Pre-Law Julian W. Blackshear said Johnson showed great promise during her undergraduate years at TSU.

“She stood out as being ambitious.   She really wanted to learn. She had a purpose for being in class. She soaked in everything I said, and she was hungry for legal knowledge,” said Blackshear, who founded the Pre-Law Department at TSU in 1975. “My standard quote to her all the time was ‘Succeed in spite of your obstacles, rather than fail because of them.’”

Johnson’s mother, Jacqueline Johnson, said MarTesha’s success serves as a source of inspiration for their entire family.

“This is one of the proudest moments not only for me personally but for my family as a whole. Martesha has always been very focused and very driven and has just excelled at everything she has put her hand to,” said Jaqueline, who earned her bachelor’s degree from TSU in psychology and went on to secure a master’s degree in public administration from the university in 2005, graduating the same day Martesha secured her undergraduate degree.

MarTesha Johnson with her mother, Jacqueline Johnson when the two graduated together from TSU in 2005. MarTesha earned her bachelor’s degree in Pre-Law with a minor in English, and Jacqueline earned her master’s degree in Public Administration.

“As she was growing up, I often used to tell her when I would drop her off at school, ‘Go forth and do well.’ And for me, this election as Public Defender has just been the culmination of her going forth and doing well,” said Jacqueline.

Blackshear said, with the election of Martesha, Davidson County is getting a “person of great character.”

“Martesha’s purpose embraces the notion that all people should be treated fairly, but with the end toward improving individuals to build people up rather than tearing them down. That’s the kind of person she is,” he said. “She is just one example of the many great students at Tennessee State University.”

 

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

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

 

TSU Alum Reegus Flenory Featured In New TBN Series ‘Smoketown’

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – It’s been over 20 years since Reegus Flenory did a double take after seeing an audition notice for the National Showcase Awards while strolling through the Communications Department at Tennessee State University.

“I read the brochure, and it was basically like a contest. It had acting, music and a lot of different things, and the winners would go on and compete in regionals and ultimately compete in California, so I competed,” said Flenory, a Nashville native who secured his bachelor’s degree in Speech Communication and Theatre at TSU. “I was 18 years old at the time, and I competed in the male category against all the adults, and I won best male actor for Tennessee.”

Audiences across the globe can see Flenory weekly as Dawson

Reegus Flenory

Chapman on Trinity Broadcast Network’s new, cutting edge dramatic television series “Smoketown.” Flenory said acting has always been in his DNA.

“I used to sit and watch television shows like “Knight Rider.” This was probably the early 80s, and I could say the lines before the actors said them. I understood what would come next in a script. It was the kind of thing that is kind of weird,” he said.

Those natural instincts, along with years of hard work, have translated into opportunities for Flenory to work with movie stars like Michael Ealey in the film “Unconditional” and Bill Cobbs in “Much Adieu About Middle School.”

In “Smoketown,” which premiered in early July, Flenory’s character, Dawson Chapman, runs a soup kitchen along with his daughter and wife. A mysterious and shocking murder takes place at the beginning of the series, which places the Chapman family at the center of a police investigation that sends the usually quiet community into a racial tailspin.

Much like his character in “Smoketown,” Flenory said faith has played a central role in his life and career. Reegus’ mother, Judy Flenory, a TSU alum who worked 15 years as a school counselor at Bordeaux Enhanced Option Middle School, said Reegus’ love for God and family has always been a big part of his life.

TSU Alums Reegus Flenory and Tamiko Robinson-Steele on the set of “Smoketown” with actress , Zoe Swope, who plays their daughter in the TBN television series.

“He is a very spiritual person, and I have always observed that he knew to always observe a higher power first before he does things, and that has kept him very stable because this is a very competitive field,” she said. “If you look over his career as a whole, most people probably won’t know the number of things he has done, and he has been very modest about it in my opinion. He has been involved with some well known actors and different venues, and to maintain that type of attitude in this type of business he is pursuing is a rarity.”

Reegus said he did numerous plays and free projects on and off campus during his time at TSU. “I wanted to stretch myself. I wanted to be the kind of actor who could do any kind of role.”

He said working with people like Herman Brady, a former TSU professor of Communications; and actor, director and voice-over artist Barry Scott helped him hone his craft.

“I learned a lot because we had to do everything ourselves. We had to go get props from Walmart and places like that. We had to actually get wood and nail the things together,” Reegus said. “We had to find our shows. We had to actually figure out which shows we wanted to do, and then get a budget for those shows—things that the kids really don’t have to do at a lot of the schools now.”

Reegus’ hard work paid off when he landed his first lead role in a BET (Black Entertainment Television) movie called “Winner Takes All” in 1998.

Henry Flenory, Reegus’ father, attributes a lot of his son’s success to his focus and passion.

“Usually when he does things that are out of town, I do the driving part while he studies the play or whatever he is intending on participating in,” said Henry, a retired principal who secured a master’s degree from TSU in 1978 in administration and supervision. “He has a lot of passion about what he does. He interacts with those persons in front of the camera and behind the camera and has a willingness to ask questions and to take in a lot of information.”

Evelyn Foster, office manager for Talent Trek-Nashville, one of the city’s premiere talent agencies, said Reegus has always been professional. After working with him over 20 years, Foster said she sees him like part of her family.

“Reegus is not only a great actor, but a great guy,” she said. “I think that is why he has come as far as he has.”

Reegus said working on set during the filming of “Smoketown” simply “felt right.”

“The energy on set was so positive with the crew, the cast and everyone involved,” Reegus said. “You felt the genuine spirit that the project was done in with the writer and director Shane Sooter and his wife Cassie.”

TSU alum Tamiko Robinson Steele, who portrays Amelia Chapman, Dawson’s wife in the series, said she is grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the project.

“I went in very nervous of the unexpected, but was pleasantly surprised to find a team that supported and cheered for each other,” she said.

Other Nashville actors featured in “Smoketown” include Clark Harris and Mykie Fisher.

To watch Smoketown online, visit https://www.tbn.org/programs/smoketown .

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

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

 

 

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 TSU’s campus July 8 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.