Category Archives: Alumni

Tennessee State University Receives Best Value School Designation for 2017

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is a Best Value School for 2017.

TSU was among 80 universities and colleges nationwide to receive the designation by University Research and Review, a technology platform that researches, reviews and suggests colleges, universities and career schools.

According to the UR&R website, institutions receiving the Best Value School designation are “good, reasonably priced colleges loved by students and alumni, and selected based on research by higher education experts.”

These institutions also offer students a unique balance of academics, student life and financial manageability, the site said.

The 2017 Best Value School designation is just one of many national recognitions TSU has received recently.

Earlier this year, the university was ranked No.7 in the nation as the Most Affordable Online College for RN and MSN Programs. This followed TSU’s MSN program’s No. 2 ranking among the 50 Best Graduate Nursing Schools in America for 2016.

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 25 graduate and seven doctoral programs. 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 excels in Providing Interns for mayor’s Opportunity NOW Program

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is putting more students to work this summer under Mayor Megan Barry’s Opportunity NOW program.

A report from the mayor’s office shows that 51 TSU students applied for positions with the program, more than any other university or college in the Davidson County area.

An initiative launched earlier this year by Mayor Barry, Opportunity NOW seeks to provide young people in Davidson County access to employment.

Treasure Giddens, a senior chemistry major from Detroit, is one of the TSU student interns in the program this year. She will work as a peer coach at McGavock High School.

“I am excited about the opportunity to mentor students, something I have always loved to do,” Giddens said.

Through its Experiential Learning and Job Development office, TSU’s Career Development Center partnered with the mayor’s workforce development team to see how TSU students could benefit from the program.

Charles Jennings, the center’s director, said “the response was great.”

“We were presented with an opportunity to provide students for the program,” Jennings said. “As a team, we marketed it heavily to a lot of students who came to our office who were looking for summer internships. To hear from the mayor’s office that we topped other schools just goes to show how well prepared our students are to embrace the workforce.”

The goal is to hire 9,000 young people — ages 15-24 — for summer employment with businesses and organizations around Nashville.

“We want to connect youth to hope, and that means connecting them to opportunity and jobs,” Barry said at the launching of the program. “I want for our youth what I want for everyone in our city – a chance to succeed.”

Christina Smith is also participating in the program.  A senior psychology major from Memphis, she is thinking about teaching after graduate school. She is assigned to Hunters Lane High School, where she will teach job training skills to students.

“I think this is a great opportunity for me to just get a feel of how kids younger than me operate and how to go about interacting with them,” Smith said.

On how TSU was able to attract so many students to the Opportunity NOW program in such a short period, Chandria Harris, coordinator of Experiential Learning and Job Development, said “teamwork and getting all departments involved was very helpful.”

“From Tiger Track to collaborating with other colleges and coordinators and directors, posting the information, and going after students who needed internships, we were able to capture the 51 students,” Harris said.

The partnership with Opportunity NOW is just one of many efforts the Career Development Center has initiated to expose TSU students to career and job opportunities.

That, combined with the level of job-readiness preparation students are receiving in the classroom, is making TSU graduates more attractive to potential employers.

For instance, a number of students who received degrees at TSU’s May commencement are fully employed at some of the nation’s major companies, such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Bank of America, BMW and Raytheon.

“I am so pleased with the innovative and exemplary work executed by our CDC team,” said Dr. Jame’l Hodges, assistant vice president for administrative support in TSU’s Division of Student Affairs. “The CDC team and overall Division of Student Affairs will continue to raise the bar in meeting industry standards, and aligning with high- impact practices all while upholding the mission of TSU.”

For more information about TSU’s Career Development Center, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/careers/

 

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 25 graduate and seven doctoral programs. 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.

 

Tennessee State University’s Amber Hughes Voted OVC Female Athlete of the Year

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) Tennessee State University women’s track and field All-American Amber Hughes has been named Ohio Valley Conference Female Athlete of the Year for 2016-17.

The OVC office made the announcement on Wednesday, May 24.

Hughes, who won the honor after a vote by the conference’s athletic directors and sports information directors, will receive her award on June 2 at the OVC’s annual Honors Brunch at DoubleTree Nashville Downtown. It marks the 13th major OVC award for Hughes in her career.

For her career, Amber Hughes has won 26 OVC individual gold medals. (Courtesy photo)

Hughes is the second-ever TSU female student-athlete to win the award since its inception in 1981. Fellow track star Clairwin Dameus was TSU’s first female award winner when she took home the honor last year.

Throughout the year, Hughes, a senior, has been a dominant force for the Tigerbelles. During the indoor season, the Atlanta native repeated as OVC Track Athlete of the Year and OVC Field Athlete of the Year – the only student-athlete in conference history to accomplish the feat. Hughes went on to win four gold medals at the OVC Indoor Championship, as well as an individual silver, and one with the 4x400m relay team en route to Female Athlete of the Championship honors.

Continuing her indoor season, Hughes secured USTFCCCA Second Team All-America honors for the triple jump after placing 11th at the 2017 NCAA Indoor Championships in College Station, Texas.

Hughes continued to reel in honors during the outdoor season, winning OVC Field Athlete of the Year. At the OVC Outdoor Championship, Hughes accounted for three individual gold medals, plus one in the 4x400m relay, as well as one individual bronze. She was again awarded Female Athlete of the Championship.

For her career, Hughes has won 26 OVC individual gold medals.

She has two more opportunities to don the TSU uniform in competition. She will compete in the NCAA East Preliminary Round set for May 25-27 in Lexington, Kentucky, and hopes to qualify for the NCAA National Championships scheduled for June 7-10 in ­Eugene, Oregon.

As a whole, TSU has now had four OVC Athlete of the Year honorees: Carlos Rogers (1994 – Men’s Basketball), Charles Anthony (2005 – Football), Clairwin Dameus (2016- Women’s Track and Field), and Amber Hughes (2017 – Women’s Track and Field).

AMBER HUGHES MAJOR OVC AWARDS
2017 OVC Female Athlete of the Year (All Sports)
2017 OVC Outdoor Championship MVP
2017 OVC Outdoor Field Athlete of the Year
2017 OVC Indoor Track Athlete of the Year
2017 OVC Indoor Field Athlete of the Year
2017 OVC Indoor Championship MVP
2016 OVC Outdoor Championship MVP
2016 OVC Outdoor Field Athlete of the Year
2016 OVC Indoor Track Athlete of the Year
2016 OVC Indoor Field Athlete of the Year
2015 OVC Outdoor Championship MVP
2014 OVC Indoor Freshman of the Year
2014 OVC Outdoor Freshman of the Year

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 25 graduate and seven doctoral programs. 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 Engineering Students Excel in Building Transport Vehicle for Military Special Operations Forces

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Students from TSU’s College of Engineering were praised recently for their design of a special transport vehicle for the U.S. Air Force Special Operations Forces.

They were among students from nine other institutions who competed in the annual University Design Challenge last month at Arnold Air Force Base in Tullahoma, Tennessee.

Nine students and their advisers from the TSU College of Engineering participate in the 2017 Annual University Design Challenge at Arnold Air Force Base in Tullahoma, Tennessee. (Submitted photo)

The three-day competition, organized by the Air Force Research Laboratory, brings together different student teams from around the country to compete for top honors in a task assigned by the AFRL.

Teams were given two semesters to develop, design and build a prototype of their project for the competition that ended April 13.

The physical and mental stress of carrying heavy loads causes significant performance degradation and injury during training and while conducting military operations, according to AFRL officials.

During these missions, operators typically carry more than 100 pounds of gear, and require resupply of mission gear and equipment.

This year, the teams were to design a resupply device that operates manually, or autonomously programmed or controlled, to haul items on rough and unimproved surfaces. The device must be able to carry a minimum 350 pounds of gear, traveling two miles at a speed of 3-25 miles per hour without refueling. It must also be able to traverse narrow paths, climb steps, and navigate over rocks and log gaps.

The TSU student team designed, built and demonstrated an autonomous vehicle that met the required specifications.

“We were really happy with our performance,” said TSU team-member Charles McFadden, a mechanical engineering major, who graduated May 6. “Our team put in a lot of work. It turned out probably better than we thought we could do in that short period of time and the resources given to us.”

He said judges were very happy with the TSU design, calling their team “the best they have had from TSU.”

Dr. Landon Onyebueke, professor of mechanical engineering at Tennessee State, was one of the faculty advisers on the TSU team. He said the students’ performance was above average.

“The project actually was very good for the students,” Onyebueke said. “The design performed very well. They put a lot into it. It was a very good practice for the students.”

Dr. S. Keith Hargrove, dean of TSU’s College of Engineering, said the college has maintained a strong partnership with AFRL for more than 20 years that offers internships and helps TSU students conduct major research.

“We remain committed to this partnership and appreciate the support from AFRL, Clarkson Aerospace, and other partners in preparing our engineers for the workforce,” Hargrove said.

Other members of the TSU team were: Antony Currie, electrical engineering; Kevin Scott, electrical engineering; Larry Perdue, electrical engineering; Donald Toohey, mechanical engineering; Michael Winters, mechanical engineering; William Sanders, computer science; Ryan Brisentine, computer science; and Danielle Haik, computer science.

Dr. Fenghui Yao, professor of computer science, was the other TSU student adviser.

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 25 graduate and seven doctoral programs. 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.

Tennessee State University to receive nearly $500K federal grant to expand nationally recognized goat research

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University will receive nearly half a million dollars from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to expand its research on goat meat production.

The USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture on May 16 announced 47 grants totaling almost $17.5 million to improve sustainable agriculture and help rural communities thrive.

Tennessee State leads the nation in research that seeks to boost goat production in the U.S., and plans to use its $496,328 grant to enhance that research.

“We’re pleased that we’re able to get funding to continue our line of investigation on meat goat breeds and their comparative performance,” said Dr. Richard Browning, the lead goat researcher in TSU’s College of Agriculture, Human and Natural Sciences.

Nationwide, agriculture researchers say there’s a demand for goat meat because of a growing population of ethnic groups within the U.S. that consume it, not to mention an increasing number of Americans who are choosing goat over other meats, like chicken and beef, because dietitians say it’s healthier.

To meet the demand, much of the goat meat now in the U.S. is imported from other countries. But TSU’s research, which started in 2002, seeks to change that.

Emily Hayes, a TSU graduate student and research assistant, among some of the breeding does. (Photo by Joan Kite, TSU Public Relations)

“I probably give 10, 12 talks a year across the country on the research,” Browning said. “We have a lot of ethnic groups that have goat as a main part of their diet, and that’s why there’s a demand for goat meat. But we don’t produce enough here.”

TSU’s research herd is comprised of approximately 250 breeding does representing diverse sets of Boer, Kiko, Spanish, Myotonic and Savanna genetics.

Browning said the latest funding from the USDA will mainly be used to study the fifth meat goat breed recently brought into the research program.

“This project is targeting the Savanna goats, which is one of the newer breeds that the industry is looking at as a possible source of improved animal performance,” Browning said.

He said the research is shared with producers, farmers, to help them be more effective in their goat production.

“The other part of this project is to train producers in the detection and management of internal parasites,” said Browning, adding that TSU will be working with goat researchers at Alabama A&M University.

Delicious dish of goat meat at Jamaicaway restaurant in Nashville. (Photo by Courtney Buggs, TSU Media Relations).

Goat meat is naturally lean, meaning it is much lower in saturated fat and cholesterol, having a naturally higher HDL count (the good cholesterol) and a naturally low LDL count (the bad kind of cholesterol), according to the National Kiko Registry. It is also lower in calories than other meats, like beef, and is easier to digest.

Dr. Sandria Godwin is a family and consumer science professor at TSU, as well as a registered dietitian. She has worked with Dr. Browning to produce goat meat recipes.

“It is definitely a healthier choice,” Godwin said.

Heritage Foods USA is an online butcher based in Brooklyn, New York, that supports farmers who raise livestock, including goats. Its cuts are sold to customers in all 50 states, as well as carried in 130 restaurants from New York City to Los Angeles.

The company is an advocate for more U.S. production of goat meat.

“Goats are environmentally low-maintenance and easy to raise,” said Patrick Martins, co-founder of Heritage Foods. “Goat is actually the most widely consumed meat in the world – and America is slowly learning what the rest of the world already knows – that goat meat is delicious, lean, versatile, healthy, and sustainable.”

To learn more about Tennessee State University’s goat research, visit: http://www.tnstate.edu/faculty/rbrowning/.

 

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 25 graduate and seven doctoral programs. 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.

 

The Robinsons share fond memories of TSU sparking their 52-year union

Although native Floridians, Freddie L. and Dr. Susie Blocker Stewart Robinson, Sr. , were only two hours away from each other in their hometowns of Fort Pierce and Sanford, respectively. It was an 11-hour trip up the road to Nashville, Tennessee that created the setting for this couple to meet.

The voice of the late powerhouse blues and jazz vocalist, Etta James, rocked the then-Tennessee A & I State University Homecoming dance in 1962, which provided the perfect backdrop for a chance meeting between the future husband-and-wife.

The Robinsons2
The Robinsons celebrate their 50th class reunion together at TSU. (Photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

“That’s how I met him in 1962,” said Susie, still beaming over her college sweetheart. “I stepped on his foot at the homecoming dance.”

Three years later, they were married on February 8, 1965.

At that moment, they became inseparable, spending 52 years of their lives still doing everything “together,” Susie said, including celebrating as Golden Vintagers marking their 50th anniversary as TSU graduates during the annual event held earlier this month.

The two, who were both the first to graduate from college in their families, remember those times on TSU’s campus as a place that felt much like the family they left many miles away.

“My memory of TSU was that something was always going on,” said Freddie, who earned his bachelor’s degree in political science in 1967 and even ran for president of the freshman class. “It was full of activity.”

“The campus was very exciting,” added Susie, who earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education in 1967. “People were close and friendly. People would help you when you were in need.”

Over the years, education became an important career path for the couple with emphasis placed on continuing their studies in the field. Freddie attended the University of Northern Colorado, earning a master’s in curriculum and instruction from Nova Southeastern University and a certificate in administration and supervision from Florida International University. Susie furthered her studies at Nova University in Fort Lauderdale, earning a master’s in administration and supervision, and a doctorate in educational leadership from Nova Southeastern University.

The duo has enjoyed long careers in education, and credit TSU for giving them their foundation to be successful. Both are long-time educators and administrators with Miami-Dade County Public Schools. Freddie retired in 2004, having served in many roles, including assistant principal and Principal’s Designee. Susie, who retired in 2016, was an elementary teacher, assistant principal, and principal receiving recognition as “Teacher of the Year” and “Mentor Principal of the Year.” Between the two, they have more than 70 years of dedicated commitment to academic excellence.

They remain active in the community and hold life memberships in their respective affiliations of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. They are also members of the Miami Alumni Chapter of Tennessee State University, and currently serve as University Supervisors for Pre-Student Teachers and Internships at Florida Memorial University in Miami Gardens.

Since the inception of the Vintagers program in 1971, Freddie and Susie have come back to every single one. But the year 2017 has been a little extra special.

“We are so energized and excited to share in this milestone,” Susie said. “I am just so thankful and extremely proud.”

 

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 25 graduate and seven doctoral programs. 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.

 

Tennessee State University holds open house for new Executive MBA program

Nashville, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University’s College of Business held an open house on May 11 to showcase its new Executive MBA program.

unspecified-2
Dr. Millicent Lownes-Jackson, dean of TSU’s College of Business, speaks to open house attendees. (Submitted photo)

The event, which had a strong turnout, took place at the Loews Vanderbilt Hotel in Nashville. The hotel will also serve as the program’s weekend residency.

“TSU’s Executive MBA Program enhances the vibrancy of the Nashville area’s graduate education tapestry by offering an affordable, convenient, accredited, business curriculum for busy business professionals who desire to catapult their careers to a higher level of success,” said Dr. Millicent Lownes-Jackson, dean of the College of Business. “In one short year, EMBA program participants will acquire critical business knowledge, along with readily applicable global business and leadership strategies, that will enable them to make an immediate and profound impact.”

The 12-month program, which starts in the fall, is delivered in a hybrid format consisting of both in-person and online course offerings. Program participants also have the opportunity to spend 10 days studying outside the United States to broaden their understanding of global leadership.

Frederick Cawthon of Nashville was among those who attended the open house. The 48-year-old, who works in product management, had a daughter to graduate during TSU’s undergraduate commencement earlier this month, and another is a TSU sophomore seeking a degree in business.

unspecified-3While he likes the idea of keeping TSU in the family, Cawthon said the university’s EMBA program is appealing because he believes it will make him more competitive in the workforce.

“It’s an opportunity to network, to become more knowledgeable, more talented; to raise the bar,” Cawthon said.

Dr. Steve Shanklin is one of the program’s instructors. He will be teaching a managerial and decision-making course that he said provides a quantitative and qualitative assessment of good decisions.

Shanklin believes Nashville businesses will benefit from TSU’s EMBA program, as well as the participants.

“Every small firm in town, every medium-size firm, and even those that are world-class operations in our city,” Shanklin said, “they’re strengthened by having stronger people with better decision skills and a dedication to the Nashville area. TSU plays a big part in that.”

Jim Schmitz, area president for Regions  Bank, agreed.

“Tennessee State University’s Executive MBA program will strengthen Nashville’s workforce by providing participants with the knowledge to be even better business leaders,” Schmitz said.

Dr. Mark Hardy, TSU’s vice president for academic affairs, said the program’s instructors are top-notch.

“We believe that with the caliber of individuals who will be teaching, the program is going to be very exciting,” he said.

 For more information about the EMBA program, visit www.tnstate.edu/mba.

 

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 25 graduate and seven doctoral programs. 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’s Amber Hughes Voted OVC Field Athlete of the Year

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State women’s track and field All-American Amber Hughes added to her decorated career by earning Ohio Valley Conference Field Athlete of the Year for the outdoor season.

The award, which is voted  on by the league’s head coaches, was announced by the league office on Thursday, May 11.

For Hughes, who also won OVC Indoor Track Athlete of the Year and Indoor Field Athlete of the Year this season, it is her 11th major award from the OVC during her career.

The senior from Atlanta currently ranks sixth in the nation in the triple jump thanks to a distance of 13.62m (44’8.25”) at the North Florida Invitational. Her long jump distance of 6.21m (20’4.5”) is good for second among OVC student-athletes and is 47th in the nation.

On the track, Hughes is currently first in the OVC and tied for 36th nationally in the 100m hurdles (13.35).

Throughout this outdoor season, the OVC has honored Hughes with three Field Athlete of the Week awards and one Track Athlete of the Week honor.

The three-day OVC Championship in Oxford, Alabama, gets underway May 11 and runs through May 13.

AMBER HUGHES MAJOR OVC AWARDS
2017 OVC Outdoor Field Athlete of the Year
2017 OVC Indoor Track Athlete of the Year
2017 OVC Indoor Field Athlete of the Year
2017 OVC Indoor Championship MVP
2016 OVC Outdoor Championship MVP
2016 OVC Outdoor Field Athlete of the Year
2016 OVC Indoor Track Athlete of the Year
2016 OVC Indoor Field Athlete of the Year
2015 OVC Outdoor Championship MVP
2014 OVC Indoor Freshman of the Year
2014 OVC Outdoor Freshman of the Year

 

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 25 graduate and seven doctoral programs. 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.

 

Grandmother finishes what she started, gets TSU degree after 55 years

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Darlene Mullins would always tell her children to finish what they started. On May 6, the 72-year-old grandmother did just that when she received her degree from Tennessee State University after 55 years.

mullins_flag
Darlene Mullins at undergraduate commencement ceremony. (Photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

Mullins was among more than 800 graduates from various disciplines at the undergraduate spring commencement in the William Jasper Hale Stadium on Tennessee State’s main campus.

“I am very excited and just overjoyed to see this day,” said Mullins, who graduated with honors.

For Mullins, the journey to earn a college degree began on TSU’s campus in 1962. But just as it started, it was cut short.

“Love got in the way,” said Mullins, who celebrates 54 years of marriage in August.

She met John Mullins, a senior from East St. Louis, Illinois, who she described as dashing and handsome, “everything to behold.”

Darlene, a former Miss New Jersey and Miss Glamour runner up, had an immediate crush.

“I thought he was the finest thing walking on the campus,” Darlene told Alumni Life, a campus magazine, in 2014.

She said a courtship developed and the two were married a short time later. John stayed on and completed his college work, graduating in 1964. Darlene took on the role of caring for their home and raising a family.

But in putting her education aside, Darlene also gave up on a dream of becoming an Olympic track star as a member of the famed Tigerbelles.

“I came to TSU because I ran track. I wanted to go to the 1964 Olympics,” Darlene said. “Wilma Rudolph was my idol and I was on my way. I get to TSU and meet the great coach (Ed) Temple, but we bumped heads, because I had to make a choice between his track team or Mr. John Mullins.”

More than a half century and two children and several grandchildren later, John and Darlene have remained very supportive of each other, while living in six states over the course of their marriage.

As the children grew older and family care got less, Darlene embarked on a long and successful career in retail and cosmetology.

All the while, John worked for a number of corporate and government agencies before starting his own business, Lions Group Inc., a successful marketing and advertising company in Dallas, Texas. He said his TSU education with a degree in business gave him a good foundation to be an entrepreneur.

“I always knew I wanted to own my own business,” John said.

But as the two moved around with success at every turn, Darlene never forgot her academic aspiration.

“Something kept nagging at me,” she said. “I always told my children to make sure they finish what they started and I kind of felt it was time to live up to my own advice.”

John and Darlene Mullins
John and Darlene Mullins will celebrate their 54th wedding anniversary in August. (Photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

She decided it was time to go back to school to get her degree. “John did not hesitate for one bit; he said ‘let’s go,’” Darlene said.

“I love this woman so much and always told her whenever you are ready we will go because this is something I knew she always wanted and I will do nothing to hold her back,” John said.

In July 2013, the couple moved back to Nashville to allow Darlene to finish what she started. She returned to TSU and pursued a degree in interdisciplinary studies, sometimes taking as many as 20 credit hours a semester, and earning top grades.

“My goal was to come back and finish at Tennessee State.  I didn’t know at the time how long it was going to take, I just knew I had to do it,” she said.

With the 25 credits she had accumulated before dropping out in 1963, Darlene is completing her college work in four years. A member of three honor societies, she is graduating summa cum laude.

“My graduation from college, for me, confirms that I completed what I started more than 50 years ago,” Darlene said. “I am happy.”

The Mullins’ children are Dr. John E. Mullins Jr. of Baskin Ridge, New Jersey, and Darchele Mullins Erskine of Chicago. They are the proud grandparents of Amber Mullins, Sierra Mullins, John E. Mullins III, and Brandon Forney.

 

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 25 graduate and seven doctoral programs. 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.

 

Graduates say goodbye to TSU, hello to jobs awaiting them

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Nationally syndicated radio personality Tom Joyner helped Tennessee State University showcase its excellence on Saturday.

Glover Joyner photo
TSU President Glenda Glover presents radio personality Tom Joyner with a tribute to his great aunt, Jane Elliott Hall, who has a building named in her honor at TSU. (photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

Joyner, host of The Tom Joyner Morning Show, delivered TSU’s undergraduate commencement address. More than 800 students received degrees in various disciplines at the spring ceremony in the William Jasper Hale Stadium on the main campus.

Joyner, who has long been a proponent of historically black colleges and universities, credits his mother and great aunt, Jane Elliott Hall. Elliott, who started TSU’s cafeteria program in its early days, has a building on campus named in her honor.

Joyner encouraged the graduates to “choose a cause and commit to making a change.”

“If I leave you with anything this morning, it’s to do what you can, and everybody can do something,” he said.

Mr. TSU Jordan Gaither, of Atlanta, was among Saturday’s graduates. Gaither said he met Joyner last year at the Southern Heritage Classic in Memphis, Tennessee, and that Joyner’s hard work ethic is inspirational.

“He’s definitely one of the hardest working people in the business,” said Gaither, who is majoring in exercise science with a minor in mass communications. “Radio is something I’m into. I’d like to be a radio personality one of these days.”

An entrepreneur and philanthropist, Joyner is a champion of historically black colleges and universities. His foundation, the Tom Joyner Foundation, supports HBCUs with scholarships, endowments, and capacity building enhancements.

Graduates celebrating 2
Class of 2017 celebrates. (photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

Since its creation in 1997, the foundation has raised more than $65 million to help students stay in school. Last year, the foundation selected TSU to be a “school of the month.” Under the designation, the foundation awarded scholarships to students throughout the month and featured TSU’s accomplishments on Joyner’s weekly morning program.

Also last year, the foundation entered into a partnership with TSU to help students interested in science, technology, engineering and math. Under the partnership, Memphis students graduating from five Tennessee community colleges will receive full scholarships to attend TSU.

“I established the Tom Joyner Foundation because I wanted to continue showing love to HBCUs,” Joyner said. “Schools like TSU make it easy to do.”

Students say the Tom Joyner partnership and other TSU initiatives – like the Career Development Center and the Women’s Center – have helped prepare them for the workforce, as well as find jobs.

Gaither, who has an internship lined up with the Tennessee Higher Education Commission and will be working with an NBA basketball team this summer, is one of a number of TSU graduates who have jobs waiting for them.

Maya Davis of Nashville, a computer science major, and electrical engineering major Cametria Weatherspoon of Memphis, will both be working for Lockheed Martin.

“Having a job after I graduate is a blessing,” Weatherspoon said. “I’m excited.”

While some students have jobs lined up, Joyner joked that for others, they may be asked when they are going to start making money.

Tom Joyner gives gift to graduate
TSU Undergraduate Commencement speaker Tom Joyner gives gift to graduate. (photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

“The answer is today,” he said, “I am going to give each graduate $5. Some will invest and may save it and put it with other Graduation money. Keep in touch and let me know what you did with it. But whatever you do with it, make it count.”

Also celebrating were TSU’s Class of 1967, who returned as Golden Vintagers. These alumni walked across the stage for a second time, receiving certificates recognizing their 50-year milestone.

Georgia native Alvin Hinkle, an accomplished attorney now residing in Columbia, South Carolina, returned for the Vintagers celebration.

“When I was on campus in 1967 it was during the Civil Rights era and there was a lot of activity,” said Hinkle, who was president of the Student Senate at the time. “I wanted to come back and see people I haven’t seen in 50 years. It’s good to be back.”

Vintagers
TSU’s Class of 1967 returns as Golden Vintagers. (photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

The evening before, graduate commencement participants received words of wisdom from Congressman Jim Cooper in TSU’s Howard C. Gentry Complex.

Cooper, who represents Middle Tennessee in the U.S. Congress, said before the event that he was “excited to honor Tennessee State University’s graduate class,” and that the “world is ready for their knowledge and leadership.”

Taking Cooper’s words to heart, graduate George Davis will put his TSU education to work at the U.S. Department of Agriculture where he has secured employment. Davis received a master’s in agricultural science with a concentration in data analysis and business management.

“You’ve got to seize every opportunity that you get,” said Davis, a Memphis native. “Having a job lined up just shows me how hard I’ve worked.”

Altogether, 1,067 TSU graduates – 266 grad and 801 undergrad – participated in the commencement ceremonies. Of the undergrads, 128 got degrees in nursing, 56 in criminal justice, 51 in business administration, and 50 in health sciences.

Student Government Association president Aarian Forman is one of the business administration majors who graduated. The Danville, Illinois, native said his experience at TSU has prepared him to be a “leader in the world.”

“TSU has made me think on a different level,” Forman said. “I was challenged to not just think on a local or national scale, but on a global scale.”

About Tennessee State University

With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 25 graduate and seven doctoral programs. 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.