NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – “As TSU degree holders, you have been equipped with a high-quality education and the power to make a substantive change in the lives of people in your community and the world,” Dr. Shawn Joseph, a longtime educator, told the fall graduating class at Tennessee State University Saturday.
Joseph, director of Metro Nashville Public Schools, reminded the graduates of the role TSU students played to bring about social justice and change in Nashville and across the nation during the civil rights movement.
“It was only 58 years ago that brave students, who walked the same halls you have walked on this sacred land, strived to create a more just and equitable America.” Joseph said. “Those students, equipped with the same degree that you are earning today, understood that their lives had a purpose.”
At the commencement ceremony in the Gentry Complex, more than 700 received degrees in various disciplines. They included members of the inaugural class of the TSU Executive MBA program.
In her welcome remarks, TSU President Glenda Glover thanked Joseph for agreeing to be the fall commencement speaker, and congratulated the graduates for their accomplishments.
“You have endured and prepared yourselves to reach this goal which may have seemed unattainable, but you stuck with it,” Glover said. “You must always remember that you did not accomplish this goal all by yourselves. There were parents, relatives, friends and mentors who helped you along the way. Remember to thank them.”
In his speech, Joseph told the graduates that to be leaders for social justice, they must never be afraid to advocate for what is right, learn to persevere and be resilient, and remember that leaders serve people and purpose.
“Certainly, earning a degree is about educating yourself, and it is also about recognizing that you have a responsibility to help things go right for others,” Joseph said. “ Remember excellence comes from within, not from what you have. TSU has prepared you to find strength through your faith, your family, your friends and you can push forward. It’s not what people call you it’s what you answer to.”
Kelley Williams, a Nashville native, who received a bachelor’s degree in social work with high honors, said she was inspired by Joseph’s speech.
“I listened to every word keenly and especially what he said about the quality of a TSU degree,” said Williams, who plans on returning to TSU to pursue her master’s degree. “I love TSU and I am glad I came.”
Anthony Moreland, from Knoxville, Tennessee, who received his bachelor’s degree in biology, also with high honors, agreed with Williams on earning a TSU degree.
“Graduating today is a great accomplishment,” said Moreland, whose twin sister graduated from TSU a semester ahead of him. “Graduating for me is a big deal not only because I had to catch up with my sister but because I had a lot of family members who came here and did very well.”
Moreland plans on going to medical school, with Meharry Medical College his top choice.
NOTE: Featured photo by Ramona Whitworth-Wiggins
Department of Media Relations
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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.