Category Archives: Alumni

TSU Welcomes New Male Freshmen with Third Annual ‘Tied to Success’

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University first-time male freshmen packed Poag Auditorium on the main campus on Thursday evening for the third annual “Tied to Success,” a rite of passage for all incoming male students.

Dwight Beard, President of the Nashville Chapter of the TSUNAA, left, along with Mr. TSU Darian McGhee, greets students and participants at the 2018 “Tied to Success” ceremony in Poag Auditorium. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

As a welcome into the “Big Blue Brotherhood,” the young men were given TSU blue ties with the name of the university. For those individuals who needed help tying just the right knot, university officials and community leaders were on hand to provide assistance.

Dwight Beard, president of the Nashville Chapter of the TSU National Alumni Association, was among those demonstrating the art of tying the perfect knot. He applauded the program for helping the new students assimilate into the collegiate culture.

First-time male freshmen learn the art of tying the perfect knot at the ‘Tied to Success” ceremony. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

“It’s important for them to understand that wearing of the tie is essential because they will need one for job interviews,” Beard said. “They may end up with a job in the corporate world, like I did, where how you look matters.”

Before the tie tying and male bonding, TSU officials talked to the freshmen about how they should behave on campus, and in general.

“As these students embark on their college careers and prepare for the professional world, we want to help them develop good character and avoid anything that could hinder their future success,” said Frank Stevenson, TSU’s dean of students. “’Tied to Success’ is a step in that direction; we’re preparing them now.”

As Dean of Students Frank Stevenson makes opening remarks at the “Tied to Success” ceremony in Poag Auditorium, student leaders and upper class men demonstrate the look of a man dressed for business. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

Bryon Keith, a human resource management major from Louisville, Kentucky, who had never tied a tie before, said he appreciates the orientation and hopes other institutions will emulate TSU.

“’Tied to Success’ is a great representation at the university, and for us as young men,” Keith said.

For the third year, State Rep. Harold Love, Jr., a TSU alum, participated in the “Tied to Success” ceremony. Senior university male administrators, deans, faculty, staff, student government association leaders and upper class students joined him.

The Men’s Initiative Office in the Division of Student Affairs helped to coordinate “Tied to Success.” All together, there are more than 1,300 first-time freshmen enrolled at TSU this fall.

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 and Waffle House hero James Shaw Jr. to launch new charity

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – TSU alum and Waffle House hero James Shaw  Jr. will launch his new charity during an anti-violence rally at Tennessee State on Sunday, Aug. 26.

The event will begin at Hale Stadium and culminate in Kean Hall on TSU’s campus. Activities kick off at 2  p.m., and will include a celebrity basketball game.

Shaw said the mission of the James Shaw Jr. Foundation is to work with other like-minded organizations and community advocates to eradicate violence and address mental health issues, as well as provide support, tools and resources for individuals and families who have experienced severe violence and trauma.

“TSU is honored to be a part of this special event as Mr. James Shaw Jr. launches his foundation to address community issues and concerns that plague our neighborhoods. We are particularly pleased that TSU is a part of this kickoff event,” said TSU President Glenda Glover, who has set up a scholarship at the university in Shaw’s name.

“James could have easily stepped from the forefront and quietly gone on with his life. Instead, he has created a platform that allows him to be a voice for those who feel disenfranchised and have lost hope. His giving of himself speaks to his character and values.”

Four people were killed and several others wounded on April 22 when a gunman opened fire in a Waffle House in the Nashville suburb of Antioch.

Authorities have said there would have probably been more casualties had it not been for Shaw’s actions. He wrestled a rifle away from the gunman and tossed it over the counter before shoving the shooter out the door.

A few months ago, family members of the shooting victims attended a ceremony at TSU to honor those killed and wounded in the shooting. Shaw presented the victims with a check for more than $240,000. Immediately after the shooting, Shaw set up a GoFundMe campaign with a goal of $15,000. However, he raised much, much more.

And he plans to continue the giving with his James Shaw Jr. Foundation.

“We can only make real progress if we work together, stand collectively and care for one another,” said Shaw. “I will never let my life, or those lives we sadly lost, be in vain.”

 

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 helping Saudi students pulled from Canadian universities continue education

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is taking steps to help Saudi Arabian students pulled from universities in Canada continue their education.

TSU officials announced Tuesday that the University will expedite its admissions process for those students who were recently ordered to leave Canada. Saudi students transferring will receive an immediate reply once all their information is received. Application fees will also be waived.

“We were recently informed of the decision to remove all Saudi students from Canada during this critical time of enrollment and registration and have received numerous inquiries from their friends and family here in Nashville,” said TSU President Glenda Glover. “They are concerned and want our help.”

TSU is among several universities and colleges that are assisting students following Saudi Arabia’s decision to pull those on Saudi-funded scholarships from Canadian schools.

“We will do everything we can to assist any student desiring to continue their education at TSU. The immigration process can be frustrating, so we are here to advise the students on immigration policies and expedite issuing the appropriate documents needed for their transfer here immediately.” said Dr. Jewell Winn, senior International Affairs officer and deputy chief diversity officer at Tennessee State

There were 8,310 Saudi students enrolled in Canadian post-secondary schools from January to May 2018, according to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s website.

TSU officials will rely on their current Saudi student population to assist them in making the transition easier once students enroll. Records show more than 70 percent of the nearly 570 foreign students at TSU are from Saudi Arabia.

For more information or to apply, visit www.tnstate.edu/admissions.

 

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.

President Glenda Glover welcomes freshmen, urges them to stay focused and graduate

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University President Glenda Glover welcomed new freshmen on Thursday and urged them not to lose focus of their ultimate goal while at TSU – graduation.

“You’re going to enjoy yourself while you’re here, but don’t forget you’re in college,” Glover told the students gathered at the Howard C. Gentry Complex on the main campus. “You’re here to get an education. You are all called to greatness, so be the leaders that God has called you to be.”

Other administrators and student leaders also addressed the freshmen, who will be getting acclimated to the university over the next few days.

Student Government Association President Kayla McCrary told the students they may encounter some obstacles, but to be resilient.

“You may fail a class, or go through periods of distress,” she said. “But don’t give up. Nothing worthwhile is easy to get.”

Freshman Roderick Robinson of Atlanta said he was fired up after hearing from Glover and others.

“I can tell that everybody is ecstatic and ready to learn,” said Robinson, who is majoring in computer science. “I plan on studying hard, finding people in my major and working together to a common goal, and that’s to graduate.”

Dean of Students Frank Stevenson said he hopes other freshmen share Robinson’s enthusiasm, and heed Dr. Glover’s message, particularly in the case of completing their degree.

“The goal is to walk across the stage,” Stevenson said. “I put that in their mind from the day they get here.”

Simone Jones, a double major in mass communications and psychology from Columbia, South Carolina, said she’s excited to be at TSU, and plans to enjoy her experience, one day at a time.

“I’m looking forward to a good year,” Jones said.

For first-year student information, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/firstyear/

 

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.

From Across the Nation, New Students Descend on TSU Campus for freshman move-in day

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Release) – As early as age 6, Jeia Moore was fascinated with Tennessee State University and believed she’d one day be a Big Blue Tiger. Today, she’s part of the TSU family.

Moore was among the first group of more than 1,300 first-time freshmen who received keys to their dorm rooms in Wilson Hall during freshman move-in day at TSU on Tuesday. Jeia’s parents, James and Camilla Moore, made the trip from Memphis to help her get settled.

President Glenda Glover, left, joins volunteers to unload students’ luggage during freshman move-in day at TSU. (Photo By Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

“TSU was my first choice for college,” said Jeia, who has no previous ties to TSU, except a recent college tour. She will major in marketing. “No one persuaded me to come to this university except my conscience. I love the culture and tradition that I believe will help me to grow and develop into the woman I want to be.”

This year, freshman move-in day took place over the course of two days. Officials say the change was intended to shorten wait time and make processing easier for students, parents and volunteers. The first move-in on Tuesday was limited to all-female Wilson Hall, the largest residence hall on campus. The rest of the move ins took place on Wednesday. During both days’ activities, more than 200 volunteers, including student organizations, alumni, staff and friends helped to move luggage, boxes of personal belongings and other items, while others pointed out directions and manned water and refreshment stations for the new residents.

TSU President Dr. Glenda Glover, who personally unloaded some of the students’ luggage, greeted and welcomed the new Tigers.

Parents James Moore, left, and Camilla Moore, right, spend a moment with their daighter, Jeia, after dropping her off during freshman move-in day at TSU. Jeia will major in marketing. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

“This is really going well and I am very impressed,” the President said about the move. “I appreciate the commitment and dedication of our staff, students and volunteers. Everybody is busy and making sure our new students settle in well. That’s really impressive.”

Savannah Williams, who drove in with her parents from Chicago, was also impressed with the atmosphere, but found the sudden realization of leaving home for the first time a little overwhelming.

“Leaving home for the first time is like really hitting me now,” said Williams, who will major in occupational therapy. “I guess it is time to mature. You got to learn to live on your own. It feels good to finally move in because I have been waiting. I am excited.”

Ronald Fenderson, left, who arrived Wednesday, expects to be a walk-on for the TSU Tigers’ Football Team. He was accompanied by his sister, Jakayla Fenderson; mother, Janelle Wilson; and father, Willie Wilson. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

Just like Williams, the feeling of sadness and excitement was the same among parents who came to drop their children off. Jeia’s parents said their hearts were heavy, but are excited that TSU is the right school to give her the academic and social nurturing she needs.

“She is leaving home and it is so sad that she is leaving, but I know that my daughter has what it takes to pursue her dreams and to live out those things which she has cherished for a long time,” said Camilla Moore.

“I am sad but I am very excited that my daughter got this opportunity. TSU is a great institution that will give her an opportunity to nurture and grow here not only academically, but also socially,” added James Moore.

Ronald Fenderson, a dental hygiene major from Plymouth, Michigan, was among those who checked in on Wednesday. He will live in Watson Hall. Accompanying him were his older sister Jakayla Fenderson, and their parents, Willie and Janelle Wilson. A standout, all-around player on the football team at Canton High School, Ronald Fenderson expects to be a walk-on for the TSU Tigers.

“I have been in contact with the coaches, and I have been training all year for this and I am ready to go,” said Ronald, who learned about TSU during an HBCU tour. “TSU was the last place we came to and it just stuck with me.”

Members of the TSU Tigers’ Football Team help to move in new students in Wilson Hall. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

The Wednesday arrival was just timely for Ronald. Among volunteers helping with move-in were representatives of the TSU athletic program, including members of the football, basketball, volleyball and track teams.

Head football Coach Rod Reed said as students who have been here,  athletes can also help to make the transition process easier for new students.

“It is always good for our kids to get out and help out in the community,” Reed said. “This is a community effort for our athletes to be able to meet new people and help them  break the ice, and maybe develop lasting friendships.”

Incoming freshman Kiana Jones, center, of Huntsville, Alabama, with her mother Tiffany, and her friend, Shawn Burrell. (Photo by Lucas Johnson, TSu Media Relations

Many community partners, including churches, banking institutions, food vendors, the Army, and WTST, The Blaze, TSU’s student-run radio station,  set up tents and tables with free refreshments, food, giveaways and entertainment for the new students, volunteers and visitors. Among them were 15th Avenue Baptist Church, New Season Church, and Restoration Corner Ministry, which set up water stations and feeding tables in several residence halls.

“We came out to be part of the hospitality,” New Season Pastor Dwayne Lewis said Wednesday. “We were at Wilson Hall yesterday, and today we’re at Watson.”

Like the first day, officials said Wednesday’s move-in was just as smooth.

“The staff of Housing and Residence Life came up with this pilot for a two-day move-in and it has worked perfectly,” said Dr. Tracey Ford, vice president for Student Activities. “Mr. Brent Dukhie, the interim director, is a real strategist. He has been around housing for a long time. He understands and develops processes so things move along more smoothly. He was able to take a look at this process and be able to streamline it in such a way that we haven’t seen before.”

Incoming freshman Kiana Jones moved in Wednesday and said she’s looking forward to her college experience at TSU because her high school in Huntsville, Alabama, was predominantly white.

“I came to TSU because I like to experience different cultures from all over the country,” Jones said. “I really wanted to see what an HBCU would feel like. I’m excited to be here.”

 

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 Faculty and Staff Fired Up and Ready to Embrace New Academic Year, Challenged to Strive for Greatness

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University President Glenda Glover welcomed faculty and staff back to the university on Monday, and challenged them to strive for “greatness.”

“This is an exciting time because the history of TSU is still being written,” Glover said at the Faculty-Staff Institute. “We’ve been called to greatness. We are building our TSU legacy.”

She said the university has some challenges, but that they can be overcome by working together.

“It takes all of us to make TSU work,” Glover said. “We are team TSU.”

Part of the president’s discussion was about enrollment, which she said has been affected by the state’s program that offers high school graduates free tuition at a two-year institution in Tennessee, and higher admission standards TSU implemented in 2016 to attract better and brighter students.

She noted the higher standards are paying off because the university is attracting more quality students, including two highly sought after high school seniors from Memphis.

Jayla Woods, a graduate of Whitehaven High School, received nearly $9 million in scholarship offers. A fellow student, Meaghen Jones, got more than $10 million in offers. Both will be at TSU when classes start this month.

“We’ve moved to quality over quantity,” Glover said.

She also pointed out the university is continuing to excel in research, as well as campus growth. In the next few months, ground is expected to be broken on a new Health Sciences Building and two new residence halls.

As for research funding, TSU ended the past year with $52 million, which was $8 million more than the previous year and placed Tennessee State No. 2 among historically black colleges and universities in new research funding.

Dr. Lesia Crumpton-Young, TSU’s vice president of research and institutional advancement, said she’s excited about the future of TSU.

“I’m looking forward to this year,” she said. “The plan is to keep the momentum, and actually accelerate this year with larger initiatives, that once again still provide greater impact to the research we’re doing.”

Tequila Johnson, chair of the Staff Senate, said she was pleased to hear the positive outcomes and outlooks shared by President Glover, as well as others who presented during the retreat.

“I think it was a great opportunity to be able to fellowship with staff and faculty members,” Johnson said. “It was also a good opportunity to be able to hear some of the ideas that staff have in relationship to customer service and how we can work together to improve satisfaction.”

Assistant College of Business professor Isaac Addae said the Faculty-Staff Institute was “very effective in setting the tone for the upcoming semester.”

“Dr. Glover’s holistic approach to student-centered customer service, and reiterating to faculty that it takes all of us, is a step in the right direction,” he said. “As an alumnus and business faculty member, I was proud to see the upward trend of enrollment in our academic unit. I am inspired to do my part to embrace the Team TSU mindset and provide excellence in teaching, research and service to the institution.”

Dr. De’Etra Young, assistant professor of Urban Forestry in the College of Agriculture, said the information shared during the retreat provided inspiration for the year ahead.

“I thought it was great.  I thought it set the tone to build teamwork and collaboration and putting students first,” she said.  “I really liked the president’s message of ‘Team TSU,’ and using that throughout the year to build the TSU family and putting that at the forefront.”

Kiana Hughes, who earned a master’s degree from TSU in 2017 and now works as Title III program coordinator and completion coach, echoed similar sentiments.

“Being a recent graduate I really enjoyed seeing the actual numbers and the growth of the university. Also, being a recent graduate of a graduate program I am really excited to see the way the graduate school is progressing,” Hughes said.

Hughes, who received her undergraduate degree from TSU in Exercise Science HPSS (Human Performance Science), said she looks forward to a great year at the university.

“One thing I want to see and I am really excited about is faculty and staff coming together to make TSU a better environment over all. I am really excited about that, “Hughes said.

Following the annual faculty and staff institute employees gathered for lunch on the campus lawn where they continued to fellowship and share excitement about the new academic 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 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 alums provide feast for football players through family food business

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – The owners of a family food business returned to their alma mater to provide a feast for the Tennessee State University football team after their practice on Aug. 9.

(l-r) Cardale Winfrey, Burnice Winfrey, TSU Coach Rod Reed, and Victor Winfrey.

Burnice, Victor and Cardale Winfrey, all TSU graduates, play a part in the operation of Winfrey Foods, along with their sister, Karla, and another brother, Carlton. The family members served the players and coaches in a buffet-style line in the indoor practice facility.

“It was great to be back on campus and give back to the university and athletic department that has given me so much,” said Victor Winfrey, who played football at TSU from ’85-’89.

Before the dinner, Victor was presented a helmet similar to the one he wore when he played.

Victor Winfrey

“I remember when I played how excited and grateful I was for any food or snacks we had after an evening or night practice when the cafeteria was closed. So, it really made me feel good to be able to provide a good meal to the young men, who were so well-mannered and very appreciative.”

Although she graduated from Middle Tennessee State University, Karla Winfrey took some history classes at TSU. She also enjoyed visiting TSU again, and meeting the players, who she described as “amazing gentlemen.”

“Over and over they expressed their gratitude and said they thoroughly enjoyed the special meal we prepared,” she said. “Coach (Rod) Reed is doing an outstanding job training America’s future leaders.”

Coach Reed and his staff were also grateful.

“Thank you Winfrey Foods for providing dinner for the TSU Big Blue Tigers,” Reed said. “Your food was outstanding, and service and fellowship was even better.”

Members of New Season Church provide water and free pizza.

Winfrey Foods was started about two years ago. Its signature item is Royal Relish Chow Chow, which contains mother Judy Winfrey’s secret ingredients, and is available in all Publix supermarkets throughout Tennessee. The relish is also popular among chefs who prepare food in the Tennessee Titans’ luxury suites.

A week after Winfrey Foods’ benevolence, a number of community partners set up tents and tables with free refreshments, food, giveaways and entertainment for new TSU students moving into their residence halls, as well as volunteers and visitors.

Among the groups were 15th Avenue Baptist Church, New Season Church, and Restoration Corner Ministry, which set up water stations and feeding tables in several residence halls.

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.

 

 

TSU Business Student Receives Three-Year $75,000 Scholarship from Toyota and Jesse Jackson PUSH Program

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Dominique Davis always thought that making good grades would be her pass to free college education. She was right! Davis will not have to worry about fees for the rest of her college career.

On July 18, Davis, a TSU sophomore business administration major, received a $75,000 scholarship offer from Toyota through the Jesse Jackson  Rainbow PUSH Excel program.

Dominique Davis

“I am pleased to inform you that you have been selected as a new Jesse Jackson Fellows Scholar and are being awarded a $25,000 scholarship for the 2018-2019 academic year,” a letter from PUSH said. The scholarship is renewable each year for a maximum of three years.

“I am so excited; this is unbelievable,” said Davis, who is from Danville, Illinois. “I have been praying for this and it finally came through.”

Davis is one of only 10 students from a group of 20 semi-finalists to be selected for the scholarship made possible through a partnership between Toyota and Rainbow PUSH Excel. Applicants must be engineering or business majors, have a minimum 3.0 cumulative grade point average, with demonstrated participation in community service, and must show need for financial assistance.

As part of the scholarship, Toyota offers successful applicants the opportunity to work at one of their facilities across North America to gain valuable real-world experience, as well as be paired with mentors from Toyota management to help guide the students through the next three years of college. Davis is currently an intern with Nissan in Nashville.

Davis, who has a 3.8 GPA with a concentration in supply chain management, said a family member told her about the scholarship program.

“I immediately said this is a great opportunity,” Davis said. “So I filled out the application and sent it in. I got a call back to go the next step, which included an interview with Toyota. I passed the application phase with the Jesse Jackson committee. I got another call back. And I got the scholarship.”

The third of four children, Davis said from elementary school she always made all A’s.

“Coming out of high school my GPA was great. I told my parents we are not going to pay for college,” Davis said, but her plan did not quite materialize the first year. Although she could have received a full ride to any college in Illinois, Davis said she chose TSU, out of state. As a result, funds she received were not enough to cover her full out-of-state fees.

“We had to take out a loan in my freshman year, and that was hard because my sister had just graduated from the University of Illinois-Champaign, and my parents were stretched,” she said.

Davis said she chose TSU because of the HBCU experience. All through elementary to high school, she had attended predominantly white schools.

“I wanted to attend an HBCU,” said Davis, who credits her parents and her late grandfather for the motivation to do well. “I wanted to get a feel of the culture and Tennessee State felt like home. It felt like the right move to come here. It has been a great experience.”

Davis’ goal is to own a charter school.

“I want to start my own charter school to help kids and make sure they have opportunities that so many other kids may not have,” she 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, 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.