Category Archives: Athletics

Southern Heritage Classic More than Football, Builds Careers and Promotes Relationships

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University’s victory in the 28th Southern Heritage Classic on Sept. 9 wasn’t the only thing sophomore Micah Williams had to celebrate.

The Army ROTC awarded the TSU communications major a $42,500 scholarship during a sideline ceremony at the end of the first quarter of the game.

President Glenda Glover, joined by Rapper and actor T.I., and Associate Vice President for Administration, Dr. Curtis Johnson, right, receives a check for $10,000 from Coors officials at the 28th Southern Heritage Classic in Memphis. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

“I love the classic, but receiving this scholarship from the Army is just so exciting,” said Williams, an Army cadet who’s planning a career in the U.S. military. “I am honored to be able to serve my country and to be debt free when I leave college.”

Just like Williams, the classic also brought great excitement to TSU fans and supporters to cap a week of activities.

Army Master Sgt. Gabriel Cleveland, left, presents a check for $42,500 to Army Cadet and TSU communications major Micah Williams at the 28th Southern Heritage Classic in Memphis. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

Before a crowd of more than 47,000 at the Liberty Bowl in Memphis, TSU defeated Jackson State University 17-15 to extend its current winning streak to 6-0 over the JSU Tigers. The win improves TSU to 17-11 in the Southern Heritage Classic.

“This is just another sweet victory for our Tennessee State University Tigers and fans,” said TSU President Glenda Glover.

For TSU, the weeklong celebration was more than about football. It was also a time for administrators, staff, student and alumni to engage in academic and relationship building activities that impact student learning, recruitment and support.

For instance, the annual Memphis Recruitment Reception hosted by the Office of Admissions, took place Wednesday evening at the Sheraton Memphis Downtown hotel. More than 50 high school students and their parents attended the reception to receive information on offerings and programs at TSU.

By the end of the evening, 25 students with exceptional GPAs and ACT scores were awarded full scholarships to attend TSU. One of those students was Talia Chambers of Middle College High School.

“I came here tonight just to get some information and now here I have a full-ride scholarship, this is great,” said Chambers, who has a 4.0 GPA, and plans to major in animal science. “I am very excited to attend Tennessee State.”

A daylong college-recruitment fair in the Pipkin Building on Friday followed the reception. Hundreds of students received information on offerings and programs at TSU and other participating institutions.

Alumni engagement, usually a major feature of the Southern Heritage Classic week, saw a packed room of former students and supporters attend the Memphis Alumni Mixer in the Case Management Building.

At the gathering, Glover called for a moment of silence in honor of those affected by hurricanes Harvey and Irma. She also gave an update on developments at TSU, including a new governing board, and the university’s new strategic plan and its emphasis on new admission standards.

“We are focusing on recruiting students who are academically talented,” Glover said. “We have raised our admissions standards. We want to bring in students with the support and ability to graduate. We are no longer the school of last resort. Those days are over.”

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 bachelor’s degree programs, 25 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU Alum Tops Kickboxing Sport, Brings Fight to Alma Mater

By Michael McLendon

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – TSU Alum Omari Boyd will showcase his world-class kickboxing skills on Saturday, September 30, in Kean Hall at Tennessee State University, as he along with other members of the American K-1 National Team take on the Canadian K-1 National Team.

Boyd, who became the first American kickboxer in history to receive a medal at the World Games in Poland in 2017, says he got his start as a competitive kickboxer at TSU.

“I met Kevin Walker, and he was doing a beginners mixed martial arts class at the school in the wellness center,” Boyd said. “While taking the class he saw that I had potential. We knew some of the same people, and he offered me my first fight in 2009.”

Since that time, Boyd has progressed to a 70-4 record as a kickboxer, obtaining at least one title belt in every major organization in the United States.

“What’s unique about Omari is his discipline, and he has an indomitable will,” said Walker, who trains athletes to compete for Team USA. “When you combine that with his humility, that’s really hard to find anywhere else.”

Walker, who started his mixed martial arts fitness program at the Ralph H. Boston Wellness Center in 2009, took two other TSU students to the world championships in MMA in 2016. He said Boyd’s experience as a competitive athlete in karate and swimming, and his love for learning, made transitioning to competitive kickboxing a natural fit.

“He did very good his first time out, and from that point I just asked him what he wanted from it.   He just looked me in my eyes and said, ‘I want to be the best in the world?’ Once he said that, I said, ‘Okay. Let’s do it. Let’s do those things to make sure you are the best in the world.’”

Victorious in eight different countries, Boyd has managed to perform at an elite level as a kickboxing champion while maintaining a full-time job as a civil structural engineer with the Thomas and Betts Corporation in Memphis, Tennessee. He credits hard work and dedication as being keys to his success.

“Once I set my mind to something, I just want to be the best at it—hands down,” Boyd said. “Wherever it takes me, it takes me. Wherever being the best leads, I’m going.”

Boyd, who secured a B.S. in architectural engineering from TSU in 2008 and an M.S. in civil engineering from TSU in 2011, credits his family with motivating and inspiring him.

“My dad and my mom, they both put me in karate at a young age. They motivated me to excel in that, and the same thing with swimming,” he said. “I just have younger brothers and sisters. They kind of look up to me so I just tread lightly on things I do because I know there are a lot of eyes on me.”

His mother, Agnes Boyd, who currently serves as Instructor of Sports and Fitness in the TSU Department of Human Performance and Health Sciences, said she always taught her son to be positive.

“I always told my children you can be and do anything you say you want to do. Never say, ‘Shoulda’ woulda’ coulda.’ You just do it. If you fail, that doesn’t mean you failed. You tried it,” she said. “He told me, ‘Mama, I want an Olympic uniform.‘ That’s what my son said before he got on the team.”

Walker said the fight on September 30 extends and expands the historic legacy for international and Olympic sports at Tennessee State University. He hopes it will be a launching pad to open and extend the course offerings and recreational intramural offerings at TSU to get more diverse students and generate funds for the university, as well as increase TSU’s international exposure.

“This particular event marks an opportunity for Tennessee State to be an epicenter and an origin that will bring national and international attention to not only the university, but the city of Nashville as we grow in our exposure and our appeal on a global scale.,” he said.

For Boyd, the fight simply represents an opportunity to do what he loves before a hometown crowd.

“Man, ya’ll come through TSU September 30th and represent,” he said with enthusiasm. “It’s been a long time since I fought at home. “

To learn more about the event, visit wakousa.org.

 

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 9,000 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.

 

 

 

Tigers Spoil Stadium Opening with Historic Victory Over Georgia State

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Dajour Nesbeth intercepted a pass with a minute remaining in the game to give Tennessee State a historic 17-10 victory over Georgia State in Atlanta on Thursday.

The victory made a bit of history in that it gave the Tigers the first collegiate football win in Georgia State Stadium (formerly Turner Field).

“It was a huge win,” said TSU head football coach Rod Reed. “I’m so proud of these guys. We’ve been working all camp for this one moment. Now we’ve got to stay in the moment, and just take them one game at a time, and just move on from here.”

It was also the first win as an FCS team over an FBS opponent. TSU defeated Louisville in 1981 and in 1984 as an NCAA DI-A Independent squad. The Tigers transitioned from an NCAA DI-A team to an NCAA DI-AA team in the early 80’s.

“We’re an FCS team, and we came out there and beat an FBS team,” said junior offensive tackle Christian Morris. “They were very talented, but we handled business.”

The defense stood tall the entire game, holding GSU to 81 yards in the first half. The Tigers kept the pressure on forcing four turnovers, recording three sacks and stopping GSU on two fourth down attempts.

Go Big Blue!

 

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 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.

Tennessee State University Largest Producer of Teachers in the Nation, New Ranking Shows

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Barris Johnson is not surprised that Tennessee State University is No. 1 among historically black colleges and universities in producing teachers.

“With the kind of rigorous curriculum students go through, TSU deserves to be at the top,” said Johnson, reacting to a new national ranking that lists the university as the highest producer of teachers among the nation’s Top 10 HBCUs.

Johnson holds a bachelor’s degree in music education, and a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from TSU. He teaches general music and band to 5th – 8th graders at East Nashville Magnet Middle School.

“In just my first year of teaching, I have done so well,” Johnson said. “The number one ranking … shows how hard the faculty and staff work.”

The ranking, by HBCU Lifestyle, a publication that focuses on black college living, noted that TSU’s undergraduate and graduate offerings and concentrations in biology, chemistry and elementary education made the school’s teacher preparation program more attractive. This is the second time in three years the publication has listed TSU as the top producer of teachers.

“Obviously we are very excited about this ranking,” said Dr. Mark Hardy, vice president for academic affairs. “This only shows that Tennessee State University is a leader in this area as is reflected in the quality of students we are graduating.”

Emmanuel Scott, of Atlanta, and a senior music education major, agrees. He said the program has been “everything” he was told when he first arrived at TSU.

“They told me that the program was good and I have not been disappointed,” Scott said. “So when I heard that we were No. 1, I already knew it.”

With a demographic shift that shows that more than 35 percent of students nationwide are black or Hispanic but less than 15 percent of teachers are black or Hispanic, experts say increasing the number of black teachers is critical. And TSU is helping to close that gap.

For the past two years, the university has been one of the top teacher preparation programs in the state, providing “exceptionally qualified” candidates for teaching positions, not only across the state and the southern region, but also the Metro Nashville Public Schools.

For instance, two years ago, as Metro wrapped up the year with the need to hire or name principals to new assignments for 2014-15, TSU-trained teachers and administrators answered the call. With the exception of three, all of the 10 principals hired or assigned received all or part of their training from TSU. At about the same time, 54 of the 636 new Metro teachers hired were TSU graduates, the second highest of all state or area universities. Only MTSU had more with 56. TSU had the number one spot the previous period.

Dr. Heraldo Richards, associate dean of the College of Education at TSU and director of teacher education, said the top ranking will draw even more attention to the great programs at TSU.

“As part of our intensive training program, we provide our students with not just a one-semester teaching experience as others do, but a year-long residency which enhances their competency when they come out,” Richards said. “As a result, many of the  ‘P-12 systems’ in the area and others from around the country, have been actively recruiting our candidates.”

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.

Dr. Warrick L. Carter, TSU Graduate and Former President of Columbia College Chicago, dies at 75

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Dr. Warrick L. Carter, a Tennessee State University graduate and former president of Columbia College Chicago, has died at age 75.

He died July 15 at his residence in Sanford, Florida, after a brief illness, according to a release from his family.

Carter was born on May 6, 1942 in Charlottesville, Virginia. In 1964, he received a bachelor of science degree in music education from Tennessee State University. He pursued advanced studies in percussion at the Blair Academy of Music in Nashville. Carter later went on to earn a master’s degree in music and a Ph.D. in music education from Michigan State University.

A music educator, composer and performer, Carter’s career spans six decades, including 13 years as president of Columbia College, an independent, non-profit liberal arts college specializing in arts and media disciplines. Prior to that, he served as assistant professor and director of bands at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore; professor of music and chairman of fine arts at Governors State University; and dean of faculty and provost/vice president of academic affairs at Berklee School of Music.

An avid musician, Carter’s projects included works with the Wisconsin Music Educators, the Michigan Council for the Arts, the Philadelphia Public Schools, the Los Angeles Board of Education, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Minister of Culture, Paris, France. Carter also worked at Walt Disney Entertainment in Orlando, Florida, for four years as a director of entertainment arts.

Carter was married to Laurel Carter. The couple had one daughter.

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 head basketball coach Dana Ford holds third successful summer camp

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – TSU head basketball coach Dana Ford recently held his third summer camp to give youngsters a chance to learn the fundamentals of the game, and just have some fun.

Camp participant Genna Hickerson prepares to make a move. (Photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

About 60 youth ages 7-13 attended the camp held last week in Tennessee State University’s Gentry Complex.

They participated in a number of different drills and games designed to develop their basketball skills and overall understanding of the game.

“Our staff really enjoys being able to serve this community with free camps,” Ford said. “Physical activity is good for the kids, and the most important thing is that we teach them to have fun playing basketball. Hopefully we picked up some lifelong TSU fans along the way.”

Ford’s camp is among close to 40 camps this summer at Tennessee State.

Other camps include the Verizon Innovative Learning Camp (6/5-6/16); CAMA Blues Kids Camp (7/3 – 7/7), Summer Math Academy (7/9 – 7/21), Edward L. Graves Summer Band Camp (6/24 – 7/1), STEM Summer Camp (6/19 – 7/21), and Upward Bound Program (6/4 – 7/7).

For a complete list of summer camps and programs, and contacts, go to http://www.tnstate.edu/events/camps.aspx

 

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 Summer Camps Give Youngsters Fun, Educational and Real-world Experience

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Summer is here! And it’s that time of the year when Tennessee State University hosts camps to allow youngsters to have some fun, as well as educate them and provide some real-world experience.

New this year is the Verizon Innovative Learning Summer Camp, which runs from June 5 – 16. It is part of a partnership between the Verizon Foundation, the Department of Computer Science in TSU’s College of Engineering, and local middle schools. The goal is to engage minority males in grades 6 – 8 to interact with technology.

Middle school students attending the Verizon Innovative Learning Summer Camp receive instructions from program facilitators in a computer science lab at TSU. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

Dr. Tamara Rogers, TSU associate professor of computer science and a coordinator of the Verizon camp, said participants will learn tools such as the MIT App Inventor, an innovative beginner’s introduction to programming and app creation.

“Students will design and build prototype of mobile apps, as well as do hands-on labs,” Rogers said. “Students in this program will also continue throughout the academic year. Once a month they will come to the TSU campus and continue building on their mobile app.”

For those into music and the arts, about 80 youngsters ages 4-17 will get a chance to participate in the Community Academy of Music and Arts, which kicks off on the main campus Monday, June 5. The one-week community-based initiative includes summer camps for music, piano, drama, and visual and literary arts. It is designed to expose participants to different artistic mediums, crafts and songs.

“Our program is learner and service centered to create awareness of TSU in the community,” said CAMA director Dylan Griffith. “My wish is that these camps provide diverse and quality instruction that promotes creativity and inquiry.”

Music instructor Kerry Frazier, Jr., acquaints participants with program activities during the first day of CAMA All-Star Music Camp at TSU. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

CAMA and the Verizon Innovation Learning Summer Camp are just two of several fun, entertaining and educational programs and camps at TSU this summer. Overall, nearly 1,500 students from elementary to college freshmen are expected on the university’s two campuses. Some are coming from as far away as Iowa, Maryland and Oklahoma.

In addition to early learning activities for kids 5 years and up — such as Little Tigers Football Camp, and Basketball Kids Camp — summer camp themes and subjects range from science, applied mathematics and engineering, to music, athletics, real-world scientific work, and cutting-edge research.

A returning favorite this year is the Summer Apprenticeship Program, or SAP, offered by the College of Agriculture. It is a science-based initiative for college freshmen and rising high school seniors that exposes them to cutting-edge research. It runs from June 12 – July 14. Thirty students from 10 states will participate in the program this year.

William F. Hayslett, Sr., is the coordinator of SAP. He said the program, intended as a recruitment tool, is meeting its goal of encouraging participants to return to TSU for their college careers. He reported a more than 60 percent success rate of the program now in its third year.

“Our goal here is to make students aware of the academic programs in the College of Agriculture, Human and Natural Sciences and the many career opportunities available to its graduates,” Hayslett said.

Other summer camps are CAMA Blues Kids Camp (7/3 – 7/7), Summer Math Academy (7/9 – 7/21), Edward L. Graves Summer Band Camp (6/24 – 7/1), STEM Summer Camp (6/19 – 7/21), and Upward Bound Program (6/4 – 7/7), among others.

For a complete list of summer camps and programs, and contacts, go to http://www.tnstate.edu/events/camps.aspx

 

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.

 

Grandmother of four to get TSU degree after 55 years

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

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

“I am really looking forward to this,” said Mullins, who is graduating with honors. “I am very excited and just overjoyed to see this day.”

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

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 fellow student John Mullins, a senior from East St. Louis, Illinois, who she described as dashing, handsome and “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.

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Darlene Tucker “Miss New Jersey” (’63 TSU Yearbook Photo)

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.

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John E. Mullins “Mr. Esquire” (’63 TSU Yearbook Photo)

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 agency 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.”

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 return to TSU and pursue a degree in interdisciplinary studies. At times, she took as many as 20 credit hours a semester, and maintained 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.

‘Donor Appreciation’ Gives Scholarship Recipients Chance to Say ‘Thank You’

By Emmanuel S. Freeman

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Leona Dunn is finally enjoying college life and stressing less about school fees. She is grateful.

“My first year in college I paid over $1,200 out of pocket from what I saved up over the summer to help me stay in college,” said Dunn, a junior communications major.

Donors Reception-2
TSU President Glenda Glover says scholarship donors help the university stay on the path of excellence. (Photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

That experience was the beginning of some tough times for the Omaha, Nebraska, native who had just come out of foster care. She was barely able to keep up with the payment plan she had worked up, which made registering for the next semester even more difficult.

“My balance was still off,” Dunn said. “I had no one back home to help. And coming from foster care, the system doesn’t exactly just give children owned by the state full ride scholarships to anywhere even if they had an exceptional GPA and ACT score like I did.”

But thanks to some “nice people” and “great organizations,” Dunn is now worrying less about tuition and focusing more on her academics. She received financial assistance from the Links, and the Tennessee State University Women’s Center.

Donors Reception-4
Leona Dunn gave a Spoken Word rendition at the Scholarship Appreciation Program and Reception. (Photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

“With all of this help I had to come up with only $200 this year …a huge blessing. I am so grateful,” she said.

On Friday, April 7, Dunn, and fellow students who receive help through scholarship donations, had a chance to say, “Thank You.”

It was the 6th Annual Scholarship Appreciation Program and Reception, or “Donor Appreciation,” held in Kean Hall. The event, organized by the TSU Foundation, allows scholarship recipients to meet face-to-face with donors to thank them for their generosity.

TSU President Glenda Glover said scholarship donors help the university to stay on the path of excellence by ensuring that students receive quality education through their gifts.

“Because of you, our students are able to matriculate,” Glover said. “They get to come, they get to stay and they get to graduate because of your dollars. We are just so grateful.”

Donors Reception
Scholarship recipients enter Kean Hall with cheers and songs of appreciation for donors who have helped them stay in school. (Photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

This year, nearly 280 people, including students, donors and special guests attended the program featuring songs, recognition of donors and a special toast. Dr. Lesia Crumpton-Young, vice president for Research and Institutional Advancement, provided remarks.

Eloise Abernathy Alexis, associate vice president of Institutional Advancement, said the program gave the students a “unique opportunity” to interact with the donors.

“We send out postcards, letters and notes to donors to show our appreciation for their gifts, but this is the moment when donors and students really get to come together face to face to give and receive appreciation,” Alexis said.

Dr. Darlene Harris-Vasser, assistant director of Donor Relations, coordinates the reception each year. She said it is exciting to see the joy on donors’ faces when they meet the students in person.

“They are just so elated to see all of those students speaking about their educational goals, future plans and how their (donors’) contributions are making it possible for them to achieve their goals,” Harris-Vasser said.

The Women’s Center, one of the donors that offered Dunn financial assistance, develops and sponsors programming that enhances the skills of women and assists in their development as scholars and professionals.

According to Seanne Wilson, director of the center, Dunn approached the center to inquire about assistance.

“As Leona is a huge supporter of the Women’s Center and its events, the center was happy to assist her with the request,” Wilson said.

In appreciation, Dunn wants to give back to help others.

“Hopefully I want to have my own endowed scholarship when I become an alumna to help others and give back for the help I received,” she said.

For information on how to support the TSU Foundation or make a scholarship donation, please go to http://www.tnstate.edu/foundation/.

Department of Media Relations

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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.