Category Archives: EVENTS

Newspaper Teen Headed to TSU Says ‘Education’ is Key to His Success

Courtesy: WMCActionNews5.com

 

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A passerby snaps a photo of Kevuntez King on the corner where the Memphis teen has sold newspapers for four years, rain or shine. (Courtesy photo)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Working as a paperboy on a roadside corner is only a small part of Kevuntez King’s story. The graduating senior made a commitment to education, and he’s following through by going to Tennessee State University.

“Education – that’s the key to my success, that’s my way out,” King said.

Every Sunday for four years, rain or shine, King stood on the corner of Poplar Avenue and Estate Drive in Memphis selling newspapers.

“I came back the next week, I made $150,” King said. “I just kept doing it, kept doing it.”

What he continued to do was not only sell newspapers, but make an impression on the people who live close-by.

On May 22, Molly Laster snapped a photo of King, a recent graduate from Craigmont High School, in his graduation cap. That picture sparked a frenzy of positive words and posts from Sea Isle neighbors.

“He always had a smile, always had something nice and positive to say,” Laster said.

Along with his upbeat attitude, King also maintained a desire for success.

He graduated with a 4.0 grade point average, and was a three-sport athlete: playing golf, baseball and bowling. He was voted Mr. Craigmont and he won Prom King.

He said his motivation is his mother and aunt.

“Even when I’m at the point where I’m like it’s getting hard, she just pushed me, ‘Son you got it,’” King recalled.

As for the next phase of his life, King is headed to TSU to study Physical Therapy.

He said it wasn’t easy, staying out of trouble and focusing on his books, but he has a message for youngsters who feel like they are fighting against unbearable odds.

“Just chase your dreams,” King said.

TSU Men’s Basketball Coach Ford To Serve on Panel to End Violence Against Women

Courtesy: TSU Sports Information 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee State University men’s basketball Head Coach Dana Ford will serve as a panelist for The MEND Experience, an event geared toward engaging men to end violence against women.

Ford, who recently completed his second season as head coach of the Tigers, is one of the high-profile panelists who will share their knowledge and experience about changing a culture that supports violence against women.

The event will be held on Thursday, May 26, at Bridgestone Arena.

MEND is an initiative run through YWCA Nashville & Middle Tennessee dedicated to ending violence against women and girls through engaging and educating men and boys in the community. The program aims to educate and equip coaches and athletes to serve as positive role models in violence prevention in the greater Nashville area.

Hosted by MEND Director Shan Foster, who starred at Vanderbilt before going on to a professional basketball career, the discussion will include Ford and four other leaders from the Nashville community.

Other panelists include: Sean Henry – Nashville Predators President and CEO; Tony Majors –CEO Supports Services Department of Metro Nashville Public Schools; Derek Mason – Vanderbilt Head Football Coach; David Williams – Vanderbilt Athletics Director.

The free event is set for 9 a.m. – noon at Bridgestone Arena, home of the NHL’s Nashville Predators.

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, 22 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 Provide Real-World Educational Experience

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Dr. Reginald McDonald, TSU director of Band, instructs students during the Edward S. Graves Summer Band Camp in 2015. (Photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is the place to be for cool summer camps that provide youngsters and incoming college freshmen with real-world educational experience.

The university is offering a variety of camps and programs intended to help participants learn something new, while also spending quality time with top-tier faculty, staff and students.

Summer camp themes and subjects range from science, applied mathematics and engineering, to music, athletics, real-world scientific work, and cutting-edge research.

Youngsters from 5 years on up will participate in early learning, musical and sports camps such as the TSU Women’s Basketball Kids Camp, the Offense Defense Sports Football Camp, and the Community Academy of Music and Arts Piano Camp, among others.

Dance
Dance instructor Princecilla Ridley demonstrates a dance routine to students in the Musical Theater Camp at TSU in 2015. (Photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

Overall, more than 2,000 students are expected on the university’s main campus, and its Avon Williams Campus. They range from elementary to college freshmen, some of whom will come from as far away as California and Puerto Rico.

One of the more popular camps is the Academic Boot Camp, a key recruitment tool for the university. Now in its sixth year, the four-week residential program gives incoming freshmen an early introduction to college life. Participants earn college credit toward their major.

The camp offers an academic and college preparedness program, including introduction to college life, public speaking, workshops and technology. Physical and mental development exercises, such as self-discipline, respect for others, good study habits and how to succeed in life, are key components of the program.

“The object of this program is to ensure that students who have already been admitted for the fall semester actually get a jump start on enrollment,” said Dr. John Cade, TSU’s interim  vice president for Enrollment Management and Student Support Services.

He said the retention rate for students who enter the university through the Academic Boot Camp is very high.

“It is about 85 percent, which shows that the program has proven to do what it was designed to do. We have also found out that when those students actually return in the fall, they are better able to navigate the system, many of them become mentors for other students, and many get actively involved in extracurricular activities,” Cade said. The camp runs from June 4 – July 1, 2016.

Another camp favorite is the Summer Apprenticeship Program, or SAP, a science-based initiative for college freshmen and rising high school seniors that exposes them to cutting-edge research. The camp is hosted by the College of Agriculture, Human and Natural Sciences. It runs from June 13 – July 15, 2016.

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Students weigh a goat as part of their hands-on activity during the Summer Apprenticeship Program last year. (Photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

Last year, 21 students from Tennessee, Mississippi, Florida, Indiana and Georgia spent five weeks engaged in studies from understanding the hypersensitive response of tobacco plants, to comparing DNAs in chickens and Guinea fowls. Their finished works were presented as scientific papers and research results to a standing-room only audience of parents, faculty and guests on TSU’s main campus.

William F. Hayslett Sr., coordinator of the SAP, said the objective of the program is to dispel the “myth” that agriculture is farming.

“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,” he said.

See the following link for a list of all summer camps and programs and contacts.

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, 22 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 mourns loss of former Tigerbelle, U.S. Olympian Mamie Rallins

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service/TSU Sports Information) – Tennessee State University is mourning the loss of former Tigerbelle and U.S. Olympian Mamie Rallins.

The 74-year-old passed away on Monday, May 16, following a car accident in Ohio.

“It’s a sad day not just for Tennessee State, but for the Tigerbelles,” said TSU Track and Field Director Chandra Cheeseborough-Guice.

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TSU Director of Athletics, Teresa Lawrence-Phillips, left, presents Mamie Rallins with a plaque at the Breakfast of Champions luncheon marking the TSU Centennial Celebration in 2012. (photo by John Cross)

Rallins, who graduated from TSU in 1976, ran for legendary TSU track and field coach Ed Temple. She competed for the United States in the hurdles during the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City as well as the 1972 Olympics in Munich.

The Chicago native went on to serve as head coach of the track and field/cross country programs at Ohio State University, Hampton University and Chicago State University.

She was the first African-American woman to coach at Ohio State and also served as an assistant athletic director for three years.

Helping to start the women’s track and field program at Ohio State, she coached 60 Big Ten champions, 24 All-Americans and one Olympian during her 18-year career in Columbus.

On the national and international level, Rallins was the head coach of the U.S. Indoor World Championship team in 1987 and was an assistant coach for the U.S. Olympic Team in 1996. At the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, Rallins worked as the head manager for the USA women’s track and field team.

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, 22 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.

All Roads Lead to TSU with Discounted Tuition Rates for Out-of-State Students

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University has just made it more affordable for out-of-state students to attend the university. TSU is now offering discounted tuition rates of nearly 40 percent for students in counties within 250 miles of Nashville.

The new rates apply to students in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia.

TSU President Glenda Glover said one of the most rewarding phrases a college president likes to hear from a prospective student is “I’ve selected your university to continue my education,” and that the new discount will play a vital role in the recruitment and retention of students.

“TSU is very excited to launch this new initiative that will allow students to attend from bordering states who may have taken us off their list as the top choice because of out-of-state tuition costs,” said the TSU president. “This will also ease the financial burden of hundreds of students who are already enrolled at TSU.”

Dr. John Cade, interim vice president of TSU’s Enrollment Management and Student Support Services, said the offering is part of a new Tennessee Board of Regents policy, which allows TSU and other TBR institutions to offer discounted rates to students within a 250-mile radius of their campuses.

Cade said the plan will help boost the university’s effort to recruit out-of-state students, a breadbasket for TSU.

“Based on our national alumni base and legacy, out-of-state students have traditionally been attracted to Tennessee State University, but the cost of tuition has been a major barrier for many,” Cade said.

Called the 250-Mile Radius Rate, the new discount plan will be effective beginning the 2016-2017 academic year. It will benefit students like Atlanta native Jordan Gaither, a senior Exercise Sports major who dropped his athletics scholarship playing basketball to concentrate on his academics. Gaither does not have a Pell Grant and has to rely on his parents to help pay for his fees.

“It has been hard on them and me for the last two years,” Gaither said. “If I can get this discount, it will definitely help a lot.”

Under the new plan, eligible incoming out-of-state undergraduate students enrolled in 15 credit hours will receive a 43 percent reduction in tuition, or pay $5,903 per year.  Graduate students taking nine credit hours will pay 35 percent less, or $6,176.

Tuition is slightly higher for undergraduates taking more than 15 credit hours, and for graduate students taking more than nine credits hours.

In 2015/2016, full out-of-state tuition for undergraduate students enrolled in 15 credit hours was $10,387, and for graduate students enrolled in nine credit hours the tuition was $9,439.

The discount applies only to tuition and not to costs, such as housing, meals, books and other fees. But Joshua Brome of Stone Mountain, Georgia, sees the offer as a major break for students in need of assistance.

“The foreseeable benefit of this plan of lower tuition will release me from my dependence on student loans,” said Brome, a sophomore Civil and Environmental Engineering major. “I don’t have a Parent Plus loan and this goes a long way in ensuring I might not have to apply for one to cover the out-of-state cost. This is a huge weight off my shoulders and will free up my mind to concentrate more on me and my academics.”

Visit http://www.tnstate.edu/bursar/radius.aspx for a list of eligible high schools and additional information regarding fees.

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, 22 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.

Grant from United Negro College Fund to enhance TSU’s student career development initiatives

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is using a $150,000 grant from the United Negro College Fund to improve job placement outcome for graduates.

The university was one of 30 historically black colleges and universities that recently received the grant made possible through funding by the Lilly Endowment, Inc, which has committed $50 million for UNCF to launch the UNCF Career Pathways Initiative.

TSU will use the money to enhance its student career development initiatives.

“As the nation focuses on its capacity to address the current and projected needs for a more educated, better trained and diverse workforce, TSU is poised to confirm our position as a significant source of premier employee and entrepreneurial talent,” TSU President Glenda Glover said. “This funding will allow us to focus on a campus-wide career planning and development initiative that will ensure that even more of our students are exposed to various career and employment options.”

Kierston Moorer and Tyler Kinloch, both of whom graduated from TSU on May 7, said the university’s Career Development Center has done a good job preparing them for the workforce.

“I’ve been involved with this center since my freshman year,” said Moorer, a computer science major who is taking a job at IBM as a software engineer-technical support in Raleigh, North Carolina. “The center set up a mock interview for me, guided me with my resume and everything else. They are very proactive and very encouraging.”

Kinloch, who interned with Alcoa, Inc., last year, has been hired by the company as an industrial engineer. He said the Career Development Center “enhanced my ability to prepare for my career.”

“Being able to connect with the Career Development Center and taking advantage of all the services they provide – resume building, printing business cards, mock interviews, critiques – has helped to prepare me for the real world,” said Kinloch, who graduated with a degree in Aeronautical and Industrial Technology.

Eloise Abernathy Alexis, associate vice president for Institutional Advancement at TSU, said the funding is intended to integrate and institutionalize existing and new career development programs, partnerships and principles under four key priority areas, including curriculum, coaching, concepts and connection.

For instance, she said one program the funding will benefit is Backpacks to Briefcases: A Social Media Platform Integrating Career Curriculum, Coaching, Concepts and Connections.

“Our students represent a diverse population of individuals seeking to acquire the academic credentials, training and experience required to embark upon pertinent career opportunities, innovative startups and civic service,” she said. “We must ensure that current TSU students have practical and relevant career preparation as a continuum of TSU’s track record of success after graduation.”

Bertina Reed-Hewett, director of the Career Development Center, agreed.

“We don’t want students to graduate with a mediocre job, we want them to have gainful employment,” 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 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, 22 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 Vintagers Report nearly $256,000 raised for Student Scholarships

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University alumni who graduated from the institution at least 40 years ago recently reported raising more than $250,000 for student scholarships.

The  Vintagers return to their alma mater each spring commencement and hold different functions on graduation day. They dress in caps and gowns, and join the ceremony to relive their graduation day.

TSU’s graduate commencement is Friday, May 6, and the undergraduate ceremony is on Saturday, May 7.

At a luncheon in their honor before the May 6 commencement, the Vintagers made presentations totaling nearly $256,000.

“When you come back and bring a gift like this, you are securing the future of Tennessee State University,” TSU President Glenda Glover told the former students at the packed ceremony on the main campus. “Your gifts are making a tremendous difference in the lives of our students.”

This year’s celebration recognized the classes of 1951, 1956, 1961, 1966 and 1971.

The newest members of the group, the Class of 1976, were inducted into the organization, and pledged to support the institution.

On the fundraising, the Class of 1966 reported $118,067, the most raised by any group. The Class of 1956 came in second with $53,159, followed by the classes of 1971, $35,426; 1976, $32,463; 1951, $9,495; and the Class of 1961, $7,250.

The Vintagers are organized under the Office of Alumni Relations in the Division of Institutional Advancement, which planned the luncheon.

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, 22 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.

Country and gospel singer receives master’s degree from TSU at age 87

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University graduate Lorraine Guth is proof that it is never too late to get a degree.

The 87-year-old criminal justice major was among hundreds of graduate students participating in TSU’s May 6 spring commencement at the Gentry Complex. Guth graduated with a 3.8 grade point average. When she walked on stage to receive her master’s degree, just about everybody in the complex stood to their feet, applauded and cheered.

“It was so exciting,” Guth said after the ceremony. “Words can’t describe how I feel.”

It’s been a long, sometimes tough road for Guth, but she said in an interview before the ceremony that she was determined to further her education and she hopes her persistency inspires others.

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TSU graduate student Lorraine Guth tries on cap and gown before May 6 graduate commencement. (photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

“Life is short, and you have to make the most of it,” Guth said. “We also should try to inspire other people.”

Guth dealt with life’s challenges early on. As a child, she struggled with a learning disorder. But miraculously, she said she gradually overcame the condition, to the point that she was making straight-As in the fourth grade.

“God always seemed to have His hand on me, and still does,” said Guth, who has a strong faith.

In high school, Guth made the honor society, and eventually began to hone a skill she said God gave her: singing.

Most of the songs she listened to and sang were in the country music genre, but it wasn’t long before she found her niche in gospel music.

Guth went on to record more than 10 albums; some country, but mostly gospel. She eventually was inducted into the Atlanta Country Music Hall of Fame, and was named Entertainer of the Year by the Atlanta Society of Entertainers.

“She’s a very talented person,” said Phyllis Cole, director of the Atlanta Society of Entertainers and co-founder of the ACMHF, which gave Guth an “inspiration award.” “She’s just a delightful person, overall; an inspiration.”

Even though her music career was thriving, Guth said education was still important to her. In 2003, she got her undergraduate degree from Georgia State at the age of 74.

She later moved to Tennessee and decided to pursue a master’s degree in criminal justice. Her hard work paid off on May 6 when family and friends watch her get her degree from TSU.

Guth’s great, great grandson, 14-year-old Ethan Earle, traveled from South Carolina to see her graduate.

“I think her achievement is great,” Earle said. “I hope it inspires other people to do better in life, especially to get an education.”

Dr. Alex Sekwat, interim dean of Graduate Studies and Research at TSU, said Guth’s achievement is a “testimony that it’s never too late to graduate from college.”

“Despite life’s daily challenges, Ms. Guth never made excuses in pursuit of her goals and dreams,” Sekwat said. “Her accomplishments should be an inspiration to all students and a testimony to all of us that with determination we can reach our goals and dreams.”

And Guth is continuing to follow her dreams. Now that she has her master’s, she plans to pursue a doctorate degree at TSU.

Dr. Michael Montgomery, coordinator of TSU’s Criminal Justice Graduate Program, said he ‘s glad Guth is continuing her education at TSU.

“I have every reason to believe that she will be successful in this endeavor as well,” Montgomery 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 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, 22 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 prepares graduates to move from the classroom to the workplace

NASHVILE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Matthew Edwards says graduation day will be a culmination of trials and tribulations, redemption and ultimately success when he crosses the stage at Tennessee State University to receive his degree on May 7.

The Agricultural Science major says all the hard work, along with family and faculty support, have paid off and he looks forward to a job as soon as he graduates.

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TSU student Matthew Edwards to graduate with Agriculture degree at spring commencement. (By John Cross, TSU Media Relations).

“The College of Agriculture has a partnership with the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service, and they are considering me for a job after I graduate,” said Edwards. “When they make the offer, I’ll be ready to jump right in.”

Edwards has had his hands full with classes and two jobs to cover college expenses and gain invaluable knowledge he believes will put him above other graduates. He works 30 hours a week for Metro Parks and Recreation in Nashville, and is also a TSU lab technician.

“I congratulate all of our graduates and wish them the very best as they enter a new and exciting chapter of their lives,” said TSU President Glenda Glover. “Commencement is an exciting time for the university because it highlights the academic achievement of our students and the commitment of faculty and staff in their educational and social development. TSU students are prepared to work and serve in the global marketplace.”

Edwards credits the hands on approach from faculty for getting him back on track when he first transferred to TSU in 2013.  The combination of classroom instruction, along with real world exposure the College of Agriculture offered, is what he believes helped the most.  Edwards said he’s fully prepared to compete with others in his field because of programs and partnerships offered in the College of Agriculture.

Dr. De’Etra Young is an assistant professor in the College of Agriculture and coordinator of the Scholars Program. She said the industry partnerships in Agriculture and other TSU departments help prepare students for the workforce, as well as organizations that promote professional development.

“TSU allows our students the opportunity to really gain hands on experiential learning,” Young said.

Employers plan to hire 11 percent more college graduates for U.S. jobs this year than last, according to a survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

Future students and graduates can expect that same attention and focus on employment after graduation from TSU in part due to a $150,000 job placement grant. The University is one of 30 colleges awarded funds from the United Negro College Fund Career to Pathway Initiative. The funds will help students gain the knowledge, preparation, insight and skills needed to secure meaningful employment following graduation.

The more than 1,300 graduates will likely gain more insight about the global marketplace, as well as some words of wisdom, from this spring’s commencement speakers.

TSU alumna Dr. Edith P. Mitchell, a retired Air Force brigadier general who is currently president of the National Medical Association, will speak at the graduate commencement on Friday, May 6 at 5 p.m. at the Gentry Center Complex. Mitchell took over as head of the nation’s oldest professional society for African-American physicians last year. She is also a member of the American Medical Association, and Aerospace Medical Association.

On Saturday, May 7, former Congressman Harold Ford, Jr., will address the undergraduate class at 9 a.m. in Hale Stadium.  Ford, a five-term former member of Congress from Tennessee, is currently a political analyst and contributor for CNBC and MSNBC, and a professor of public policy at New York University. His father, Harold Ford, Sr., is an alumnus of TSU.

The undergraduate ceremony will be streamed live beginning at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday from the University’s homepage. Visit www.tnstate.edu for more information.

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, 22 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.

Double amputee graduates from TSU after more than 30 years, attributes persistency to his mother

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – When Jerry Priddy heard his name called at Tennessee State University’s spring commencement, the 48-year-old double amputee looked to the stands of Hale Stadium for his inspiration: his mother.

“She’s my rock, my role model,” said Priddy, one of hundreds of undergraduate students who participated in TSU’s May 7 commencement.

Priddy said in an interview before the ceremony that his mother, Georgianna Priddy, has been the main motivation behind him finishing school despite his health challenges.

“A single mom, she worked two jobs for more than 40 years to take care of me and my sister,” said Priddy, who has diabetes and is on a kidney transplant list. “She found a way; she never quit. When I get my degree, I’m going to place it in her hand.”

Jerry Priddy-3
Jerry Priddy to graduate at May 7 TSU commencement. (photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

Priddy started at TSU in 1985, but at the time he said he was working over 40 hours a week while also taking 18 credit hours a semester. “Something had to give,” he said, and he decided to take a break from school.

“I figured I was going to leave for a couple of years, and then I’d be back,” he said. “But it never happened like that. Life took a different turn.”

Priddy was soon diagnosed with diabetes. He managed the disease for a while, but then complications resulted after he was bitten by a brown recluse spider. He eventually had to have both legs amputated below the knee.

But that didn’t stop Priddy from trying to reach his ultimate goal. In 2014, he re-enrolled at TSU and continued his pursuit of a music degree with a concentration in voice. A singer and lover of all types of music, Priddy said gospel songs resonate with him the most because “they relate to whatever I’m going through,” adding that “Marvelous,” by singer Walter Hawkins is among his gospel favorites.

“God has done some marvelous things for me,” Priddy said, “like allowing me to come back to school and finish what I started.”

Priddy’s sister, Michelle Vaughn, said her brother’s desire to finish school played a role in her decision to return to TSU. In December, she and her daughter both received degrees in psychology.

“I think it’s phenomenal what he’s doing,” said Vaughn, who works in TSU’s library. “It says that if you really want to do something, you can do it.”

Vaughn added that, like her brother, she also received motivation from her mother.

“That’s just something that she wanted for us,” said Vaughn, referring to their mother’s desire for them to finish school.

When told what her children said about her influence, Georgianna Priddy fought back tears. Then speaking in a soft, modest tone, the 69-year-old TSU post office manager said she was just doing what was necessary to give her children a better life. She said she’s proud of them both, and is particularly looking forward to seeing Jerry get his degree – and sharing in his joy.

“I always told him when he gets his degree, I just want to hold it for a little while,” she said. “I’m so happy that he’s made it to this point. It’s a marvelous thing.”

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, 22 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.