Category Archives: EVENTS

Tennessee State University Academic Boot Camp Eases Worried Parents’ Concern about Children Going Away for College

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Camp counselor TSU Senior Allen McReynolds (Standing) speaks with Boot Camp students (L-R)Tyler Banks, Morgan Ervin, Cayla Jackson and Tyrone Suggs. Academic Boot Camp and Excel-O-Rate, are combined four-week residential initiatives for incoming freshmen already admitted to TSU, to earn academic credit. (photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Stacey Compton is worried.

Like many parents sending their children away for school for the first time, the Aurora, Illinois mother is concerned about how her 18-year-old daughter Sariah Compton will cope when she leaves for college in just a few months.

“She is fresh out of high school and leaving home for the first time ….that’s very unsettling,” said Stacey.

Her worries are slowly subsiding, thanks to two summer enrichment programs at Tennessee State University designed to ensure new students’ successful transition and matriculation through college.

“I am glad she is doing something this summer that is not only keeping her busy but giving her a head start, and helping her to adjust to college life even before school starts,” Stacey added.

And that’s exactly what the TSU programs are intended to achieve, said Dr. Sedric Griffin, director of Admissions and Recruitment.

The programs, Academic Boot Camp and Excel-O-Rate, are combined four-week residential initiatives for incoming freshmen already admitted to TSU, to earn academic credit. They include a rigorous academic and college preparedness program, 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 also key components of the program.

For Tia Geter, from Omaha, Nebraska, who is transitioning to the area, and plans to major in Criminal Justice, the rigorous programs are just what she needs. They help her acclimate, while giving her a more diverse academic and multicultural environment after graduating from “an almost” less diverse high school.

“This is a good way to spend my time instead of staying in bed till about midday and wake up with nothing constructive to do,” said Getter, an honor student, who learned about the program during a college visit. She has a friend at TSU and her father’s job is relocating to the area.

“When I am not in school, I am never up before 11:30 in the morning, but in Boot Camp we are up at 5:30 and ready to start our day,” added Geter, who called her summer camp experience a personal initiative.” I want to succeed in life and I think this is a good start.”

According to program officials, 161 students, recruited from all over the nation, are participating in this year’s Academic Boot Camp and Excel-O-Rate Programs, a 13 percent jump from the previous year.

“By the end of the program, the students will have completed all of TSU’s enrollment processes including financial aid, housing and registration,” said Dr. John Cade, interim vice president for Enrollment Management and Student Support Services. “Many of them are either on full academic scholarships or academic out of state tuition waivers, and as part of the program, they will be monitored through their matriculation to ensure they are receiving the necessary help to make them successful.”

Cade said that the Academic Boot Camp and Excel-O-Rate Programs are part of a three-prong retention and graduation effort, which includes the Take 15 credit per semester initiative and minisemesters which are intended to accelerate student matriculation.

“This combined effort is part of TSU’s retention initiatives in meeting our Complete College Tennessee Act (CCTA) objectives,” Cade added.

With all of these in mind, Stacey Compton can be sure her daughter Sariah made the right choice in selecting TSU.

“I like this program; I am getting help in areas that I need to be strong in to be successful in my college work,” added Sariah, who plans to major in Nursing. She is entering TSU with a 3.5 GPA.

Everett D. Jolly, associate director of Recruitment, and Derek Wilson, admission counselor, are overseeing the summer programs.

 

 

 

 

Department of Media Relations
Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

 

About Tennessee State University

With nearly 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.

Board of Regents to Meet at Tennessee State University for 2014 Summer Quarterly Meeting June 19-20

tbrNASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University will on Thursday, June 19 welcome members of the Tennessee Board of Regents, who will be converging on the campus for their 2014 Summer Quarterly Meeting.

The University is serving as this year’s host of the two-day meeting that brings together the Regents from all parts of the state.

In a welcome letter, TSU President Glenda Glover outlined an elaborate agenda that includes a brief tour of facilities before the Regents begin their meeting in the Performing Arts Center on the main campus.

The agenda also includes dinner and reception at the Avon Williams Campus Plaza.

“The administration, faculty, staff and students of Tennessee State University welcome you as we host the Tennessee Board of Regents Quarterly meeting,” Dr. Glover said. “We look forward to having you on our campus and hope you will find your visit to be both productive and enjoyable.”

 

 

Department of Media Relations
Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

 

About Tennessee State University

With nearly 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 Welcomes Colombian Students for Weeklong Musical Activities, Jefferson Street Jazz Festival

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The Colombian music students hold one of many daily rehearsals in preparation for their United States visit. Since Colombia is known for its Latin music influences and jazz festivals, one of the major highlights of the group’s visit will be attending the Jefferson Street Jazz Festival on June 21.  (Courtesy photo)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service)- Eighteen music students from Colombia will visit Tennessee State University June 20 as part of an exchange program with the South American nation.

In partnership with the U.S. Embassy in Bogota, the Colombian capital, and the Office of the Governor in Cartagena, Bolivar Province, the exchange agreement is part of an effort to promote the University and its academic programs.

Joining the students will be the Governor, Juan Carlos Gossain Rognini; Special Assistant to the Governor Amin Diaz; and El Guamo Mayor Javier Eduardo Angula Romero.

The students and delegation will get a taste of the Music City experience during a weeklong itinerary that also includes museum tours and meetings with government officials, among other activities. Since Colombia is known for its Latin music influences and jazz festivals, one of the major highlights of the group’s visit will be attending the Jefferson Street Jazz Festival on June 21.

“Our partnership with Colombia is important because it provides an excellent opportunity for their students as well as TSU students to better understand each group’s culture, share academic interests and engage in dialogue to expand the scope of higher education,” said Dr. Jewell Winn, TSU’s chief diversity officer and executive director for international programs.

In addition, the students will participate in the Edward L. Graves Band Camp June 21-29 to learn the various techniques of marching band performance. In exchange, a select group of TSU marching band students will visit Cartagena to kick off Bolivar’s annual band competition in August and be the first United States marching band to perform in the Flower Festival.

 

 

Department of Media Relations
Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

 

About Tennessee State University

With nearly 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 to Host KNOW Hunger SNAP Challenge May 29

Tyson Foods and Elanco Partner with Urban League of Middle Tennessee, TSU Cooperative Extension and Community Food Advocates to Educate Leaders on the Misconceptions of SNAP Benefits

 

KNOW-Hunger-SiteNASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Area lawmakers will gain first-hand knowledge on what it’s like to try to feed a family for a week on limited resources when they take part in the SNAP Challenge Thursday, May 29 on the Tennessee State University campus.

Hosted by the TSU Cooperative Extension program, the KNOW Hunger Challenge will take place at the ‪Farrell Westbrook Complex (the Barn) from 1 until 5 p.m.

The Challenge, presented by Tyson Foods and Elanco, is an interactive event designed to increase awareness and fight food insecurity by offering education and nutritional opportunities through Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and firsthand experience with the challenge families face in a budgeted shopping experience. The Urban League of Middle Tennessee is also part of the two-year partnership initiative.

According to Tyson officials, the event is significant because millions of low-income families struggle to provide their families with nutritious meals despite benefits from SNAP, with one in five Tennesseans enrolled in the program.

“Many people can’t fathom feeding a family on $100 per week,” said Jeff Wood, Tyson Foods’ director of Community Relations. “We do this programming to help people understand what SNAP really is, and what it’s not. The experience is very eye opening for most people. Having gone through the challenge myself, I can tell you it’s life changing.”

The SNAP Challenge features teams of legislatures and other elected officials that will be given $100 each to shop for a week’s worth of food for a family of four.  Tennessee State University SNAP-ED educators, as well as hunger advocates from across Tennessee will help teams make their purchases.

The teams are charged with shopping at a local store, then return to the University where their purchases are presented to a panel of judges. The food will be judged on effective use of funds, nutritional value and culinary creativity.

Following the event, the food purchased will be donated to The Nashville Food Project.

“This nation-wide challenge has taken place across the country and serves as a reminder just how difficult it can be to buy food for a family of four when faced with limited resources,” said Rita Fleming, assistant professor of Health Education. “We will have three of our Cooperative Extension SNAP-Ed agents providing assistance on how to make healthy choices on limited funds.”

According to Fleming, the TSU Cooperative Extension program mission is to help educate and provide information to limited resource urban and rural individuals, families, small farmers, and other groups.

“We use a variety of program delivery strategies,” she added, “offering practical and useful research-based programs, resources, and publications in agriculture and natural resources, family & consumer sciences, 4-H youth development, and community resource and economic development.”

This SNAP Challenge is part of KNOW Hunger Nashville, a two-year initiative by Tyson Foods, Urban League of Middle Tennessee and area food advocates to raise awareness of food insecurity and nutrition education. The organizations will also host local health fairs, thought leadership exercises and educational opportunities. The group hosted a health fair with the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Wellness Project last November and plans to launch a website with Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee later this summer that’s designed to help families stretch their food resources further.

Elanco and Tyson Foods created the half-day SNAP Challenge in the spring of 2012. Since that time, 18 groups comprised of more than 450 people have participated.

For more information, contact Fleming at 615.963.2135.

 

 

Department of Media Relations
Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

 

About Tennessee State University

With nearly 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.

16 TSU Students Take in the Beautiful European Summer During a Study Abroad Program in Germany

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Some of the Tennessee State University students on a study-abroad program in Germany, take in the sites in Berlin on a bright summer day. (Courtesy Photo)


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (
TSU News Service) – It is summer, classes are over, ….or so you would think. For16 Tennessee State University students, classes just started, but this time, with a mixture of academics, culture and fun in a faraway land. Read the account of their amazing experience, courtesy of TSU Sports Information.

BERLIN – Classes started early Wednesday morning, May 14, for the 16 students attending Tennessee State’s study abroad program in Germany. Among the topics covered was the history of the Berlin Wall, which also happened to be the first destination on the morning’s itinerary.

“The purpose of the trip is to learn about German history and culture,” Associate Dean of Liberal Arts, Dr. Joel Dark, said. “But it is also intended to help the students think about their own identity in the world.”

The group of TSU scholars and representatives boarded a train headed toward Alexander Plaza at the nearby station, and then took the subway to reach what was left of the Wall.

Dr. Dark filled the crowd in with further insight on the construction and eventual destruction of the barrier, before taking the class toward the Capitol Building.

After seeing the Capitol and grabbing lunch, the contingent rode out beyond Berlin to one of its suburbs to see a concentration camp, Sachsenhausen, firsthand.

It seemed everything in Germany was new and different, and it all had a unique story to tell.

“All of the buildings and churches are really pretty,” TSU women’s golfer Natalie Spicer said. “You can see the history just by walking past. I am so excited to see more, take a lot of pictures and learn about the German way of living.”

Outside of the new sights, a handful of students had to rely on their senses of taste and feeling when they ate at the famous Dark Bar on Tuesday night. The restaurant was pitch black to where diners could not even see the food being served to them.

“At first I was skeptical and scared about eating without seeing, but I eventually got the hang of using your fingers to feel around for the utensils. Also, being able to talk to our group while dining helped calm me down,” Spicer said.

Classes will continue on Thursday and the delegation will visit Humboldt University and see the Brandenburg Gate.

Germany Update Day 1: From Nashville to Newark

NEWARK, N.J. – After leaving the Nashville airport at 4 a.m. for a 6 o’clock flight, the 29 Tennessee State representatives arrived in Newark to await their connecting flight to Berlin, Germany.

The small passenger plane, which barely had enough room to fit the traveling party, touched down at 9 a.m., but not before giving passengers glimpses of the Statue of Liberty and MetLife Stadium. The group then went to eat at the airport food court as they waited to board another plane for their final destination in eight hours.

In the meantime, students and administrators played games, slept and read to kill some time before the nine-hour flight.

This page will serve as an update for the athletic department’s study abroad trip to Europe. Be sure to check back for updates every couple of days including pictures of many historical landmarks.

 

 

Department of Media Relations
Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

 

About Tennessee State University

With nearly 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 Engineering Students Take Part in Annual Air Force Design Competition

AFRLChallenge
A team of engineering students from Tennessee State University representing the fields of mechanical design, electrical and computer engineering, and computer science joined 15 other universities and three service academies at Arnold Air Force Base recently for the annual Air Force Research Laboratory Collegiate and Service Academy Engineering Design Competition. This year’s challenge centered on a problem routinely faced by Air Force pararescuemen and other military units — lifting up of heavy armored vehicles to rescue fellow soldiers pinned or trapped inside, similar to the vehicle pictured. (courtesy photo)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – A team of engineering students from Tennessee State University joined 15 other universities and three service academies at Arnold Air Force Base recently to find a solution to a problem routinely encountered by members of the military…designing a portable one-man heavy lifting device capable of lifting 45,000 pounds.

The teams came together April 14-17 at Arnold Engineering Development Complex in middle Tennessee for the annual Air Force Research Laboratory Collegiate and Service Academy Engineering Design Competition. TSU fielded a 12-person team and joined forces with Prairie View A&M University. Students represented the fields of mechanical design, electrical and computer engineering, and computer science.

Now in its third year, the competition revolves around a single engineering challenge aimed at fostering innovative and creative solutions. This year’s challenge centered on a problem routinely faced by U.S. Air Force pararescuemen and other military units. The weight of armored vehicles and frequent encounters with improvised explosive devices or damage from combat operations occasionally require these up-armored vehicles be lifted to rescue fellow soldiers pinned or trapped inside. These heavy lift devices are also routinely used in rescue operations of collapsed structures or downed aircraft.

The challenge this year was to design a lifting device that was portable, lightweight, and could lift a structure, aircraft or armored vehicles at least 24 inches high that would effectively lift a 45,000-pound vehicle sufficient to retrieve trapped personnel.

“The current constraint is the inability to make kits available in small enough volume and weight factor,” said Dr. Fenghui Yao, professor of Computer Science and the team’s leader. “A successful rescue is a controlled operation that is immediately deployed to prevent crushing or further damage to equipment and personnel. Our mindset was to ‘lift an inch, shore an inch’ for stability of lifting the heavy load.”

Devon Parker, a senior Air Force mechanical engineer at AEDC, was the host and manager for the national competition on behalf of the Air Force Research Laboratory. In addition to managing the competition, he provided regular feedback to the design teams throughout the academic year during design reviews. While this was designed principally to ensure the teams fully understood the problem, it also allowed him to ensure the trial phase conducted at AEDC could safely accommodate all of the various design entries during demonstration.

“The challenge was a 40,000-pound bulldozer resting on an deep incline deep within the Tennessee Guard Volunteer Training Site,” said Parker. “The competition and the teams were supported by a number of experienced Air Force pararescuemen from around the country – who performed work under the load for the student teams, as instructed by the respective student team leader.”

The team from Tennessee State University developed and designed two solutions to the problem. According to Yao, the first solution was entered and competition along with the solution provided by the Prairie View students. Both were able to execute the required lifting task successfully.

Ultimately, the team from Auburn University delivered a design solution that met the objective while also achieving significant progress in many of the additional design constraints. Their solution consisted of a mixed air bag system, built of Kevlar and Vectran in their own laboratory.

Regardless of their performance on the field trial, there were portions of each entry that offered further opportunity for creative development. There were mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, and hybrid solutions developed and demonstrated, said Parker.

“Engineering designs and team creativity were all put to the test,” he said. “Regardless of individual results, every team came away with a more profound understanding of why it is essential that engineers leave their office desks and get their hands dirty when working on a problem.”

Even though the joint TSU/Prairie View A&M team did not win the competition, it provided valuable design experience for the students.

“It is this type of first-hand experience that enables engineers to fully comprehend the scope of any problem,” said Yao. “It allows them to work more effectively as part of any product development or problem solving team.”

Dr. Landon Onyebueke, professor of Mechanical Engineering; and Dr. Saleh Zein-Sabatto, professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, assisted Yao and the Challenge team.

 

 

 

Department of Media Relations
Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

 

About Tennessee State University

With nearly 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 Student Affairs Administrators Receive State, National Career and Professional Development Opportunities

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Two senior staff members of the Division of Student Affairs at Tennessee State University have been selected to participate in separate prestigious state and national programs that offer career-enhancing and professional development opportunities.

Green
Dr. Cheryl Green

Dr. Cheryl Green, assistant vice president of Student Affairs, has been named a Maxine Smith Fellow with the Tennessee Board of Regents; while Dr. Jame’l Hodges, assistant dean of Student Life and Engagement, has been selected to participate in the Mid-Manager’s Institute at Texas Christian University this summer.

As a Maxine Smith Fellow, Green will have the opportunity to experience how decisions are made at the TBR senior administrative and governing board levels.

The fellowship, established as a TBR central office Geier initiative, is designed to provide African-American TBR employees the opportunity to participate in a working and learning environment that enhances work experience and career development. The objective is to increase the academic and professional credentials of the fellows, as well as help to increase the number of qualified applicants from underrepresented groups for senior-level administrative positions at TBR institutions.

Hodges
Dr. Jame’l Hodges

For Hodges, his summer experience with the Mid-Manager’s Institute will give him and other mid-level professionals from around the nation the opportunity to develop skills, relationships and dispositions that distinguish them, as well as help them make more meaningful contributions to the programs and people they serve.

“This institute is an amazing opportunity to learn from the best in higher education,” Hodges said, upon hearing of his selection. “I am excited to learn about innovative programs, policies and procedures from those who will attend and I am equally eager to teach others about the best practices here at TSU.”

The institute is sponsored by Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, and the Southern Association for College Student Affairs.

Called the 2014 NASPA Region III/SACSA Mid-Managers Institute, the five-day (June 1-5) program will discuss topics such as navigating politics and campus climate, strategic planning, synergy between academic affairs and student affairs, and exploring professional competences and career planning.

 

 

 

Department of Media Relations
Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

 

About Tennessee State University

With nearly 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.

In Spite of Inclement Weather Threat, TSU Outdoor Spring Commencement Goes on Without a Hitch

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A graduating senior at TSU’s Spring Commencement Ceremony Saturday holds a sign that expresses the sentiments of the more than 1,100 who received their degrees at the program. (Photo by Rick Delahaya, TSU Media Relations)


NASHVILLE, Tenn.
(TSU News Service) – After a brief delay Saturday, Tennessee State University dodged an inclement weather forecast to hold its spring commencement at a packed Hale Stadium.

More than 1,100 undergraduate and graduate students received their degrees in various disciplines under a clear, sunny day, with their names and faces in digital displays projected on two massive jumbotron screens during the outdoor ceremony on the main campus.

Prior to the commencement, students, family members and other invited guests who had arrived early for the planned ceremony in the stadium, took cover in nearby Gentry Center to wait out a rain shower. The crowd went back to the “Hole” after the brief downpour and the commencement went on without a hitch.

“We got exactly what our family came here for,” said Gina Benton, of Dayton, Ohio, responding to an apology from TSU President Glenda Glover about the brief inconvenience posed by the weather. “We came here with about 20 family members to watch my son graduate and that’s exactly what we got. With such a beautiful outcome, the weather was a minor issue.”

Benton’s son, Erik, received his degree in Business Administration with honors.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, the commencement speaker, apparently not fazed by the weather threat, told the graduates that 55 percent of available jobs in the state would need people with college degrees and the necessary skills to fill those positions.

“Tennessee State University has prepared you to compete for those those jobs and the challenges in life,” Haslam said. “Those challenges will help you handle potential disappointments that come with success.”

The Governor reminded the students to face life with humility and remember those who helped them achieve their higher education goals.

“You did not get to this day by yourself. Thank those who were there with you,” Haslam added.  “Learn to celebrate others. You have been called to play a role that will require your full potential. To fulfill that role will require you to continue to improve yourselves by being lifelong learners.”

Before the conferring of degrees, President Glover presented Gov. Haslam with a special plaque for “accepting our invitation and for inspiring not just these graduates but all of us.”

The President also recognized and presented special awards to this year’s group of Vintagers, former TSU graduates who celebrated their 50th year of graduation from TSU.

Dr. Glover announced an over $55,000 contribution from the group to their alma mater.

“We thank you for your generous contribution and for returning to celebrate with us,” the President said.

 

 

Department of Media Relations
Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

 

About Tennessee State University

With nearly 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.

Held Together by Screws, Nuts and Bolts, “Ultimate Bionic Woman” to Graduate from Tennessee State University

Karen Munoz
Karen Munoz

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Fresh out of an abusive marriage with no money, mounting bills and three children to care for, Karen Denese Munoz had no where to go but down, at least so she thought.

With a last gasp for relief, the college dropout turned to her father, Leo Ronald Summers Sr., for advice on how to cope.

“Don’t complain when you don’t have; learn to improvise,” the retired Army lieutenant told his daughter.

While Munoz said her father’s response was not exactly the answer she was looking for, it gave her a different perspective on life and how to find strength in the face of difficulties and unfortunate circumstances.

No doubt that renewed sense of determination has worked well for Munoz, who will accomplish a journey she started more than 32 years ago.

In spite of multiple surgeries and operations to repair a crushed vertebrae, head injuries and a broken neck and back, that left her in constant pain and in a state of severe depressive disorder and anxiety, the Fort Hood, Texas, native will receive her college degree when Tennessee State University hold its spring commencement May 10.

“I live by trying to improvise as my father told me,” Munoz said about how she was able to maintain a near 3.0 GPA to graduate with a degree in Business Administration and a concentration in Human Resource Management, despite her disorder, which has left her unable to fully concentrate, think or remember “as others.”

“I had to study twice as hard as the average person to concentrate and retain,” said Munoz, who keeps sticky notes “everywhere” to help her remember.

Munoz’s college journey began in 1983 at TSU as an Architectural Engineering major. Three years into her college work, things began to unravel for the young, promising student. Married at the time, with children and a physically and mentally abusive husband, who insisted she seeks full-time employment, she quit school to work with the Metro Public School Harris Hillman as a Para Professional.

Although Munoz eventually walked out of her marriage, having to care for her children alone, a series of unfortunate events soon began to unfold that would change the course of her life forever. Because of the seriousness of her neck and vertebrae injuries, she was reassigned to several different departments in Metro. Finally she received permanent placement at the Transportation Department.

One day while getting something from the supply closet at work with the door opened, Munoz said, a coworker (who was not aware of her presence) pushed the door, apparently trying to open it while she was behind, the knob on the other side hit her directly in the tail bone. The force sent her crashing, head first, into the door paneling ahead, crushing her vertebrae.

As if fate had an unfinished business with Munoz, while recovering from that injury, she was in a car accident that left her with a broken back and neck.

“I was in a concussion that lasted two years,” she said. “My vertebrae had to be fused from the top to the bottom through a process called spinal track titanium fusion. That’s the only thing that’s holding my head up. I do not have any peripheral view because I cannot move my head side to side. I can only look ahead.”

For Munoz, being able to cope through all her pain and suffering have not come without a good sense of humor.

“I am the ultimate bionic woman,” she said.  “If you move all of the titanium from my body I will never move again. My condition is irreversible.”

Saying that she is being held together by modern technology, Munoz is thankful to God, her family and the doctors at Vanderbilt Hospital for giving her a chance, although she laments the constant pain from screws, nuts and bolts in her body.”

“The pain never goes away; I have to take medication to sleep. This is something I live with,” she added.

But with all of what seem to be impairments, and getting out of yet another physically and mentally abusive relationship, in addition to losing her job with Metro, Munoz said she was constantly haunted by her desire to complete her college work.

“These disabilities from my injuries affected me so much at work that I asked for an IOD (Injured while on Duty and or Medical Disability) waiver, which Metro denied and fired me,” Munoz said, adding that the denial and subsequent dismissal gave her more inspiration.

With five children (including a step son and a nephew), no job, her house in foreclosure and no money, Munoz said she applied for and was granted financial aid loan at TSU.

“When they checked my record they told me I was a senior and I had only few credits to complete my college work,” she said.

Munoz immediately went to work, with the deeply imbedded thought of the advice her father had given her, and the urging of her mother to leave her second abusive husband and return to school. She registered with a full load of college work.

“I decided I would pursue my degree in the hopes of changing my circumstances. I studied twice as hard, using my sleeplessness to my advantage to take in as much as I could,” she said.

Even at that, Munoz, whose father is also a TSU graduate, said many times she wanted to quit, having been out of school for nearly 32 years, but a sign on the Business Information board at the Avon Williams campus that read, “You are never too old to achieve your goal,” inspired her to press on.

“It was at that moment that I went full steam ahead stopping at nothing to achieve this goal which I had dreamed of all these years,” she said.

And so she did.

Munoz, 48, who is now married to Lugo San Munoz, a Salvadoran native, said she plans to go to graduate school and open a preparatory college in El Salvador for underprivileged high school students who have graduated high school but have no where to go. The school will be named Summers International Integration College of Excellence, after her father and mother who have been her inspiration.

“The hope is to partner with El Salvador to send their students to TSU and after they graduate they will return to their country where they will teach others.

“This is my lifelong dream. This is what God has sent me forth to do, and I intend to improvise in anyway possible to accomplish that ….screws, nuts, bolts or not.”

 

READ more student success stories including:

Johnathan Fitzgerald
Annette Scruggs

 

Department of Media Relations
Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

 

About Tennessee State University

With nearly 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.

Cooperative Extension’s Farmer Academy Training to Benefit Returning Veterans, Ranchers and New Farmers

Unknown-2NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – The Tennessee State University Cooperative Extension program in the College of Agriculture, Human and Natural Sciences will host a “New Farmer Academy” to help inspire a new generation of farmers, ranchers and returning veterans to develop successful small farm enterprises in the state, beginning June 16.

The academy, which targets potential owners of small acreages who desire information on how to best utilize their land and other resources to produce crops and raise livestock, will meet on the third Monday of each month from June to October, with graduation set for November 17. Graduates will earn a certificate while gaining hands-on practical agricultural training and advice from mentors. Each participant will receive a notebook including workshop presentations and other helpful resources.

“Here at Tennessee State University, we are very pleased to provide this opportunity to anyone but specifically to new farmers and returning veterans who are interested in starting a small farm operation in Tennessee,” said Dr. Latif Lighari, associate dean for Extension.

Topics to be addressed during the six-month program include: Agricultural Leadership, Agricultural Regulations; Agri-Tourism; Enterprise Selection; Financial Planning; Fruit and Vegetable Production; Hydroponics and Irrigation; Organic Production; Farm Equipment Selection, Maintenance and Safety; Soil Fertility and Suitability; Small Flock Poultry Production; and Value-Added Agribusiness and Direct Marketing Techniques.

The cost to attend is $150 per person and includes all educational material and a lunch at each session. To register, contact Rhonda Ewing at (615) 963-1351 or rewing1@tnstate.edu. For more information about this program, contact Finis Stribling at (931) 375-5301 or fstribling@tnstate.edu.