Category Archives: FACULTY

College of Agriculture hosts Environmental Justice Academy

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University’s College of Agriculture recently hosted a program to equip students with the tools to address environmental and public health challenges in their communities.

Eleven students from eight 1890 Land Grant Universities participated in the Environmental Justice Academy March 19-21. Academy participants engaged in a series of virtual and interactive classroom sessions that help shape the principles of an effective Environmental Justice leader.

Courses included environmental law and regulations, community capacity building, strategic partnership and development of replication of best practices.

“I’m glad to collaborate with the US Forest Service and Environmental Protection Agency to pilot the 1890 Environmental Justice Academy,” said Dr. De’Etra Young, assistant professor in the College of Ag. “We’re equipping students to be leaders.”

Besides TSU, participating institutions included: Alcorn University, Florida A&M Law, Fort Valley State University, South Carolina State University, Southern University and A&M College, Tuskegee University, and University of Maryland Eastern Shore.

Participant Brittanii Wade will be finishing law school in Florida A&M in a little over a month and plans to pursue environmental justice.

“Environmental justice ensures that every community, especially minority communities, have clean air, clean water, and clean soil,” said Wade. “I need the tools that they’re teaching so I can apply them at the community level, city level, state level, federal level, whichever direction I go in.”

To learn more about TSU’s College of Agriculture, visit  http://www.tnstate.edu/agriculture/.

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 7,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

Future music composer says TSU education is paving the way for a successful career

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Jakori Hollinger’s career goal is to own an orchestra company to compose music for film, television and artists. He believes he is well on his way at Tennessee State University.

“I am in the right place,” says the junior music education major from Montgomery, Alabama. “Tennessee State University has a great music program with well-rounded professors, and being in the heart of Nashville, a major center for music and entertainment, makes it so much better.”

Jakori Hollinger

Hollinger, a highly recruited and multi-talented student from Jefferson Davis High School, came to TSU with a near 3.7 grade point average. In high school, the first-degree black belt was trumpet section leader and drum major in the marching band.

”Being a part of the band played a heavy role in my decision to come to Tennessee State University,” says Hollinger, adding that his interest in music developed by accident.

“When I was in the 9th grade, I had a choice of going to the marching band or joining some type of club in school. For some reason, the name marching band had a ring to it that appealed to me. I tried it out and it stuck with me. I liked the people; I really liked the atmosphere. After that, my love for music just grew.”

At TSU, Hollinger is a member of the world-renowned Aristocrat of Bands, a member of the Golden Key National Honor Society (with a 3.6 GPA), a member of the student branch of the Tennessee Educators Association, and a member of Eta Xi Chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity of America.

Dr. Reginald McDonald, TSU’s director of bands, describes Hollinger as very mild-mannered and a hard worker who never complains.

“I just have been extremely pleased with him,” says McDonald. “He’s another example of how the Aristocrats don’t take lightly their responsibility as major ambassadors for our university, and also living the true-life student musician. That’s Jakori.”

With a concentration in instrumental music, Hollinger says he plans to go to graduate school to study composition and some day teach music on the secondary or collegiate level. Like most of his professors, who are TSU graduates, he would like to come back to his college alma mater to give back.

“All of them have been in the industry. They have actually done great things and are very successful,” says Hollinger, about his professors. “For most of them to come back and are teaching us the dos and don’ts on how to be successful in the business is amazing.”

Hollinger adds that TSU has been good to him. Many things stand out during his college career, but being a part of the Aristocrat of Bands as a freshman, when they performed for former President Barack and Michelle Obama at the White House, is one “I will never forget.”

“Hopefully, I plan to finish my career by being … an arranger/composer, as a way to give back to my alma mater,” says Hollinger.

For more information on the TSU Aristocrat of Bands, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/aristocratofbands/

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 7,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

State Sen. Raumesh Akbari to Speak at TSU Honors Day Convocation March 26; University to Recognize Best and Brightest

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University will recognize its best and brightest students at the annual Honors Day Convocation in Kean Hall on Tuesday, March 26.

State Sen. Raumesh Akbari, of the 29th District, will be the keynote speaker.

About 2,340 students with grade point averages of 3.0 or higher will be recognized. Of that number, 283 are on the President’s List. These students have maintained a 4.0 GPA throughout their matriculation, according to Dr. Coreen Jackson, interim dean of the Honors College.

Some of the students, administrators and staff of the Honors College celebrate during the recent Honors Week observance on campus. (Submitted Photo)

TSU President Glenda Glover, faculty, and administrators will be on hand to congratulate the honors students.

Akbari, formerly a member of the Tennessee House of Representative for the 91st district, is a member of the Senate Commerce and Labor, Energy, Agriculture and Natural Resources, and Ethics Committees. She also serves as 2nd Vice-Chair of the Senate Education Committee.

A graduate of Washington University and the Saint Louis University School of Law, Akbari is chair of the Senate Democratic Caucus; treasurer of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL), a state director within Women in Government, and financial secretary of the National Organization of Black Elected Legislative Women. 

She has received several honors and awards from the Council of State Governments and its affiliated Southern Leadership Conference, Leadership Memphis, Leadership Tennessee, the National Council of State Legislatures, and the State Legislative Leaders Foundation.

In 2016, the Democratic National Committee invited Akbari to speak at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

 For more information on the Honors Day Convocation, go to http://www.tnstate.edu/honors/.

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 7,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

Angela Rye Inspires Attendees to Take Political Action At Annual Scholarship Fundraiser Honoring Outstanding Women

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Political commentator and analyst Angela Rye served as the special guest for this year’s Women of Legend and Merit Awards Dinner at Tennessee State University, as part of the TSU Women’s Center’s effort to celebrate Women’s History Month.

Rye, who offers regular on-air commentary for several media outlets including BET, CNN, MSNBC, and TV One, spoke briefly from the podium and then participated in a seated interview-style presentation. She answered questions from various attendees, including TSU President Glenda Glover and addressed several issues, such as affirmative action, the legitimacy of legacy admissions and the need for a black agenda.

“I want to help establish what a black agenda should look like, not just for 2020, but ongoing,” Rye said.  “Do you all know that before the Emancipation Proclamation, every year black folks met to talk about our political agenda? The last time we did that collectively, where there was a lot of attention drawn to it, was in 1972 in Gary, Indiana.”

During a light-hearted moment towards the end of the conversation, Glover suggested a petition be started for Rye to run for president.  She encouraged the audience with the chant, “Run! Angie Run! Run! Angie Run!”

Angela Rye

“You want me to run right out that door,” Rye jokingly replied.

Seanne Wilson, chairperson of the event, which took place in Kean Hall Auditorium, said the annual awards dinner raises money for student scholarships and highlights the careers of women she hopes her students will emulate.

“As we know, this is the year of the woman, and women are being more vocal, and we are owning who we are. It’s very important with us attempting to educate these young ladies, that they are aware of opportunities and not afraid to speak out and to speak up for their rights,” said Wilson, who serves as coordinator of the TSU Women’s Center.

According to Wilson, the center is a “safe zone” for women at TSU who experience issues such as fear, anxiety and depression, as well as domestic violence, homelessness and the lack of food.

Lyric Carter, a freshman civil engineering major who serves as a work-study student for the Women’s Center, said she was inspired by Rye’s comments.

” If we don’t speak for us, who is going to speak for us,” Carter said.

Vivian Wilhoite, Metropolitan Nashville and Davidson County property accessor and a former Women of Legend and Merit honoree, said the event is important because it celebrates the women.

“We do not do enough to recognize women in the various areas of the world, whether it be in business or leadership or government or strong women committed to different topics and issues,” she said.  “I really think there are so many women doing so many different things, and we really cannot do enough to honor them.”

Several women where  honored during this year’s event including: Veronica Marable Johnson, Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce New Member Representative; Dr. Robbie Melton, TSU interim dean of the Graduate School; Karen Johnson, Davidson County Register of Deeds; Attorney Cynthia Fitzgerald; Attorney Joy Kimbrough; Dr. Judy Cummings, Pastor of New Covenant Christian Church; and Zaya Mouto, a sophomore Business Administration major who received the “Rising Star” Award.

For more information about how to support the TSU Women’s Center, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/womenscenter/

Editors Note: Featured photo by Ramona Whitworth Wiggins

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 7,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

Spring Preview Day expected to Attract Hundreds on April 13

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Hundreds of students and parents are expected to attend Spring Preview Day 2019 at Tennessee State University on April 13, organizers say. 

The Office of Enrollment Management and Student Success says high school seniors and juniors from across the nation will attend the one-day event in the Floyd-Payne Campus Center. Last year, more than 800 attended Spring Preview Day.

TSU staff, right, talk to visiting students and parents about the university’s offerings and programs during Spring Preview 2018. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

The visiting students and their parents and relatives – from about 15 states including, California, Texas, Michigan, Illinois and Wisconsin – will have the opportunity to see the campus during springtime, as well as acquaint them with the university’s offerings and admission processes.

Activities for the visitors, according to organizers, will also include meetings with academic departments, TSU student organizations, campus tours, entertainment by the world-renowned Aristocrat of Bands, and the Big Blue Tiger Spring Blue & White Football Game in Hale Stadium.

“Spring Preview Day will be an opportunity for students to come, meet and greet professors and administrators at TSU to get a feel for what it means to be a student here,” says Terrence Izzard, associate vice president for Enrollment Management and Student Success. “Most of all, we want to inspire them to continue their academic pursuits and make TSU their choice.”

Spring Preview Day 2019 comes on the heels of “Experience TSU,” another innovative recruitment campaign that will soon kick off in three major markets – Memphis, March 27; Chattanooga, March 30; and Birmingham, April 6. The aim is to meet students where they are.

TSU President Glenda Glover is leading the campaign to meet prospective students face-to-face to ensure their commitment to attend TSU.

These recruitment efforts follow sweeping changes Glover announced in 2016 that raised admission standards, as the university moved to increase retention and graduation rates. Minimum requirements for incoming freshmen went up from a 2.25 GPA to 2.5, while the ACT score remained at 19. 

Izzard said “Experience TSU” is a way of “personally congratulating these students for applying and being accepted” to TSU.

“We look forward to personally welcoming these students and their parents to our campus to let them know of all the wonderful opportunities to grow and learn while here at Tennessee State University,” says Izzard. 

Spring Preview Day will kick off at 10 a.m. in Kean Hall. For more information, go to http://www.tnstate.edu/emss/


Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 7,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

Nation’s Army Research chief Visits TSU, says University’s Research Aligns Well with Military’s Needs

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – The U.S. Army’s top research officer says Tennessee State University is engaged in research that could be beneficial to the nation’s military.

Dr. Philip Perconti, director of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Research Laboratory, made the comment during a one-day visit to TSU on March 14, with members of his directorate to discuss areas of potential research collaboration that could help the military.

Dr. Philip Perconti, Director of the Army Research Laboratory, makes a presentation to TSU faculty, graduate students, and visiting researchers and experts from the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command. (Photo by Reginald Cannon)

“There is a vast array of research here, much of it in line with some of the priorities of the U.S. Department of Defense and the Army in particular,” he said. “I was particularly excited to see some work in infrared detector materials and modeling and things of that sort.”

Perconti and his team, including Dr. Jaret C. Riddick, director of Vehicle Technology Directorate of the Army Combat Capabilities Command, saw presentations on cutting-edge research, toured research facilities, and held discussions with top TSU research officials, faculty and their graduate students.

They also made presentations in areas of needs that could be aligned with the university’s capabilities.

“We are extremely excited to have Dr. Perconti and members of his research directorate on our campus,” said Dr. Lesia Crumpton-Young, vice president for Research and Institutional Advancement. “It is even more exciting to have them recognize that  – by seeing our presentations, listening to our faculty, being in our laboratories – that we are doing cutting-edge research that fits within their needs and that’s going to help to provide outstanding, innovative new solutions.”

Branndon Jones, a graduate student in mechanical engineering, attended the discussion with his professor, Dr. Amir Shirkhoadaie, who was one of the TSU presenters.

Jones said the discussions and responses of the visitors were very encouraging for “a young researcher like me.”

“A meeting like this justifies the work you are doing, because for the most part, you show up in the lab and you stay there all day to find outcome,” said Jones, whose research is in remote sensing and virtual environment for object detection.  “But you come to a gathering like this and see that the research you are doing actually has real-world problems and examples that you are working toward.”

Riddick said there is an opportunity for Army science and technology to interface with the “very critical areas of research here at TSU.”

“Talent management is one of the priorities of the Secretary of the Army as we go into this transformation into Army futures command,” he said. “So if we can look for innovative partners, in terms of developing talents and developing work force, this will be key for the Army in reaching some of the future objectives we have for war fighters of the future.”

As a result of the visit, a TSU faculty, Dr. Kevin Santiago, research assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, was offered a full faculty fellowship to work with the Army Research Laboratory. He was also invited to bring a graduate student with him.

“TSU has provided me with many opportunities in my short time here, and my goal is to pass those opportunities down to the students,” Santiago said. 

Crumpton-Young paid special tribute to Maj. Gen. Cedric T. Wins, head of the U.S. Army’s Research, Development and Engineering Command, whose visit to TSU in 2017, she said, paved the way for the March 14 visit.

“I am thankful to the entire team for organizing the visit, but I am also thankful to Maj. Gen. Wins who visited our campus several years ago and really talked about how we should engage more individuals with diversity of thoughts,” Crumpton-Young 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 7,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU College of Engineering receives $1M award for scholarships to recruit graduate students

NASHVILLE, Tenn.  (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University’s College of Engineering is ramping up its recruitment efforts for graduate students and has scholarship dollars to seal the deal. The increase in scholarship offers is courtesy of a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation to support graduate students.

The award, “Scholarships To Attract and Retain Students (STARS) in Graduate Engineering and Computer Science Programs,” will provide 30 scholarships to students who are pursuing master’s degrees in engineering or computer science over five years.  

Dr. S. Keith Hargrove, dean of the College of Engineering, said the scholarship program will support the College’s effort to

recruit and grow the graduate programs in engineering and computer science. 

He said the funds should be available by May 1 and that scholarships will likely start being awarded this summer to students in and outside of Tennessee. Applications will be reviewed by the College of Engineering. Hargrove said applicants will be evaluated on their grade point average (at least 3.4), research interest, and their discipline.

“We are strategically focused to increase our enrollment through the graduate program and increase our research activities in advanced materials, cybersecurity, and data sciences and analytics,” said Hargrove.  “We recently reformed our graduate degree programs in engineering, and this funding will allow us to recruit talented students to pursue a master’s in engineering or computer science.”

As part of the college’s strategic plan, the goal is to increase graduate enrollment by at least 25 percent in areas of research. 

In addition to financial support, the program will include cohort-building activities, graduate student support services, seminars, summer internships, and mentorship. 

Dr. Frances Williams, the project’s Principal Investigator (PI) and associate dean, said the “measures are crucial in providing for recruitment, retention, and graduation of graduate students.“

“This is imperative as the United States is faced with a human resource challenge in its need to produce more domestic scientific and engineering talent with advanced competencies,” she said.

In addition to Williams and Hargrove, the project team includes, Dr. Catherine Armwood-Gordon, TSU assistant professor of Civil and Architectural Engineering; and Dr. Ebony O. McGee of Vanderbilt University. 

“I would like to personally thank the strong support of Vice President Lesia Crumpton-Young, Director Phyllis Danner, and the entire (TSU) office team of the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs,” said Hargrove.

To learn more about TSU’s College of Engineering, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/engineering/

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 7,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

Mass communication students visit home of music icon Lionel Richie during L.A. visit

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University mass communication students got a special treat in Los Angeles recently when they visited the home of music legend Lionel Richie.

The students were in L.A. as part of their Extreme Spring Break trip. Joining the students was Joe Richie, who serves as Director of the Center for Media Arts and Production, which is housed within the Department of Communications. Joe Richie and Lionel Richie are first cousins.

Joe Richie (right) and cousin Lionel. (Submitted photo)

Lionel Richie talked to the students about the media business and how to make the most of their talents and gifts, according to Dr. Tameka Winston, department chair and associate professor.

“Our students had an amazing time during their immersive learning experience,” she said.

As part of Extreme Spring Break, students earn course credit for the week-long experience that provides them with actual hands on learning in the fields of journalism, film and Television, and Marketing/PR.

The students also get one-on-one time with industry professionals, diversity officers, internship coordinators, and hiring managers.

Winston said she hopes the students will have the same success as those who have graduated from the department.

Spencer Glover, a 2012 TSU graduate, took home the Emmy editing/program during the 33rd Annual Midsouth Regional Emmy Awards on Feb. 16. He was awarded for his work on “The Passion for Music,” a production for Yamaha Entertainment Group.

“We are so excited when our students and faculty are awarded for their hard work and excelling in their profession,” said Winston.

Also at the awards ceremony, Airielle Vincent, an assistant professor of mass communications, won her second Emmy as weekend newscast producer with Fox 17. She was recognized for a story on a church shooting.

To learn more about the Department of Communications, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/Communications/.

31 High Achieving Students from Hillsboro High School Interact with TSU’s Best and Brightest During Honors Week

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – The Tennessee State University Honors College recently hosted 31 high achieving students from Nashville’s Hillsboro High School as part of TSU Honors Week celebration.

Dr. Frances Williams, Associate Dean of the College of Engineering, holds a discussion with visiting Hillsboro High School students. (Submitted Photo)

The Honors College and Hillsboro High are partners in a two-year exceptional student acceleration program called IBDP, or Academy of the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme, that nurtures students to excel in higher education.

Participants in IBDP are top juniors and seniors who take advanced placement and honors courses in the 9th and 10 grades to prepare them for IB-level classes in the 11th and 12th grades.

Dr. Coreen Jackson, interim dean of the Honors College, said the visit of the high school students allowed them to interact and exchange notes with TSU Honors students, as well as expose the visitors to the university’s programs and offerings.

“We are delighted to have these top students from Hillsboro High visit our campus and to interact with the best among our students,” said Jackson, who also serves on the advisory board of the Hillsboro High School IB program. “I think having many more partnerships like this with more high schools in the city would help to create a pipeline for increased enrollment into the myriad of majors at TSU.”

Visiting Hillsboro High School students take part in an exercise. (Submitted Photo)

Among activities for the day was “Real Talk,” a panel discussion about college life and advanced learning.

“Do you all have tutoring and personal help here?” a Hillsboro High student, who wants to major in biology, asked. Another was concerned about how honors students fit in and how they are viewed on campus. They were informed about the many tutoring and mentoring programs available to students, and the friendly learning environment on campus.

“I am from India, and even though it was a huge cultural shock, Tennessee State University has made me feel more than welcome,” said Abhilasha Vishwanath, a senior psychology major and Honors student with a 4.0 grade point average. “I play tennis for the university, work in the bookstore, I am part of several organizations, serve on the Honors Council, and I’ve never felt out of place.”

Following the panel discussion, the students were divided into groups according to their academic career interest and dialogued with faculty and staff from engineering, business, liberal arts, education, and life and physical sciences disciplines. Everett Jolly, TSU director of recruitment; Kristin Gray, director of the First-Year Experience; and Barbara Kannard, coordinator for Student Success Initiative, also met and spoke with the visitors.

Barbara Kannard, TSU Coordinator of Student Success Initiative, talks to Hillsboro High School students about opportunities at the university. (Submitted Photo)

Dr. Kenyae L. Reese, Academy principal at Hillsboro High, who accompanied the students, said the visit was very rewarding.

“The faculty and staff of the Hillsboro High School Academy of International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme is delighted to partner with the TSU Honors College in creating exceptional experiences for advanced academic students,” Reese said. “The experiential learning trip to celebrate Honors College Week at TSU was both informative and inspiring in scope. The students reported being most excited to learn from the Honors College students and professors and other professionals who provided valuable advice.”

Earlier, TSU Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. John Robinson, joined Jackson to welcome the Hillsboro High School students.

“This is our time to change the narrative, assist our recruiters, and utilize our high achieving students to tell our story that TSU is truly the place to be,” Jackson said.

On March 26, TSU will celebrate its best and brightest students when the university holds its annual Honors Day Convocation in Kean Hall.

For more information on the TSU Honors College, go to http://www.tnstate.edu/honors/about/welcome_page.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 7,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU Graduating Senior and SGA President Publishes Children’s Book about Inspiration, Courage

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Kayla McCrary is an author!

Her children’s book, “Dream Girl, Dream!,” with illustrations by Brandon Van Leer, just came out and it is receiving wide acclaim.

“Writing has always been my first love and it’s always something I wanted to do,” she says. “So when I found the inspiration, I said I really want to write a children’s book.”

“Dream Girl, Dream,” based on personal experiences, courage and an effort to inspire young kids to be their best, comes amid personal tragedy and the need for strength to move on.

Now a graduating senior and president of the Student Government Association at Tennessee State University, McCrary lost her mother in the first semester of her freshman year at TSU. Her mother’s death also meant becoming the sole mother figure for her then 5-year-old sister, Regan Christian. Devastated, lost and confused, McCrary says she was torn between dropping out and trying to help her sister cope with the aftermath of their mother’s passing.

“It was hard,” says McCrary, an Atlanta native. “Losing our mother at such an early age for my little sister, and me just starting in college, was very difficult for me. She was our biggest support and friend. I thought, how is my sister going to make it and how can I concentrate on school when she needs me?”

Surprisingly, McCrary says her sister showed remarkable resolve and strength that “shocked me.”

 “At the time my sister was five and she was literally so strong,” says McCrary, who majors in English with a minor in political science. “She is what kept me together, and helped me get through a lot of things. Seeing her, I realized I had to be the role model, and I had to raise her. She looks to me now. Everything I do is to show her that if I can do it, she can do it too.”

Kayla McCrary says her dream is to become a renowned author, philosopher, attorney and humanitarian. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

Unlike McCrary, who struggles in math and does well in reading, her sister is the opposite. That parallel, she says, is one of the main inspirations behind “Dream Girl, Dream!”

“For me, growing up, I struggled in math. Reading and language arts were my strongest subjects. For her, she excels in math, but she doesn’t do too well in reading. I think it is mainly because she just doesn’t like reading. So, I figure if I wrote a book, she would be inspired to want to read it. And she has read it and does have copies of it. Her reading has improved. Reading the book I think has inspired her. She told our dad – Reginald Christian – the other day, ‘It’s not fair, sister gets to have a book and a YouTube channel.’ So, I am definitely teaching her how to go after everything she wants. I think she is getting it.,” says McCrary.

With a goal of pursuing graduate studies or entering law school after college, McCrary says in addition to her sister, the book is about inspiring children, “especially children of color, …and about the HBCU experience.” Her aspiration is to be a world-renowned author, philosopher, attorney and humanitarian.

“Dream Girl, Dream!” is mainly a story of inspiration,” she says. “Sometimes in life you go through things that are just not expected, and a lot of things are out of your control. So I want them to know, ‘No matter what your current circumstances are, dream as big as you want to. If your dreams don’t scare you then they are not big enough.’ To some people, writing a children’s book may not seem like a big thing, but for me, it’s everything because I can’t believe I actually did it.”

Angelique Wells, a junior psychology major at TSU, who has faced some difficulties of her own, has read McCrary’s book.

“It is definitely a great read and inspiring,” says Wells, of Nashville, who has known McCrary since entering TSU. “Throughout Kayla’s hardship she still persevered and continued to go on and become president of the SGA and stay active in her college career. That is an inspiration to me because without knowing, she has inspired me to go after a few things. It is a great book. I recommend it to all ages.”

For Van Leer, a TSU graduate and local artist who did the illustration for “Dream Girl, Dream,” working with McCrary was a “professional fulfillment.”

“Kayla approached me after school got out. I had never done a project like this before, but knowing me, I was not good at saying no,” says. Van Leer, known for painting likenesses of individuals like the late world-renowned heart surgeon Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr., and civil rights leader Jesse Jackson.

“I just wanted to take on the project because I love Kayla’s story,” he says. “I love what she was doing. We are both African-Americans, we are both at the same institution (at the time) and we are just doing something positive for the community. Her story was great, and it was a children’s book. You don’t really see that many African-Americans working together. The story was touching and I was just honored by it.”

“Dream Girl Dream!” is available in paperback on Amazon and Google Books.

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 7,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.