Category Archives: FACULTY

TSU establishes Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. Memorial Institute in honor of trailblazer and alumnus

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is using a half million dollar gift from the family of the late Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. to establish an endowed scholarship fund in honor of the TSU alumnus and renowned heart surgeon.

Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr.

The Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. Endowed Scholarship Fund will provide financial assistance to pre-med majors at the institution based on high scholastic achievement. In conjunction with the scholarship fund, TSU will establish the Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. Memorial Institute. The initiative is made up of three components: the Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. Society, the Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. Pre-Med Society and the Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. Lecture Series.

“We are extremely grateful to the family of Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. for this tremendous gift to further the legacy of such a brilliant individual, and TSU alumnus,” said Tennessee State University President Glenda Glover.

“The Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. Endowed Scholarship and institute are incredible programs to have housed at our university and will add another caveat to our stellar STEM programs. Most importantly, it continues the work of Dr. Watkins of inspiring students to pursue their dreams in the medical profession and to give back to others.”

The Society is a student organization for STEM majors who are high academic achievers and Presidential Scholars. The Pre-Med Society is for students who are high achievers interested in attending medical school.

Both organizations include periodic seminars, service as research assistants, a living learning community on campus, and training for personal health and wellness.

The Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. Lecture Series will be annually and will invite prominent speakers to TSU to address areas in health care and STEM. The focus will be on preparing students for the medical program and is slated to begin this fall.

Watkins is carried on the shoulders of well-wishers following his victory as the new Student Council President. (courtesy photo)

Dr. Levi Watkins enrolled at Tennessee State University where he excelled as a student. Watkins studied biology but was also heavily involved in campus life. He was listed in the Who’s Who in American Universities and Colleges, president of the Student Council (1965-1966), and received the title of “Mr. Brains” by the yearbook staff in 1966. Levi was a member of the Nashville Collegiate Exchange Council, National Vice President of Alpha Kappa Mu Honor Society, a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, and the University Counselors. He graduated in 1966 with honors.

After leaving Tennessee State, Watkins became the first African American student to be admitted to and graduate from the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. Following Vanderbilt, Levi began his residency at John Hopkins Hospital. He would go on to become the first black chief resident of cardiac surgery.

Watkins was a pioneer in both cardiac surgery and civil rights at Hopkins. He was the first doctor to implant an automatic heart defibrillator in a patient, a medical procedure that is now more common place. It is because of his vision and innovation this medical breakthrough has been responsible for saving the lives of millions worldwide.

He performed this groundbreaking procedure while he was also fighting to diversify the medical staff and student ranks at Hopkins. His legacy of recruiting and mentoring minority students helped to change the landscape of the medical profession. Watkins retired from Hopkins in 2013, dedicating 43 years of service to helping others.

Dr. Watkins became ill while doing what he loved most, inspiring prospective medical students at Hopkins, and died on April 11, 2015. Watkins will be remembered not only for his transformative achievements, but also for the deep personal connections he made with people from all walks of life.

The University held a memorial service with the campus family and Nashville community to celebrate his life of outstanding achievement and service.

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 8,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 25 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU honors alumnus and Waffle House hero James Shaw, Jr. with scholarship, Special Presidential Recognition

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University has set up a scholarship in the name of alumnus James Shaw, Jr., who has received national acclaim after disarming a Waffle House shooter last month.

The announcement was made during a reception held in Shaw’s honor at the university Monday evening. The event was highlighted on “Good Morning America.”

James Shaw, Jr. and TSU President Glenda Glover

TSU’s Farrell-Westbrook Building was filled to capacity as the Nashville community, state and local elected officials, as well as TSU students, faculty and staff joined the University for the Special Event. TSU President Glenda Glover welcomed the crowd and led a program consisting of area businesses and civic groups paying homage and giving awards to Shaw for his heroism.

“The TSU family is extremely proud of alumnus James Shaw, Jr. for his bravery and courage,” Glover said before the ceremony.  “James epitomizes the core values and mission of our institution, which is think, work and serve. His genuine concern for the well-being of others is a tribute to his parents, who are also TSU alumni.”

Presentations were made by Joni McReynolds, president of the TSU National Alumni Association; Marie Sueing, vice president of Multi-Cultural Community Relations with the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corporation; Carolyn Waller, president of the Nashville Black Chamber of Commerce; Attorney Mary H. Beard with the Nashville Napier-Looby Bar Association; and LaDonna Boyd, CEO of Boyd Publishing Company, along with Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., of which Shaw is a member.

Shaw and his family beamed with pride following each recognition, and were equally surprised and moved about the scholarship in his name. Attending with him were his parents James, Sr. and Karen Shaw, grandmother Mary Louise Edwards, sisters Brina’ and Brittni, cousin Mari Ashley and four-year-old daughter Brooklyn, and her mother Jalicia Collins.

James Shaw, Jr., being pinned by Dr. Jamie Riley, TSU alumnus and executive director of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. (photo by Courtney Buggs, TSU Media Relations)

Nearly $15,000 was collected just moments after the university made the scholarship donation information public. This included $11,000 from his fraternity. Numerous members of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. were on hand for the celebration of their fraternity brother. The fraternity’s Executive Director Dr. Jamie Riley, also a TSU alumnus and from the university’s Beta Omicron chapter as Shaw, made a special presentation.

Dr. Riley lauded Shaw for his bravery and presented him with a lifetime membership.

“Your example challenges me and others to be our best even in the most uncomfortable circumstances,” said Riley.

Dr. Everett B. Ward, general president of Alpha Phi Alpha, shared a similar sentiment in a statement.

“The well-being and viability of our communities has often been predicated on the willingness of strong men to put themselves in harm’s way,” said Ward. “In like manner, the men of Alpha Phil Alpha Fraternity, Inc., have established a legacy of service and sacrifice to serve the greater good that was continued by our brother James Shaw, Jr., whose actions prevented further loss of life.”

TSU President Glenda Glover, alumnus James Shaw, Jr., and Joni McReynolds, president of the TSU National Alumni Association

Four people were killed and several others wounded during the April 22 incident at a Waffle House in the Nashville suburb of Antioch. Authorities have said there would have probably been more casualties had it not been for Shaw’s actions.

The 29-year-old wrested a rifle away from the gunman and tossed it over the counter before shoving the shooter out the door.

State Rep. Brenda Gilmore, a TSU alumnae, along with State Sen. Jeff Yarbro shared special remarks at the event and applauded the Nashville native for springing into action.

Shaw has been humble about his actions, saying he’s really not a hero. And he reiterated that on Monday.

“Like I said, I was just trying to save myself. I did this with no recognition,” said Shaw. ”But it seems like it inspired so many people throughout the world. For that, I am greatly, greatly appreciative. To all of you, thank you.”

During the event, President Glenda Glover also announced that Shaw will receive a Special Presidential Recognition at Tennessee State’s homecoming in October.

Donations to the James Shaw, Jr. Scholarship Fund can be paid through the link below or by mail. Please send to: The James Shaw, Jr. Scholarship Fund at Tennessee State University, Tennessee State University Foundation, 3500 John A. Merritt Blvd. Box 9542, Nashville, TN   37209

https://epay.tnstate.edu/C20204_ustores/web/classic/product_detail.jsp?PRODUCTID=415&SINGLESTORE=true

Watch and read GMA and ABCNews’ coverage at https://abcnews.go.com/US/alma-mater-waffle-house-hero-establishes-scholarship/story?id=55013512

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 8,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 25 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

Tennessee State University Congratulates Its Spring 2018 graduates

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Congratulations to Tennessee State University’s Spring 2018 graduates.

More than 1,000 students walked across the aisle at two separate Tennessee State University commencement ceremonies to receive their degrees in different disciplines. Both ceremonies took place in the Gentry Complex on the main campus.

TSU President Glenda Glover congratulated the graduates and parents for their achievement.

“This is your day,” Glover told the graduates. “We thank you, and we’re depending on you to continue the tradition of excellence.”

At the undergraduate commencement on Saturday, May 5, more than 800 graduates received their degrees after hearing from nationally recognized motivational speaker, Dr. Eric Thomas.

He told the graduates that each of them is born with greatness, but to achieve it requires work.

“Greatness is not free, it comes with a price tag,” said Thomas.

Among the graduates were the grandmother/granddaughter pair of Theresa Lyles, 68, and Zuri Lyles, 22, who received their bachelor’s degrees in sociology and health information management, respectively.

Also at the spring graduation, university officials posthumously presented degrees to the families of two students who died few months before they were to graduate. Bethany Morse, 34, a non-traditional student, died Feb. 2, 2018. Her bachelor’s degree was in social work. The other student, Denise McGarity Sampson, 22, died Nov. 27, 2017. She earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering.

On Friday, May 4, graduate students received their degrees after hearing inspiring words from Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, who gave the commencement address.

Bottoms, an Atlanta native who became the 60th mayor of Atlanta last December and only the second woman to be elected mayor in Atlanta’s history, told the graduates not to be afraid to share their struggles, their “scars,” because they don’t know who may be inspired by them – especially in the case of youth.

“As you enter this next season of life, think of those little boys and little girls who need to hear your stories, and be uplifted by your stories,” said Bottoms. “How you graduated from TSU, and how you got to the other side.“

Between its graduate commencement and its undergraduate commencement, TSU graduated more than 1,000 students. And officials say a “substantial number” have already gotten job or internship offers.

Among them is Emmanuel Gyang of Nashville, who received his bachelor’s degree in engineering. He is heading to Bank of America in Dallas as a systems engineer in the company’s data center.

“I feel blessed to be graduating with a job with a company like Bank of America,” he said. “I owe it to TSU for the preparation I received in the classroom and from TSU’s Career Development Center. They definitely honed me to be the person I am today. They taught me how to carry myself in a more professional manner.”

Recent data comparison shows that TSU is on an upward trajectory when it comes to job placement for new graduates.

Within three months of receiving their degrees, nearly 52 percent of students who graduated in December had received “some form of employment opportunities,” according to the Career Development Center. That’s just 6 percent shy of the national average of graduates who had jobs within six months of graduation, according to College Track, an online database that guides parents and students in college selection.

Last year, TSU received a $2 million career development grant from the United Negro College Fund. The money gave the Career Development Center staff the tools to prepare and ultimately help TSU students secure employment immediately upon graduation.

 

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 8,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 25 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

Motivational Speaker Tells Tennessee State University Graduates That Achieving Greatness Requires Work

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University’s spring undergraduate commencement speaker told graduates that each of them is born with greatness, but to achieve it requires work.

TSU President Glenda Glover presents a plaque to spring undergraduate commencement, Dr. Eric Thomas. (Photo by Courtney Buggs, TSU Media Relations)

“Greatness is not free, it comes with a price tag,” said nationally-recognized motivational speaker, Dr. Eric Thomas, as more than 800 graduates in different disciplines prepared to walk across the aisle to receive their degrees.

Among the graduates were the grandmother/granddaughter pair of Theresa Lyles, 68, and Zuri Lyles, 22, who received their bachelor’s degrees in sociology and health information management, respectively. Read their story at https://bit.ly/2I9rHon.

Also at the spring graduation, university officials posthumously presented degrees to the families of two students who died few months before they were to graduate. Bethany Morse, 34, a non-traditional student, died Feb. 2, 2018. Her bachelor’s degree was in social work. The other student, Denise McGarity Sampson, 22, died Nov. 27, 2017. She earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering.

Called the “Hip Hop Preacher” for his creative style and high-energy speeches, Thomas drove home his usual message on success that “when you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you’ll be successful.”

To Saturday’s graduates, Thomas said “work,” “think” and “service” are the greatest assets to achieving greatness.

President Glenda Glover posthumously presaents Denise McGarity Sampson’s degree to her family. McGarity, an engineering major, died Nov. 27, 2017. (Photo by Courtney Buggs, TSU Media Relations)

“To activate the greatness in you, it requires you to work to achieve your dream,” he said. “Some days you might not feel like getting up but your dream will make you get up. …it will push you. With your education, you have an opportunity of a lifetime. Surround yourself with people who believe in your dream.”

Prior to Thomas’ speech, TSU President Glenda Glover congratulated the graduates and parents for their achievement.

“This is your day,” said Glover. “We thank you, and we’re depending on you to continue the tradition of excellence.”

Ra’Shunda Hackett, who received her bachelor’s degree in biology, said Thomas reiterated the lessons she learned at TSU.

“TSU’s motto is ‘Think, Work and Serve.’ This university was a dream school, and I am not disappointed that I chose to come here,” said Hackett, of Birmingham, Alabama, who came to TSU on a Presidential Scholarship. “I am extremely excited and thankful to the many at TSU who helped me along the way.”

Hackett, who serves as an AmeriCorps member with Impact America, will intern with Cigna, a global health insurance service company.

Between its graduate commencement, which took place Friday, and its undergraduate commencement, TSU graduated more than 1,000 students. And officials say a “substantial number,” like Hackett, have already gotten job or internship offers.

Among them is Emmanuel Gyang of Nashville, who received his bachelor’s degree in engineering. He is heading to Bank of America in Dallas as a systems engineer in the company’s data center.

“I feel blessed to be graduating with a job with a company like Bank of America,” he said. “I owe it to TSU for the preparation I received in the classroom and from TSU’s Career Development Center. They definitely honed me to be the person I am today. They taught me how to carry myself in a more professional manner.”

Recent data comparison shows that TSU is on an upward trajectory when it comes to job placement for new graduates.

Within three months of receiving their degrees, nearly 52 percent of students who graduated in December had received “some form of employment opportunities,” according to the Career Development Center. That’s just 6 percent shy of the national average of graduates who had jobs within six months of graduation, according to College Track, an online database that guides parents and students in college selection.

Last year, TSU received a $2 million career development grant from the United Negro College Fund. The money gave the Career Development Center staff the tools to prepare and ultimately help TSU students secure employment immediately upon graduation.

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 8,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 25 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU moves Saturday commencement to Gentry Center, begins at 8 a.m.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University’s 2018 Undergraduate Spring Commencement Ceremony will be moved to the Howard C. Gentry Complex on Saturday because of rain, TSU officials say.

The commencement had been scheduled for Hale Stadium. But the National Weather Service is predicting rain showers on Saturday, so the ceremony will be at 8 a.m. in the Gentry Complex. Gentry has a seating capacity of 8,000, so overflow will be moved to Kean Hall. Families are asked to arrive approximately 45 minutes to an hour prior to the start of the ceremony. Once capacity is reached, guests will be directed to Kean Hall. Shuttles will be available to assist with relocating.

Nearly 1,000 undergraduate students are expected to walk across the stage and should arrive at 7:30 a.m.

General Parking will remain the same and be available in parking lots throughout the campus. Shuttle services will be provided to transport guests from parking lots to the Gentry Complex. The following areas are for general parking:

  • Lot J – Engineering parking lot
  • Lot K – Power Plant parking lot
  • Lot L – Tiger Bell and 37th
  • Lot P – Queen Washington parking lot

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 8,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 25 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

 

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms shares inspiring words with TSU graduate students at Spring Commencement Ceremony

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University graduate students received some inspiring words from Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, who spoke at TSU’s Spring Commencement Ceremony Friday evening.

2018 Spring graduate class. (photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

Before Bottoms’ address, TSU President Glenda Glover congratulated the graduates.

“This is your day,” said Glover. “We thank you, and we’re depending on you to continue the tradition of excellence.”

Bottoms, an Atlanta native who became the 60th mayor of Atlanta last December and only the second woman to be elected to that post in the city’s history, is also a highly accomplished lawyer and successful public servant who advocates for high quality public education, job opportunities and economic growth.

During her address, she told the graduates not to be afraid to share their struggles, their “scars,” because they don’t know who may be inspired by them – especially in the case of youth.

“As you enter this next season of life, think of those little boys and little girls who need to hear your stories, and be uplifted by your stories,” said Bottoms. “How you graduated from TSU, and how you got to the other side.“

Alongside her public service career, Bottoms has maintained a private law practice for more than 20 years, and has served as general counsel for a multi-million dollar business, as well as a Judge (Pro Hoc) in Fulton County State Court.

She told the graduates that their achievement of a higher education will better equip them to be successful.

“The world is waiting on you to make a difference,” said Bottoms. “Walk in your purpose; the best is yet to come.”

Mercedes Hence, who received her master’s in criminal justice Friday, took Bottoms’ words to heart. She said the mayor’s accomplishments are inspiring, especially because she’s an African American woman.

“The fact that she is the mayor of Atlanta, that’s just empowering, inspiring,” said Hence, who has a job lined up with AmeriCorps where she will be assisting with public health research.

2018 Spring graduates make entrance. (photo by Lucas Johnson, TSU Media Relations)

Between its graduate commencement and the undergraduate ceremony scheduled for Saturday, May 5, TSU will graduate more than 1,000 students. And officials say a “substantial number,” like Hence, have already gotten job or internship offers.

Among them is Jonathan Robertson, who received a master’s degree in nursing on Friday. He got his bachelor’s in nursing at TSU, and said he liked the university so much that he decided to continue his education at Tennessee State.

“It provided great experiences, and great practicum opportunities,” said Robertson, who will be working as an interventional pain specialist in his hometown of Bowling Green, Kentucky.

Recent data comparison shows that TSU is on an upward trajectory when it comes to job placement for new graduates.

Within three months of receiving their degrees, nearly 52 percent of students who graduated in December had received “some form of employment opportunities,” according to the TSU Career Development Center. That’s just 6 percent shy of the national average of graduates who had jobs within six months of graduation, according to College Track, an online database that guides parents and students in college selection.

Dr. Tracey Ford, TSU’s vice-president for Student Affairs, attributed part of TSU’s success to the “outstanding job performance” of former students who are employed with companies around the nation and the world.

“Our students who have become great employees at these world-renowned companies are making such an impact that it causes the employers to want to continue to recruit at Tennessee State University,” said Ford.

Last year, TSU received a $2 million career development grant from the United Negro College Fund. The money gave Career Development Center staff the tools to prepare and ultimately help TSU students secure employment immediately upon graduation.

In addition, Hence said TSU faculty, in particular, went out of their way to provide guidance and support.

“From the lowest point to the highest point, they were there to guide me,” she said. “Just life lessons in general.”

 

NOTE: TSU’s Undergraduate Commencement Ceremony on Saturday will be in the Howard C. Gentry Complex instead of Hale Stadium, and it will start at 8 a.m. Gentry has a seating capacity of 8,000; guest overflow will be moved to Kean Hall. Families are asked to arrive approximately 45 minutes to an hour prior to the start of the ceremony at the selected location. Once capacity is reached, guests will be directed to Kean Hall. Shuttles will be available to assist with relocating.

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 8,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 25 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

 

Grandmother, Granddaughter graduate from Tennessee State University

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Although born more than 40 years apart, Theresa Lyles and her granddaughter Zuri Lyles were part of the same graduating class at Tennessee State University.

Theresa, 68, and Zuri, 22, walked across the stage to accept their degrees, when TSU held its spring undergraduate commencement in the Howard C. Gentry Complex on May 5. Theresa’s degree is in sociology, while Zuri received a bachelor’s degree in health information management and a minor in business.

Theresa Lyles, left, and Zuri Lyles may be the first grandmother/granddaughter graduating pair in TSU’s more than 100-year history. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

“I never contemplated this,” Theresa said when asked about she and her granddaughter graduating at the same time. “Who new that when I started back then that I would be graduating at the same time as she did. Nobody but God.”

Theresa, a grandmother of 15, started at TSU in 1967, but dropped out in 1970 to raise her family. A little over a year ago, she came back to school without knowing she earned enough credits back then to put her close to graduating, until her academic advisers told her. But a few months into her schooling, alongside Zuri, tragedy hit the family. Theresa lost her middle daughter, Zuri’s mother, on January 6.

“That hit us so hard that I almost dropped out because I was struggling and my grandmother went through a depression,” said Zuri. “But we kept encouraging each other. Through it all, we started working harder and did everything we needed to get the job done.”

Zuri, who has a job offer with St. Thomas General as an information systems analyst, said she plans to attend graduate school and get a degree in physical therapy. For now, Theresa will continue to help with raising her grandchildren, but she is glad to finally get her degree.

“I always wanted to come back, but just never had the chance to do it,” she said. “I am glad I did, and it’s even better that I am doing it with my granddaughter. We encouraged each other. It was tough, but we had to tunnel through.”

Said Zuri: “It feels amazing and life-changing for both of us” to be graduating at the same time. 

This may just be the first time in TSU’s more than 100-year history that a grandmother and a granddaughter will be graduating at the same time.

Zuri is graduating with honors. Her ultimate goal is to start her own business.

 

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 8,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 25 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.


First-generation College Student Fulfills Parents’ Dream, Says Coming to TSU Was Best Choice

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Ever since Amber Hawkins started going to school, her parents have encouraged her to fulfill a dream they weren’t able to achieve: to graduate from college.

On May 5, Hawkins fulfilled her parents’ dream. She was among nearly 1,000 students who received degrees when TSU held its spring commencement at the Howard C. Gentry Complex. Hawkins graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science and a minor in English.

Amber Hawkins

The oldest of three, Hawkins is the first in her family to earn a college degree, and credits her parents and maternal grandmother, a schoolteacher for more than 35 years, for the motivation to succeed.

“My grandmother definitely inspired and motivated me about my education,” says Hawkins, a native of Memphis, Tennessee, who is graduating with honors. “Along with my parents, she constantly reminded me that school always comes first. And if anything comes before school, then it shouldn’t be in my life.”

For Hawkins, the journey has been more than about graduating from college. It’s been about pursuing excellence. And she says TSU has provided the environment to make her dream possible.

“Tennessee State University has been a phenomenal experience that allowed me to be the best I can be,” says Hawkins, an academic standout at Memphis’ White Station High School, who promised earlier in her academic career “never to settle for low grades” and to work hard to be the best at whatever she pursues.

At TSU, Hawkins graduated with a 4.0 grade point average, something she has maintained throughout her matriculation. She has received a full graduate assistantship to purse a master’s degree in higher education administration at William Patterson University.

“TSU has been a perfect fit for me since I first came on campus on a college tour. I felt welcomed, and that coming here I would be part of a family as opposed to being a number, and I have not been disappointed,” says Hawkins. “The HBCU experience has been very rewarding. I came here not know knowing what career path to follow, but with the care I received and participating in activities that enhance others’ life, I have definitely found an interest in working with students.”

Hawkins engaged in many campus activities, including a travel-abroad opportunity. She is a member of the Honors College, served on the disciplinary committee in the office of student conduct, worked in the Tiger Tutoring lab to help with student placement for faculty-peer tutoring, as well as worked with the university marching band as a support staff.

In her junior year, Hawkins won an opportunity to work with the United College Fund Career Path Initiative. In the same year, she traveled to Paris to study the works of renowned writers like James Baldwin and Richard Wright as part of her academic work.

Hawkins, whose ultimate goal is to become a college president, especially at an HBCU, said these activities, including working in the office of the vice president of student affairs as the chief student judicial officer for about three years, has spawned an interest to serve students.

“This career path makes me feel I am making a positive difference in someone’s life in inspiring other students and working with administrators in creating a conducive environment, so that students can thrive,” says Hawkins. “In doing that, I have come to the conclusion that being the VP for student affairs, preferably at an HBCU, would be the best means to achieve something I am very passionate about.”

As she leaves TSU, Hawkins is thankful to many she says made her journey possible through personal care, advising, mentoring and who “went the extra mile to make sure I was using my time wisely.”

“Professor (Kyle) Murray I will always remember,” says Hawkins. “He has been one of the most supportive faculty members that I have ever had the pleasure of meeting here at TSU. I can say that I would not have the drive, the dedication, and the confidence … as a student and be prepared to go out into the professional world without his support, advice, criticizing me, even when it hurts at times.”

Dr. Murray, academic advisor and instructor in the Department of Political Science, describes Hawkins as “ undoubtedly the best university student” he has ever worked with.

“From the day Amber arrived to our degree program, she has been driven and ambitious, but never in an egotistical way,” says Murray. “In sports, coaches often refer to apt players as very ‘coachable.’ I can easily say the same thing about Amber. Amber’s ambition was never to try and fit in to extracurricular organizations, but her sole focus, rather, was on developing her academic qualities in addition to contributing to this institution as a whole through direct service.”

For Hawkins, her goal is to develop a graduate research project around “HBCUs and What They Mean in the 21st Century.”

“Since I want to work at an HBCU, I felt like William Patterson has the appropriate spot for me to do that,” says Hawkins.

It’s students like Amber, and the class of 2018, that keep the legacy – think, work, serve – alive and thriving for TSU.

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 8,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 25 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

Morning showers could mean relocation of TSU Spring Commencement on May 5 to indoors

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University’s Undergraduate Spring Commencement Ceremony will be moved to the Howard C. Gentry Complex if it rains Saturday, TSU officials say.

Currently, the May 5 commencement is scheduled for Hale Stadium. But the National Weather Service is predicting rain showers on Saturday. If commencement is moved, the ceremony will start at 9 a.m. instead of 8 a.m. Gentry has a seating capacity of 8,000; guest overflow will be moved to Kean Hall. Hale, Gentry and Kean Hall will be set up for graduation. However, the weather will determine which venue is used. Families are asked to arrive approximately 45 minutes to an hour prior to the start of the ceremony at the selected location. Once capacity is reached, guests will be directed to Kean Hall. Shuttles will be available to assist with relocating.

Nearly 1,000 undergraduate students are expected to walk across the stage and should arrive at 7:30 a.m.

General Parking will remain the same and be available in parking lots throughout the campus. Shuttle services will be provided to transport guests from parking lots to the Gentry Complex. The following areas are for general parking:

  • Lot J – Engineering parking lot
  • Lot K – Power Plant parking lot
  • Lot L – Tiger Bell and 37th
  • Lot P – Queen Washington parking lot

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 8,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 25 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

Job Outlook Shows Great Promise for Tennessee State University Graduates

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – College graduates will soon hit the market with big dreams and high expectations, and Tennessee State University is helping to make them a reality.

Focused academic preparation, combined with job readiness training and career coaching are paying huge dividends for upcoming TSU graduates.

On May 4 and 5, the university will graduate more than 1,000 students at its dual spring commencements. Officials say a “substantial number” have already received job or internship offers.

Representatives from Kroger Regional Office talk to a TSU student, right, during a recent career fair on the TSU main campus. (Phto by TSU Career Development Center)

Among them is Emmanuel Gyang of Nashville. Upon his graduation on May 5, he will be heading to Bank of America in Dallas as a systems engineer in the company’s data center.

So will Justus Watson, who graduates with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural sciences with a biotechnology concentration. The Atlanta native will join Union Pacific in the marketing and sales department in Omaha, Nebraska.

And Kevin Scott, also of Nashville, who will receive a degree in electrical engineering. Scott has potential job offers waiting for him with Lockheed Martin and AMRDEC, or the Army Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center.

Recent data comparison shows that TSU is on an upward trajectory when it comes to job placement for new graduates.

Within three months of receiving their degrees, nearly 52 percent of students who graduated in December had received “some form of employment opportunities,” according to the TSU Career Development Center. That’s just 6 percent shy of the national average of graduates who had jobs within six months of graduation, according to College Track, an online database that guides parents and students in college selection.

What is driving these high numbers for TSU?

“It starts with leadership,” says Dr. Tracey Ford, TSU’s vice-president for Student Affairs. “Our president, Dr. Glenda Glover, has elevated the expectation of job placement for our graduates and has charged Student Affairs to be aggressive and innovative in our approach to recruiting employers and securing internships and permanent placement for our talented students.”

More than 130 vendors, including major employers and graduate school representatives, attended the Fall Career and Job Fair on campus last October. (Photo by TSU Career Development Center)

Ford also attributes TSU’s success to the “outstanding job performance” of former students who are employed with companies around the nation and the world.

“Our students who have become great employees at these world-renowned companies are making such an impact that it causes the employers to want to continue to recruit at Tennessee State University,” says Ford.

Last year, TSU received a $2 million career development grant from the United Negro College Fund. The money gave Career Development Center staff the tools to prepare and ultimately help TSU students secure employment immediately upon graduation.

Bethany Beaty, talent acquisition specialist at Enterprise Holdings, Inc., who has hired several TSU graduates over the years, says, “TSU students are very realistic and very ambitious.”

“They always have a drive, and always willing to start at the bottom and work their way up,” says Beaty.

Collectively, the success of Gyang, Watson and Scott and the many other upcoming graduates is a clear reflection of TSU’s “aggressive and innovative” approach to job skills readiness and placement, says Charles Jennings, director of the Career Development Center.

According to Jennings, relationships with employers have been a major factor for TSU’s success. For instance, a career fair in October – one of the largest in recent years – brought more than 130 companies on campus, “all looking to hire our students.” Among major companies at the fair were Apple, Microsoft, Ford Motor Company and Health Career Connections.

“I will have to say we are doing some outstanding work here at TSU in terms of our outreach with employers, not only within the Nashville area, but nationwide,” says Jennings.

Gyang, who interned with Bank of America last year, says he’s “anxiously” waiting for his July start date with the corporate giant.

“I feel blessed to be graduating with a job with a company like Bank of America,” he says. “I owe it to TSU for the preparation I received in the classroom and from the Career Development Center. They definitely honed me to be the person I am today. They taught me how to carry myself in a more professional manner.”

Watson and Scott share Gyang’s sentiments.

“I am pretty excited about this opportunity,” says Watson, the outgoing vice-president of the Student Government Association, who said an interaction at an Agriculture Future of America leadership conference helped him to land the job with Union Pacific.

“A lot of how TSU prepared me made that moment possible. Motivations from my advisors in the College of Agriculture, along with outstanding mentors, and participating in different organizations on campus were helpful. Without TSU, I know for sure I would not have been ready for this opportunity.”

For more information on the TSU Career Development Center, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/careers/

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 8,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 25 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.