Category Archives: FEATURED

TSU Nursing Graduates On The Front Line In The Fight Against COVID-19

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University nursing school graduates are among the thousands of healthcare workers around the country responding to the influx of patients needing medical care because of the COVID-19 pandemic. They’re conducting screenings, communicating to the families, and above all, caring for the critically ill.

TSU nursing graduate Akelah Earl is one of those on the front line. She is a registered nurse at the University of Chicago Medical Center and works 13 to14 hour shifts – sometimes for six nights straight. She specializes in labor and delivery. Since the outbreak, Earl has been caring for mothers in labor who test positive for COVID-19.

Nursing supervisor Meghan Lambert-Agnew

“It has been very difficult,” says the 2015 graduate of the TSU BSN program. “Due to this pandemic, they (mothers) are not allowed to have the support that they may normally have.” 

The Chicago native says adding to the difficulty is having to work with limited resources to meet the growing demand.

“Working with limited PPE (personal protective equipment) has been very hard but we’re getting through it,” Earl says. According to the Chicago Tribune, the city continues to report the highest rate of coronavirus cases and deaths in Illinois, with a number of healthcare workers among the victims.

Closer to home in rural Bolivar, Tennessee, Meghan Lambert-Agnew is the nursing supervisor at the Hardeman County Health Department.  The TSU School of Nursing graduate is responsible for conducting all COVID-19 screening and testing for the entire county. Lambert-Agnew echoes the same sentiments as Earl regarding limited supplies to fight this unprecedented medical crisis.

“My patients include those with  private doctors that can’t afford to pay for the test, coupled with those we see on public assistance, and it puts a strain on supplies when we don’t have enough to meet the demands,” says the Tennessee native.

“There is no turning anyone away. Once you run out of testing or screening supplies, who knows when you will get more.  My commitment is to provide the best care and education awareness to the people I see every day despite my working circumstances.”

Donned in a full length gown, face shield, N-95 respiratory mask, with a surgical mask on top of that and gloves, Lambert-Agnew adds she’s had to be resourceful going through this pandemic and that TSU prepared her with the skills to deal with the challenges.

Dr. Maria Revell, interim executive director of the TSU School of Nursing says students are educated to function in a world of change.

“They are equipped to exhibit compassion in the face of adversity while administering safe patient-centered care,” says Dr. Revell.   

“As we endure the most unprecedented time in the lives of many, our graduates meet the challenge to administer physiological and psychological care and comfort.”

The university is currently accepting application for the fall into the traditional BSN program. Program Director Dr. Pinky Noble-Britton says the TSU School of Nursing has a rich tradition of producing nurses who adapt seamlessly into the nursing workforce and are true life-long learners. 

“Our program provides essential classroom and clinical experiences that equip our nursing students to care for a diverse clientele and collaborate with all members of the health care team,” states Dr. Noble-Britton.

At Atlanta’s Grady Memorial Hospital, a key intake center for the growing coronavirus spread in Georgia, Ashlee N. Everette, another graduate of the TSU BNS program, is on the front line. She is a charge nurse in the NICU, or newborn intensive care unit at Grady. She says coping with changes in regulation in patient care since the pandemic has been the most difficult. As a supervisor, she wants to do more, but she’s limited.

“Because of the impact of COVID-19, we have terminated all visitation rights to parents, and we have to wear N-95 masks during patient care,” says Everett, an Atlanta native, who also graduated in 2015. 

“Parents are only allowed to see their infants through an iPhone FaceTime call. The father of the newborn is not allowed into the delivery room, and it pains me, but we have to do it to prevent the spread.”

As the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases accelerates in the United States, unsung heroes on the front lines of the health care response have found themselves in an unprecedented position.

“As a nurse, not being able to have control of situations, having to watch chaos spiral with no real guidance, understanding, and predictability is one of the hardest things for any nurse to cope with,” adds Everett.

Amy Oaks-Smith, an OB float nurse at St. Thomas Midtown Hospital in Nashville, is married with four children ages 1-13. Her husband, Carlos, a firefighter, is also an EMT, or emergency medical technician, who works 24-hour shifts. Amy works 12-hour shifts. But they find a way to balance work and family.

“Many times, when he is coming in, I am going out,” says Amy. “But our work is our passion, so we go out and make sure we are helping where we can.”

As a nurse in the NICU, Amy says she is not directly involved with COVID-19 work, but they must make sure everyone coming in her unit is properly screened, temperature checked, and adequately “gowned and gloved.”

“I am the nurse that takes care of babies when they are born – look them over to make sure they are OK and breathing and acting the way they should,” says Amy, also a member of the TSU Class of 2015.

All of these TSU graduate believe their success would not have been possible without the preparation they received from TSU.

“TSU made me well prepared to become a nurse,” says Earl, who is pursuing her master’s degree at Chamberlain University. “One thing each professor I encountered taught me was to be fearless and compassionate no matter what I am facing.”

Everett adds, “When we took our oaths and were pinned as nurses in 2015, we would have never predicted this pandemic and its impact in healthcare. But TSU prepared me well and I am grateful.”

Oaks-Smith agrees.

“At TSU, our clinicals really set us up for success.”

Dr. Revell adds, “The BSN program at TSU is one steeped in tradition and pride. We provide a connection to various cultures and offer a diverse student experience. We facilitate acquisition of the skillset and education needed for success in the nursing profession.” 

For information on the TSU School of Nursing, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/nursing/

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State UniversityFounded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU Thanks Healthcare Workers On the Frontlines Fighting COVID-19, Highlights National Nurses Week

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University recently showed its appreciation for frontline workers in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic by gifting more than 2,500 potted African Violet plants to healthcare workers at several hospitals, clinics and other facilities in the Nashville metro area.

Each healthcare worker received an African Violet plant with a note thanking them for their effort on the frontline. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

Representing TSU President Glenda Glover, the Dean of the College of Agriculture, Dr. Chandra Reddy, led a group of university officials and staff to deliver the plants to doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers at Ascension Saint Thomas West, Select Specialty Hospital, Nashville General Hospital, Matthew Walker Comprehensive Health Clinic, and Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

The act of kindness was in recognition of National Nurses Week, May 6-12.

Each plant, decorated in a see-through shimmering plastic wrap, carried an inscription that said, “Thank you for being on the frontline for all of us.” They were donated through a partnership with Optimara, a horticulture company in Nashville.

“We just want to say thank you to nurses, doctors, medical technicians, and other hospital workers for risking their lives to save COVID-19 patients and the community,” Reddy said, as dozens of nurses, each observing required social distance, lined up at the main entrance at St. Thomas Went to receive a plant.

Dr. Chandra Reddy, Dean of the College of Agriculture, talks to the media about TSU’s immense gratitude to the frontline workers in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

“The African violet plant we are gifting is just a symbol of freshness and hope going forward in our fight against this pandemic.”

Samantha Straton, Chief Nursing Officer at Ascension Saint Thomas West, who received the TSU representatives, thanked the university and said the hospital staff was grateful for the gift.

“This is really meaningful for our frontline caregivers who have been working so hard through the COVID-19 pandemic, and it happens to be Nurses Week,” Straton said. “This is a great way to express appreciation for the hard work of all our nurses and frontline caregivers. We really value our relationship with TSU. We often have clinical students here at Ascension Saint Thomas West as well as  some of our other facilities. It is a great partnership and we really just want to say thank you.”

The Director of the BSN program at TSU,  Dr. Pinky Noble-Britton, was among those representing the university. Like Straton, Noble-Britton highlighted the “outstanding” partnership TSU has with medical facilities in Nashville.

Samantha Straton, left, Chief Nursing Officer at Ascension Saint Thomas West, joins Dr. Reddy, and Reinhold Holtkamp, Sr., President of Optimara, to present plants to the staff of the hospital. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

“As a nurse and an educator, it’s heartwarming to see the community support, especially for the men and women on the frontlines providing care during this pandemic,” said Noble-Britton, who is also associate professor of nursing.

“We have a great nursing program and want to also thank St. Thomas West and all of the other hospitals and clinics, as well as Optimara for being such focused community partners with us.”

Reinhold Holtkamp, Sr., president of Optimara, said his company and TSU have had a long relationship in many areas.

“We have collaborated together for many years with the College of Agriculture, and they have given us a lot of support,” Holtkamp said. “So, when we had the opportunity to work together on this sign of friendship for our frontline workers together, we immediately ceased that moment.”

TSU is currently accepting applications for the traditional BSN program. For information on the program, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/nursing/bachelor.aspx

For information on the TSU 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 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, 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’s World-Renowned Aristocrat of Bands Names New Leaders as Group Prepares for 2021 Tournament of Roses

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – As the Tennessee State University Aristocrat of Bands prepares for its historic appearance in the Tournament of Roses in January, the marching band has announced a new lineup of drum majors.

Julien Dooley, the only returning drum major, will lead the “Fantastic 4” in 2020-2021. (Submitted photo)

The new “Fantastic 4,” as they are called, were announced at the AOB’s recent virtual banquet, which also recognized outgoing drum majors who are part of the 2020 TSU graduating class. Julian Dooley, a senior communications major from Decatur, Georgia, who will lead the new Fantastic 4, is the only returning member. Joining him are Justen Ramsey, rising junior, health science, from Atlanta; Travion  Crutcher, rising junior , mechanical engineering, from Huntsville, Alabama; and Cameron Brown, senior, mass communications major from Birmingham, Alabama.

Dr. Reginald McDonald, TSU’s director of bands, congratulated the new Fantastic 4, and paid special tribute to the outgoing members for their accomplishments and service to the university.

“I thank you for your love, service, hard work, dedication and loyalty to the Fantastic 4, the Aristocrat of Bands and Tennessee State University,” McDonald said. “Congratulations on your accomplishment in earning your degrees. We wish you the very best in all of your future endeavors.”

Justin Ramsey, Drum Major No. 2

 The outgoing drum majors, who will receive their bachelor’s degrees in various disciplines at the August 1 commencement ceremonies are Hassan Moody, from Decatur, Georgia, business administration; Cole Gilbert, from Jonesboro, Georgia, health science; and Xavier Ellis, from Stone Mountain, Georgia, criminal Justice.

At the virtual banquet, the AOB also announced captains for the Sophisticated Ladies, Royal Elegance, and section leaders for the instrumentalist.

In March, the world-renowned AOB received official invitation to participate in the 2021 Rose Bowl Parade on Jan. 1 in Pasadena, California. Dr. Robert B. Miller, president and chairman of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses, came to TSU to personally present the band with the official tournament flag and invitation.

Travion Crutcher, Drum Major No.3

The AOB will be one of only four university bands nationwide to participate in the parade, with a domestic television audience of more than 38 million.

“Only the best of the best are invited  and the Aristocrat of Bands is one of them,” Miller said in the Gentry Complex, amid thunderous cheers from university officials, relatives, former band members, and Mr. and Miss TSU and their royal court.

Cailyn Sparks, a member of the AOB Sophisticated Ladies Dance Line, called the Rose Bowl Parade invitation “an opportunity of a life time.”

“I am glad my mom and dad and maybe some other family members will be there,” said Sparks, a junior elementary education major from Phenix City, Alabama, who will be going to California for the first time. “I am extremely excited about going to the Rose Bowl and excited to be there with my family.”

Cameron Brown, Drum Major No. 4

McDonald added, “If you know anything about parades in this country, the Tournament of Roses Parade and the Macy’s Parade are numbers one and two,” he said. “To have either one of those parades on your performance as a portfolio, says a lot about your band program.”

In addition to the Tournament of Roses invitation, receiving the Best Band ranking, and a record ninth appearance at Honda Battle of the Bands Invitational, the AOB is enjoying a stellar year of achievements and accolades. In April 2019, during the NFL Draft in the Music City, the AOB were featured on the nationally syndicated ESPN sports talk show, First Take; the band received a shout out from pop star Lizzo for the band’s rendition of her “Truth Hurts” medley. In January 2019, percussionists from the band performed in the Rose Parade. They were also featured performers at the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons’ 2019 home opener.

For more information on the AOB, 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 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, 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.

Congratulations Class of 2020

Congratulations to the nearly 700 Tennessee State University undergraduates and graduates! Wishing you continued success as you showcase TSU’s Big Blue excellence to the world. Class of 2020: 

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, 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 committed to seeing students succeed during pandemic by providing laptops to those in need

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is making sure students have the digital devices they need to complete their coursework online as a result of COVID-19.

On March 16, TSU was the first public university in Tennessee to transition to all online classes because of the coronavirus. TSU officials checked with faculty to find out which students needed devices – like laptops and tablets – to be able to successfully work remotely.

Laptops arrive at TSU to be distributed to students. (Submitted photo).

“The impact of COVID-19 challenged us to reflect on student learning and the efforts of us all to maintain quality in the midst of a natural event,” said Dr. Alisa Mosley, interim vice president for academic affairs at TSU. “Faculty are grateful that we were able to provide these devices for use in their courses. We received requests from students in all majors and we addressed them.”

TSU freshman Nakailah Shields-Robinson said the laptop she received has been very useful. She said she wasn’t sure what she was going to do when her computer crashed.

“I have an iPad, but that’s not really good either,” said Shields-Robinson, a criminal justice major from St. Louis, Missouri. “So, when the laptop came, it’s been helping me write my papers. I have a five-page paper that’s coming up, and I probably wouldn’t have been able to do that on the iPad.”

Junior Joyvon Dickerson, a human performance and sports science major from Chicago, agreed.

“It’s kind of hard trying to write a five-page paper off your phone,” said Dickerson, who also received a laptop. “It’s nice to be at a school that cares about its students in this way.” 

Dr. Robbie Melton, TSU’s associate vice president for Smart Technology and Innovation, said once the devices were shipped, “we followed up to give them personalized tutoring on how to use the device.”  

“We had someone personally call them and walk them through, as well as help them with their online courses,” added Melton.

She said the university received donations to purchase more than 20 laptops and 20 tablets. One of the contributions was $25,000 from Fifth Third Bank.

 “To be competitive, both academically and for future work, they’ve got to have a digital device,” said Hosetta Coleman, senior vice president, university relations at Fifth Third Bank. “You look at our world, this whole virtual paradigm. If our communities are not ready for a digital environment, they have one more factor that makes them less competitive against others.”

Mosley said the university plans to “maintain this connection to technology in the future.”

“We moved to e-textbooks for general education in 2015 and we anticipate our work with open educational resources (OER) will increase,” said Mosley. “Our students will need devices as a part of the new landscape for their learning and careers.”

TSU has 23 distance education undergraduate and graduate programs and will offer most of the classes online this summer. Summer sessions are scheduled to begin in late May, early June. To learn more about the university’s online courses, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/online/.

For more on campus operations affected by the coronavirus, and student information, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/covid19.

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, 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 Food Distribution Brings Relief to Hundreds of Families in North Nashville

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service)- A drive-thru food distribution at Tennessee State University on Saturday offered relief to hundreds of residents in the Nashville metro area.

About 200 volunteers, wearing masks, gloves and maintaining the required social distance, showed up to help distribute food to about 500 families. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

Second Harvest Food Bank, along with TSU and One Generation Away, hosted the contact-free, mobile food pantry distribution outside the TSU indoor practice facility for anyone experiencing hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the aftermath of the March 3 tornado. No registration was required.

Organizers say TSU offered one of the best locations for the food distribution, as more than 500 families were served. Cars lined up from Walter S. Davis Boulevard onto the campus, and up to the Olympic statue. Drivers were directed to the indoor practice facility parking lot and exited on Schrader Lane.

“COVID-19 has caused a lot of challenges to various communities and we want to make sure that when and where TSU can, that we help the community during this pandemic,” said Dr. Curtis Johnson, TSU’s chief of staff. “Partnering with various entities in the community is one way to help with some of the challenges that we are facing. They had a need and TSU had a space that was best configured in a manner to best serve the need.”

TSU alum Sherrie McGuire, left, and her daughter, Makenzie McGuire, were among the volunteers who participated in the food distribution on Saturday. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

Chris Whitney, founder of One Generation Away, a Franklin, Tennessee-Based food ministry, said the ministry conducts about 40 food pantries in Tennessee a year at different locations, mainly in church parking lots.

“We are so grateful to TSU for allowing us to be here today,” Whitney said. “We were looking at somewhere off Clarksville Pike to serve the North Nashville community after the tornado but with the pandemic, we needed a larger parking lot and we thought TSU would be an ideal location.”

About 200 volunteers, wearing masks, gloves and maintaining the required social distance, showed up to arrange tables, unpack boxes, fill grocery bags, and load food into the trunks of cars, as each family drove up. Among the volunteers were Sherrie McGuire, a TSU alum, and her daughter, Makenzie McGuire.

“Service is one of the core values that TSU instilled in us, and that’s what we are doing here today,” said Sherrie, a teacher at Donaldson Christian Academy, who earned a bachelor’s degree in social work at TSU in 1995. Donaldson Christian Academy was damaged during the tornado, which destroyed several buildings on TSU’s agricultural farm. 

“It’s been a double whammy for my family,” added Sherrie. “We were hit with the tornado on March 3rd,  with a lot of damage then you add COVID-19 to it. A lot of people are hurting. So, I am glad to be back at my school to help serve.”

Sherrie’s daughter, Mackenzie, a senior at Donaldson Academy, who has been a volunteer with One Generation Away since she was about 6 years old, agreed.

“Suffering through the tornado and then the pandemic is just unimaginable,” said Makenzie, who wants to study nursing to become a neonatal nurse practitioner. “So, it is just good to get out and help in the community.”

Grant Winrow, special assistant to TSU President Glenda Glover, who helped to coordinate the distribution on the TSU campus, said it is a wonderful opportunity for the university to partner with “anyone in the community that’s trying to do something philanthropic” for the citizens of Nashville.

“We are just a family here at TSU,” he said. “So, I think it is an opportunity for us to open up our resources to be able to assist anyway we can.”

Winrow credits former Metro Councilman Lonnell Matthews Jr., a TSU alum, with also helping to coordinate the food distribution at TSU.

TSU also runs a food pantry for students facing temporary hardships. When campus is opened, donations to the Tiger Pantry can be dropped off at the Ralph H. Boston Wellness Center located next to the Gentry Center Monday – Friday from 7 a.m. –  5 p.m.

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, 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.CHERYL

TSU and Kroger lend helping hand to students remaining on campus

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – TSU students still living on campus who could use some extra help with food and snacks, recently got help from the university and Kroger, the nation’s second largest general retailer.

Melissa Eads, Corporate Affairs Manager for Kroger Nashville (Submitted Photo)

In a partnership with the Tiger Pantry at TSU, Kroger donated 60 $25-gift cards to the university for students who did not leave campus in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are tremendously excited about how community partners such as Kroger continue to show support for our students,” said Frank Stevenson, associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students.


“This donation will help some of our most vulnerable student population who have limited options. We will continue to seek out opportunities to help students navigate this very different learning environment.”

On March 16, TSU transitioned to online classes as a precaution to contracting COVID-19, and subsequently asked all students to go home. However, about 70 students who could not go home for various reasons, asked to stay on campus. These students continue to receive living resources from the university, including meals if they have a meal plan for the semester.

One of them is Sparrow Haynes, a senior, who is also a resident assistant. He said “it has been a struggle” to work and transition to online courses and deal with the pandemic at the same time.

“I would like to thank Kroger and TSU for this gift card during this time,” said Haynes, a health science major from Nashville. “This gift card will really help me to get some snacks and food so I can eat good while preparing to finish strong this semester.”

Melissa Eads, corporate affairs manager for Kroger Nashville, said her company is happy to partner with TSU to help students during this difficult time.

“Through our ‘Zero Hunger Zero Waste’ plan, we are focused on supporting efforts that provide food to those who may be struggling to make ends meet,” Eads said.   “We appreciate TSU and their work to meet the needs of their students.”

Iris Ramey, TSU’s associate vice president for corporate partnership and strategic initiative, said the university is grateful to Kroger for the gift cards during “this unprecedented time.”

“Kroger has always been a dedicated benefactor to Tennessee State University, and for this, we are very thankful,” Ramey said.

For more information on corporate partnerships and strategic initiatives, and how to secure philanthropic support to TSU, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/partnerships/

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, 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.CHERYL

TSU alumna Earnestine Dawson keeps things moving smoothly on Capitol Hill amid COVID-19 pandemic

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University President Glenda Glover and other alumni say they’re proud of the impact alumna Earnestine Dawson is making on Capitol Hill amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Earnestine Dawson poses for graduation shoot at TSU. (Submitted photo)

Dawson, a 2005 graduate of TSU, recently made national headlines when she was profiled by The New York Times. She is the House Democratic Caucus’ digital director, charged with convening and managing digital conferences on congressional activity and policy debate. 

However, because of the virtual Congress the Caucus has set up for members due to the coronavirus, Dawson’s direction has become even more important to lawmakers. 

“At a time of stress and uncertainty, I’m so proud to see a TSU alumna helping to calm the waters at our nation’s capital, and in such an important role,” says President Glover. “Our University motto is Think, Work, Serve, and Ms. Dawson epitomizes that and more, especially during this unprecedented time in our country’s history. Her responsibilities highlight the caliber of students Tennessee State and other HBCUs produce that go on to have a global impact.”

Since March 16, Dawson has moderated more than a dozen two-hour caucus calls, and facilitated over 300 questions from 235 lawmakers. Her cheery voice is a welcome sound to lawmakers as she directs them to do things like “press star three” to ask questions, and to unmute their phones when they have the floor to speak. 

Some lawmakers say her voice is a reminder of what it was like when there was just radio, others describe the calmness of her direction as the glue that holds them together in uncertain times.

Dawson, humbled by their comments and the national attention she’s received, says she’s just doing her job. 

“The work is more important than me as an individual,” says Dawson. “I help them know that everything is going to be OK. They are making some tough decisions for the American people.”

A native of Cleveland, Mississippi, Dawson dreamed of becoming the nation’s first black woman elected to Congress from Mississippi. While at TSU, she majored in speech communication with an emphasis in mass communication, and was active on campus. She was the Junior Class Representative on the Student Government Association, and also pledged Alpha Chi Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. Incorporated.  

Earnestine Dawson (far left) in National Broadcasting Society photo sophomore year at TSU. (Submitted photo)

Amaris L. Johnson joined the sorority the same time Dawson did in 2003. She says even back then, Dawson’s pleasant, cheery attitude stood out. 

“She had this signature tagline. Anytime she gave a report or her name, she would say, ‘Greetings and salutations, my name is Earnestine Elaine Dawson,’” recalls Johnson, adding that her sorority sister was also good at resolving issues. 

“When we were disconnected, she was always able to defuse the situation and bring a level of calmness. When I read the (New York Times) article, I saw the same thing. That’s her.” 

Alum Charles Galbreath agrees.

“What’s so funny about the article, that was her spirit then,” says Galbreath, a former Mr. TSU who interacted with Dawson at the SGA. “Just a good energy. When she walked in a room, her positivity and her attitude walked in with her.”

Joni McReynolds, president of the TSU National Alumni Association, says the attention Dawson is receiving makes her proud. 

“I often say, TSU prepares our alumni to go anywhere and handle the most difficult situations,” says McReynolds. “She is a prime example of this.”

Dawson acknowledges TSU helped make her the person she is today. 

“TSU was my growing up moment,” she says. “I walked away from TSU being much stronger than I came in, and I’m really appreciative of that.”   

To read The New York Times profile on Dawson, visit https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/08/us/politics/democrats-coronavirus-earnestine.html.

NOTE: Featured photo by James Marrow

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, 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.CHERYL

TSU faculty, students use online classes to continue teaching and learning amid COVID-19 pandemic

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Treveon Hayes is not letting anything stop him from completing his course work and ultimately getting his college degree – not even the coronavirus. 

Treveon Hayes. (Submitted photo)

The Tennessee State University freshman is among countless students at higher education institutions across the country who have transitioned to online learning as a precaution to contracting COVID-19. 

“It’s been an adjustment, but I have goals, and I can’t let anything stop me from reaching them,” says Hayes, an elementary education major from Memphis, Tennessee. 

Earlier this month, TSU President Glenda Glover and other university administrators held a live meeting via Zoom with over 200 student leaders to assure them that TSU is dedicated to accommodating them while they finish the semester remotely as a result of the virus. 

“We are going to do everything humanly possible to accommodate you to ensure that you succeed in spite of this very daunting challenge,” said Dr. Glover. “It is tough for everyone across the world as we face the daily uncertainties and dangers that this virus presents. We’re going to do whatever we can to ensure that you remain whole.”

TSU students say they appreciate the effort of university faculty and staff, but they acknowledge the distance learning has been challenging because of the absence of things like face to face interaction with their instructors. 

“We were able to go to their office, now it’s mainly emails,” says Rekha Berry, a senior from Mobile, Alabama, majoring in history and political science. “I definitely miss the face to face with instructors.”

Music education major Jakori Hollinger practicing at home. (Submitted photo)

Nevertheless, they are finding ways to adjust. For Hayes, who has two to four classes a day, he practices better time management.

“After class, I give myself about five minutes to use the restroom, grab a snack, then get right back to class,” adds Hayes. “I have to time manage myself. The work has to be done. No excuses.”

Jakori Hollinger, a music education major from Montgomery, Alabama, says the lack of in-person instruction has caused him to do more reading and research in order to understand certain concepts.

“Whereas, if I was sitting in front of them, they could just show me how to do it,” says Hollinger, “I could just pick it up and it would be no issue.”

However, despite the circumstances, he lauded TSU’s faculty and staff for “working with students to make this transition as easy as possible.”

On March 16, TSU was the first public university in Tennessee to transition to all online classes as a result of COVID-19.

Dr. Robbie Melton, interim dean of Graduate and Professional Studies at TSU, says prior to the coronavirus the university was exploring several types of online options for students. 

“We were already positioned to transition online when the coronavirus hit, which is why it only took us less than a week for a full transition,” says Melton. “We had the software and the tools and the training. And we had faculty training every day, including weekends, to assist the faculty in this new norm.”

Dr. Cheryl Seay is executive director of TSU’s Global Online and the lead person in helping TSU’s faculty transition to online instruction. She says sessions are held seven days a week via Zoom to address faculty questions or concerns, and she’s pleased with the participation and adjustment. 

Speech pathology grad student Jordan Robinson prepares to use a clinical simulation. (Submitted photo)

“The faculty have really stepped up to the plate,” says Seay. “They are doing everything they can to embrace this. I’m just really proud of our faculty.”

Dr. Tina Smith, chair of TSU’s Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology, set up the first distance education program for the state of Tennessee in the area of speech pathology when she came to TSU in 2005. As a result, Smith says her students have had an easier time adjusting to remote learning. The biggest change she’s had to make involves the clinical component. 

“I now use clinical simulation, virtual patients,” says Smith. “Real clients, but online. We’re also using Zoom to do telehealth with our clients. That’s the new frontier for speech pathology.”

Dr. Learotha Williams, an associate professor of history at TSU, says he realizes these are difficult times for everyone, which is why he checks on the well-being of his students at the beginning of each online class. 

“I ask how each of them are doing, and what I can do to assist,” says Williams. “I also ask them to write a journal entry about how the coronavirus is impacting their lives where they live. It allows them to put their feelings on paper. And as a historian, it’s given me a wide gaze of what students are going through during this period.”

Like many students, Dr. Robert Elliott, chair of TSU’s Music Department, says he too misses the face-to-face interaction. He described the challenge of trying to virtually help a student who was playing Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell’s “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” on his bass guitar. 

“I’ve got my instrument (bass guitar) in my living room, and he’s got his instrument in his living room,” says Elliott. “He told me at one point, ‘Doc, I can’t wait until we’re back in your office.’ I said me too.” 

TSU has 23 distance education undergraduate and graduate programs and will offer most of the classes online this summer. Summer sessions are scheduled to begin in late May, early June. To learn more, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/aeao/.

For more on campus operations affected by the coronavirus, and student information, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/covid19.

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, 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.

Bright Lights of Hollywood on (the) Horizon For TSU Sophomore As Actor, Filmmaker

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – When it came time for Robert Spicer to select a university after high school,  he had only one place in mind, The Land of Golden Sunshine. Former students had already flooded the young Chicagoan’s mind with words of how wonderful it is to be a Tiger.

Robert Spicer

“To get me ready, I spoke to several people who were alums of TSU; all spoke so highly of their experiences,” says Spicer, a sophomore mass communication major at TSU. “I would hear statements like, ‘There is no other university like TSU’ and ‘TSU will change your life.’”

True to what he heard, Spicer says his life has really changed in the less than two years he has been at TSU. He says the university offers a sense of “community and family,” with everyone trying to “lend a hand and help you.”

“This is a wonderful place. From the professors to the administrators and students, this place is family. I am very much at home here, and I have no regrets for coming here,” he says.

A film and television enthusiast, Spicer has received many opportunities at TSU to connect with top artists and individuals in the film industry. In October, filmmaker Deon Taylor – known for movies like “Black and Blue,” “The Intruder,” “Meet the Blacks,” and “Traffik” – came to TSU and taught a master class to students as part of the International Black Film Festival.

In high school, Spicer was an academic standout at Chicago’s Mount Carmel High School, where he performed in many theater productions. He believes his fast-learning ability and commitment to be the best will help him succeed at TSU. And, he’s already on his way.

With a near 3.7 grade point average, Spicer has remained on the Dean’s List since arriving at TSU. He is a member of the Honors College, and the National Society of Leadership and Success, the nation’s largest leadership honor society.

Professors and advisors say Spicer demonstrates outstanding leadership, and takes on every task he is given with a great work ethic and a desire to learn.

“Robert is an amazing young man that I have had the pleasure of knowing since he arrived on campus,” says Karen Russell, assistant professor in the College of Liberal Arts and advisor to Spicer.

“In just his short time here, he has proven to be not only a leader in the classroom but a leader among his peers.  There are many great things in store for this young man,” adds Russell.

As he completes his sophomore year, Spicer says he plans to delve more into his major, with the hope of securing internships with major production companies. His goal is to make it big in acting and film production. The first in his family to attend a historically black university, Spicer says the experience gives him an edge in his future career.

“Although many from my family have obtained college degrees, I would be the first to attend and complete an education at an HBCU,” says Spicer. “I am truly grateful for my time and experiences at TSU.  It has and will continue to shape who I am as a person.”

For more information on the Mass Communications program at TSU, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/Communications/mass_communication.aspx

Department of Media Relations

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

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.