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From College Drop Out to Medical School Acceptance, Life is full of Second Chances for TSU Graduate

Johnathan Fitzgerald
Johnathan Fitzgerald

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Life is about second chances. Just ask Johnathan Fitzgerald.

The soon-to-be Tennessee State University graduate has gone from college dropout to graduating with top honors as a biology major. He has already been conditionally accepted to medical school and will start in the fall of 2015.

But Fitzgerald readily admits, his journey was not always easy, and eventually found out what he was looking for was already in his own back yard.

Along the way, he attended numerous colleges, started a career and family, and ultimately dropped out of school to adopt his two-week old niece to raise as his own daughter.

“I knew I had the potential to do something great with my life,” Fitzgerald said. “My educational journey has truly been a long and arduous journey.”

The journey started in 1996 at McGavock High School for the Nashville native. He graduated with honors and was ranked in the top 11 percent of his class, while his senior class voted him “Most Likely to Succeed.”

“My goal was to go to college to become a physician and follow in the footsteps of my uncle,” said the 36 year-old Fitzgerald. “It has been a dream of mine from a very early age. I always wanted to specialize in internal medicine.”

The first leg of his journey took him to Atlanta where he attended Morehouse College and majored in pre-med. He lasted a year because he was not prepared for life so far away from home.

“I had no role model for what it took to go through pre-med classes or college life,” Fitzgerald added. “I returned home because I just didn’t have the support system I needed in Atlanta.”

His next stop was Volunteer State Community College, where he took general education classes, then transferred to Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tenn. Instead of pre-med, he changed his major to music.

“I always loved music and was a musician in high school,” he said. “I played viola and was in the band, so I thought I could pursue a career in music.”

But he quickly found out that working full-time and going to school was not easy. After a series of life-changing events, he eventually dropped out of school to adopt his two-week old niece, leaving a 1.9 grade point average in his wake.

“It was not a hard decision to make to drop out of school to take care of my daughter and my family,” he said. “She needed me and, at that point, my family came first.”

For seven years, Fitzgerald continued to raise his family, adding two more children along the way, and concentrating on his business career. But there was always a “monkey on his back” nagging at him to go back to school.

In 2009, dressed in his best suit, he made the drive to Tennessee State University, a university that was right in his backyard, and one he never really considered.

“While I was growing up my father would bring me to the football games and I remember singing, ‘I’m so glad,’ and watching the band perform,” Fitzgerald said. “But I heard negative things so I didn’t give TSU a good look.”

But that first walk through the doors, he said, was like a second chance at pursuing the dream of becoming a doctor. Giving it the “old college try,” he walked into Dr. Lois Harlston’s office and told her he wanted to give his dream another shot.

Harlston, chair of the Pre-Professional Students in Health Services, helped Fitzgerald get into the dual Bachelor of Science/Doctor of Medicine (BS/MD) fast-track program with Meharry Medical College. The program prepares students to go to medical school by allowing them to study three years at TSU then enter Meharry as a first-year student. Fitzgerald was one of five students to be admitted into the program that year.

“He was very serious and had his entire education mapped out,” Harlston said. “He told me about his life struggles, but also told me he would do whatever he needed to accomplish his goals. Jonathan has far exceeded my expectations and has performed at the top-tier level.”

During his four years, Fitzgerald’s hard work has paid off. He has been named to the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, been the recipient of three TSU scholarships and, most recently, been named the Outstanding Undergraduate Student in Biology by the College of Agriculture, Human and Natural Sciences. He is also graduating with a 3.907 GPA.

It has been a very long journey for Fitzgerald to realize his educational dream and will graduate with nearly 1,000 other candidates Saturday, May 10. He is also keeping a promise he made to his mother who passed away in 2012.

“Before she died, I promised her that I would press on and become the doctor that she and my father always knew I could become,” he said. “I know she will be smiling down on me when I finally receive my diploma. All it took was a second chance, and TSU was willing to give that to me.”

 

 

READ more student success stories including:

Annette Scruggs
Karen Munoz

 

 

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

 

About Tennessee State University

With nearly 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU Top Graduating Senior Selected to Introduce Gov. Haslam as Commencement Keynote Speaker

Annette Scruggs
Annette Scruggs

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – When Annette Scruggs arrived in Nashville nine years ago from Georgetown, Guyana, it was a “no-brainer” when she decided to continue her education. Tennessee State University was the only university she applied to because she knew it was where she wanted to be.

“When I married my husband, I witnessed first-hand the influence the university had on his family,” said Scruggs. “He came from a long line of alumni from his mother, grandmother and great aunts. Because of that, I knew TSU was where I needed to be.”

When she first started her goal was to complete her degree, not be the best of the best, but simply do her best.

Four years later, Scruggs is the best, graduating with the highest grade point average of all the undergraduates at Spring Commencement. Because of her 3.942 GPA, a number she can readily quote, she will have the opportunity to introduce the keynote speaker, Governor Bill Haslam.

“My first thought was, ‘WOW!’ when they told me,” said the Interdisciplinary Studies major. “It is going to be quite the honor.”

Scruggs Family-5
Annette Scruggs, second from left, is surrounded by her family, (left to right) Osafa Hippolyte, Ashley Hippolyte and Meshaeh Hippolyte. All three of her children are students at Tennessee State University. (photos by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

To begin her educational journey, Scruggs started from scratch, she said, buying a GED certificate study guide, and took the SAT practice test, scored well and took the ACT test. “It was an easy process to apply for admittance, and once I was accepted, I just pursued my degree and never looked back,” she added.

So impressed was Scruggs with TSU from the start that her children followed her to the University, including her 23-year old daughter, Ashley, who is working toward her MBA; her 20-year old son Osafa, who is a junior Human Performance and Sports Sciences major; and 17-year-old freshman son, Meshaeh, who is also a Human Performance and Sports Sciences major.

“We are all proud TSU students,” said Scruggs, who will graduate with Summa Cum Laude honors. “I think people get the wrong impression of the University but it is a great institution where the faculty always put students first.”

Initially, Scruggs was not going to “take the walk” at graduation, she said, but thought better of it, admitting not only is she doing it for herself, but her children as well.

“I brought my children to this country with me to provide a better opportunity for them,” she said. “I believe they will have all the opportunities in the world starting with a degree from Tennessee State.”

Scruggs will introduce Gov. Haslam during Tennessee State University’s spring commencement exercise on Saturday, May 10 at 9 a.m. in Hale Stadium. She then has plans to apply to law school at the Nashville School of Law.

 

READ more student success stories including:

Johnathan Fitzgerald
Karen Munoz

 

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

 

About Tennessee State University

With nearly 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU Chair Wins Two Prestigious Edward R. Murrow Awards

Likes 2010NASHVILLE, Tenn.  (TSU News Service) – The Radio Television Digital News Association has announced that a communications professor at Tennessee State University has won two regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for excellence in electronic journalism.

Dr. Terry Likes, Chair of the Department of Communications and Professor of Multimedia Journalism, won the awards in two separate categories, including Audio News Documentary—“In Our Memory, the Soundtrack to News:  How News Events Shape Music,” and Audio Sports Reporting, “We Will Rock You: The Branding of Sports Music.”

Both programs aired on the Tennessee Radio Network.

“It is an honor to represent TSU in this regard and to continue to enhance my reporting skills for the benefit of our students,” said Dr. Likes. “It helps in the classroom when students can see professors remain active in the industry, achieve at a high level.  This helps us encourage students to seek excellence in their own student competitions, as TSU students are doing with evidence of tremendous recent success including 17 Southeast Journalism Conference awards and 9 Tennessee Associated Press student awards this year alone.”

These awards mark the seventh and eighth regional Murrow Award received by Dr. Likes having won Murrows in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and two in 2012.   Likes is the recipient of 52 awards during his career including honors from the Broadcast Education association, the Tennessee Associated Press, Kentucky Associated Press, National Broadcasting Society and the National Press Club.

This year, RTDNA awarded 661 regional Edward R. Murrow Awards in 14 categories, including Overall Excellence, Breaking News, Investigative Reporting, and Website.  RTDNA received more than 4,000 entries during the 2014 awards season, surpassing 2013 by more than 500 entries and setting an all-time record for entries in what proved to be one of the most competitive Edward R. Murrow Awards seasons in RTDNA history.

Dr. Likes competed in Region 8 against other entries from Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia. Regional winners automatically become eligible for the national awards competition, which will be judged in June. The national Edward R.  Murrow Awards will be presented in October at the RTDNA Awards Dinner in New York.

The Radio Television Digital News Association has been honoring outstanding achievements in electronic journalism with the Edward R. Murrow Awards since 1971. Murrow’s pursuit of excellence in journalism embodies the spirit of the awards that carry his name. Murrow Award recipients demonstrate the spirit of excellence that Edward R. Murrow made a standard for the broadcast news profession.

A complete list of the 2014 Regional Edward R. Murrow Awards winners can be found at rtdna.org.

 

 

 

 

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

 

About Tennessee State University

With nearly 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU College of Business Holds Annual Honors and Awards Day Program April 25

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) –The College of Business at Tennessee State University holds an Honors and Awards Day Program on Friday, April 25 at the Avon Williams Campus beginning at 1:30 p.m. in the Auditorium Atrium.

The College will recognize outstanding students who have demonstrated academic excellence with the presentation of numerous scholarships and awards. Graduating students will also be recognized for their hard work, dedication and persistence displayed to reach this milestone in their collegiate career. Outstanding faculty members will also be recognized.

“This event is a celebration of excellence designed to recognize outstanding business students who exemplify stellar academic achievement, who know the importance of community service as demonstrated by their active-service endeavors, and who exhibit exemplary leadership and social involvement,” said Dr. Millicent Lownes-Jackson, dean of the College of Business. “This prestigious and signature event is also the time that the College acknowledges its donors whose generous financial contributions make monetary academic awards for students possible.”

TSU’s College of Business was the first business school in Nashville to earn dual accreditation from the most prestigious accrediting body for business schools in the world, AACSB-International, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.  During this year’s Honors and Awards Day, 15 students will also be inducted into Beta Gamma Sigma, the honor society established for accredited AACSB institutions. Students ranking in the top 10 percent of the baccalaureate and top 20 percent of graduate programs at schools accredited by AACSB International–The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business are eligible for this invitation.

For more information, contact Juandale Cooper, director of Public Service, at 615.963.7369.

 

 

 

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

 

About Tennessee State University

With nearly 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

College of Engineering Holds Annual STEM Leadership Conference April 24-26

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – The College of Engineering at Tennessee State University will host the 5th Annual STEM Leadership Conference April 24-26, and is designed to provide a leadership development experience for STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) majors at the University.

According to Dr. S. Keith Hargrove, dean of the College of Engineering, the objective of the conference is to provide an opportunity for students to learn about key non-academic skills necessary for career success, advocated by working professionals that include alumni and strong industry supporters of the college.

“Through the conference, we hope to excite our current students about their career prospects, to seek global experiences, to learn about emerging technologies, and to prepare for the transition from academic to industry while networking with industry representatives,” said Hargrove. “With a strong demand for STEM graduates across the county, we believe that beyond academics requires further development of critical skills necessary for career advancement and achievement of our students.”

Conference agenda includes:

Thursday, April 24
(all sessions to be held in room 163 in the Research and Sponsored Program Building)

Session 1
9 – 9:45 am
“The Importance of STEM and Its Broad Applications”
Dr. Sujata Guha, Department of Chemistry, TSU

Session 2
10 – 10:45 am
“Leading the Community…Leading for Life”
Capt. Nathan Skopak, U.S. Marine Corps, Murfreesboro, Tenn.

Session 3
11 – 11:45 am
“Globalization”
Kennedy Germain, Procter and Gamble, Cincinnati, Ohio

Opening Luncheon
Noon- 1:30 pm
Keynote Speaker:  Lt. Col. Kenric Smith – Army ROTC, Nashville, Tenn.
President’s Executive Dining Room – Floyd Payne Campus Center

Session 4
2 – 2:45 pm
“Study Abroad Opportunities for STEM Students”
Mark Brinkley  – TSU Office of Diversity and International Affairs

Session 5
3 – 3:45 pm
“Preparing for a Behavioral-Based Interview”
Tiffany Johnson, TSU Career Development Center
(Presented by Society of Women in Engineering (SWE) student organization)

Awards & Recognitions Banquet
6 – 8 pm
Keynote Speaker:  Laron Walker, President, Sciberus Inc., Decatur, Ga.
Friday, April 25 

Faculty Forum with the Dean
9 – 11:30 am
Rm 243, Boswell Bldg.

Student Forum with the Dean
2 – 3:30 pm
Rm 243, Boswell Bldg.

 

Saturday, April 26

TSUEAA Summit
9 am – 1 pm
Rm 163, RSP Bldg.
(Research and Sponsored Programs Bldg.)

 

 

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

 

About Tennessee State University

With nearly 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

Tennessee State University to Host Earth Day Celebration Tuesday, April 22

earthday2011NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – The College of Agriculture, Human and Natural Sciences (CAHNS) will partner with the Center for Service Learning and the Sustainability Department to host an Earth Day Celebration on Tuesday, April 22 beginning at 1 p.m. in the Agricultural Information and Technology Center (AITC).

A schedule of the planned events include:

  • 1 p.m.        Welcome and Earth Day History
        • Dr. De’Etra Young, Assistant Professor
  • 1:15          Go Green North Nashville and TSU Service Learning Day
        • Roni Christian, GGNN Program Manager
  • 1:30          TSU Sustainability Initiatives
        • Dr. Joseph Perry, Director of Sustainability
  • 1:45          Campus Tree Tagging (Arboretum and CAHNS Outdoor Classroom Initiative)
        • Richard Link, Research Assistant
  • 2:45          Earth Day Activities with TSU Early Learning Center
        • Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS)

Earth Day is an annual event, celebrated on April 22, on which events are held worldwide to demonstrate support for environmental protection. It was first celebrated in 1970 by Senator Gaylord Nelson, and is now coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network and celebrated in more than 192 countries each year.

The event is free to attend and students, faculty and staff are encouraged to participate. For questions, please contact Dr. De’Etra Young at 615.963.5123 or dyoung23@tnstate.edu.

 

 

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

 

About Tennessee State University

With nearly 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU Students Compete in ‘Battle of the Brains’ National Tournament

A team of students from Tennessee State University competed against 47 other teams from across the country in the Honda Campus All-Star Challenge National Championship April 12-16 in Torrance, Calif. Members of the team included (left to right) Aurora Garvin, Brandon Bartee, Joseph Patrick, and Adriann Wilson.
A team of students from Tennessee State University competed against 47 other teams from across the country in the Honda Campus All-Star Challenge National Championship April 12-16 in Torrance, Calif. Members of the team included (left to right) Aurora Garvin, Brandon Bartee, Joseph Patrick, and Adriann Wilson.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Students from Tennessee State University had the opportunity to compete in a “battle of the brains” recently when they took on challengers from universities and colleges from across the country as they took part in the 25th Annual Honda Campus All Star Challenge.

Held in Torrance, Calif., April 12-16 the competition featured the best and brightest students from 48 of America’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities to match wits and test their knowledge on such topics as the arts, geography, literature, history, politics science, as well as African-American literature and history among other categories.

The team, according to Dr. John Miglietta, professor of Political Science and coach of the team, has traditionally done very well in the competition, and has advanced to the Sweet 16 the last two years. TSU also claimed the top spot in 2007 as the national champions.

“The students did very well, with several of them playing in their first national tournament,” said Miglietta. “TSU was very competitive and the team received valuable experience. This will serve them well for next year’s tournament.”

The competition is divided into two phases, with the first phase a round-robin competition in which the field of 48 is divided into eight divisions of six teams. Each team plays the other team in its division once.

TSU alumnus Malick Badjie was inducted into the HCASC Hall of Fame during the competition. Malick captained the team for three years from 2001-2003.
TSU alumnus Malick Badjie was inducted into the HCASC Hall of Fame during the competition. Malick captained the team for three years from 2001-2003.

“Our team started off slow losing its first three games but rallied to defeat Virginia Union and Clark Atlanta Universities,” added Miglietta. “The team finished 2-3 and ultimately took third place in the division.”

“The top two teams advance from each division into the playoffs. TSU did not advance but was rooting for our friends from Fisk University who eventually were winners of the tournament.”

Representing TSU this year were: Adriann N. Wilson, a junior Mechanical Engineering major from Albany, Ga.; Brandon Bartee, junior Mechanical Engineering major from Manchester, Tenn.; Aurora Garvin, a sophomore Art major from Nashville, Tenn.; and Joseph Edward Patrick II, a junior Electrical Engineering major also from Nashville.

“The great thing about this competition is that it allows students from all over the country to interact and make ‘friends for life’ while also competing for scholarships for their institutions,” said Miglietta. “Every school that participates receives some scholarship money with the winners taking home $50,000 for their school. This year as National Championship Qualifiers TSU will receive $3,000 from American Honda.”

A highlight of the tournament was the induction of former player and TSU alumnus Malick Badjie into the HCASC Hall of Fame. Malick captained the team for three years from 2001-2003. While at TSU, in addition to HCASC, Malick was also active in Model United Nations, the Muslim Students Association, as well as the Honors Program. Malick now lives in London, United Kingdom, and has gone on to a career in financial services.

Celebrating 25 years of HBCU excellence, Honda Campus All-Star Challenge is one of Honda’s largest and longest running philanthropic initiatives in the United States. Since 1989, the program has awarded more than $7 million in grants to participating HBCUs, impacting the lives of over 100,000 students across 22 states. The participating HBCUs share in grants from Honda of up to $328,000 each year.

 

 

 

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

 

About Tennessee State University

With nearly 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

Commercial Real Estate Conference Kicks off at TSU Avon Williams Campus Thursday, April 17

Brian Bailey
Brian Bailey

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Brian Bailey, senior financial policy analyst at the Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank, will be the keynote speaker at a one-day conference on “Commercial Real Estate Opportunities and Obstacles.”  The conference will take place Thursday, April 17 on the Avon Williams Campus at Tennessee State University.

Hosted by the Department of Economics and Finance in the College of Business, the conference will also include two panels of experts. One panel will comprise industry experts who are actively involved in various types of commercial real estate, such as office, warehouse, multi-family housing, and residential construction.

Another panel comprising bankers from Middle Tennessee will discuss lending to the commercial real estate industry.

According to conference organizers, Bailey, a lead reviewer in the “annual stress tests” conducted on the nation’s largest financial institutions, will focus his presentation on commercial real estate trends in the Southeast market.

Some of the real estate and banking institutions participating in the conference are CBRE Multi-family Group, Chas. Hawkins Co., Inc., Boyle Investments, Regent Homes, the Bank of Nashville, Regions Bank, Capstar Bank, US Bank and Pinnacle Financial Partners.

The conference will start promptly at 8 a.m. with registration in the Atrium. Cost to attend the conference is $50 per person, or $275 for a table to seat six persons.

For ticket or other information contact Dr. Jerry W. Crigger at (615) 717-7393 or jcrigger@tnstate.edu.

 

 

 

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

 

About Tennessee State University

With nearly 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

The HOPE Dream: TSU Alum Pitch Man for State Education Lottery Program

Evan Brown
Evan Brown

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Evan Roosevelt Brown has HOPE. It has taken in him to places he never dreamt of.

So, he is lending his face and voice to help more than 100,000 Tennessee students each year get that same sweet taste of HOPE.

Brown, a native of Nashville, is a TV spokesperson for the Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation, which funds the Tennessee HOPE Scholarship. The corporation is celebrating its 10th year. During that time the Lottery has raised nearly $3 billion.

And Brown, who is the contract compliance coordinator at the Lottery, has all the right tools to get the corporation’s message across. He is savvy, has nice looks with great intellect, but more than that, he has the message that it pays to get an excellent education with hard work, and the HOPE Scholarship is the way.

After all, the 2009 Tennessee State University business administration graduate with a concentration in economics and finance knows what it means to work hard. It took focus like “keeping my nose to the grind” and maintaining decent grades during his college career to get him to where he is.

“Growing up in my home I had no choice but to work hard and move up,” said Brown, whose parents are all college graduates in successful careers. “My brother and sister, who are graduates of TSU, got a full ride in college. But with me not getting that, the HOPE Scholarship made it easy on my parents not to bear that cost.”

So when the opportunity came up to be the spokesperson for the program that helped him through college, Brown jumped on it.

“This is a chance to help other people get what I got,” said Brown. “Being the face of the state’s education lottery program and people seeing me is an encouragement to give back and inspire others.”

Brown knows that his new “gig,” as he calls it, comes with a certain level of notoriety, but he says the part of the “job” that encourages him the most is being able to motivate “young people” to seek excellence.

He has been with the Lottery for seven years, two as an intern, starting when he was a student at TSU. His career growth at the corporation in five years as a full-time staff has been remarkable, something he calls a blessing.

“I have moved from being an intern to being the contract compliance coordinator, which includes project management, procurement services, business development, and records retention,” Brown said in a suave but very humble tone. “I started as an intern in the finance department, to the contract department handling inside sales, then credit analyst before my current position.”

About how he was selected to be the face of the Lottery with commercial spots running on YouTube and TV along with radio stations throughout the state, Brown said it all started with a conversation between him, the president, and the vice president and legal counsel of the corporation when they asked him to appear in the advertisement to mark the 10th anniversary of the Lottery.

“I think because I had been there a long time and because of the level of relationship I had with them and my advancement in the corporation prompted them to consider me,” Brown added.

His spot is one of three commercials running on stations around the state to highlight the success of the Lottery’s education program.

Brown, who earned an MBA in 2012 from Trevecca Nazarene University, touts his undergraduate preparation at TSU as the foundation to his success. He minces no word to talk about “my TSU” whenever the opportunity comes up.

Go Big Blue, I am a Tennessee HOPE scholar and a proud graduate of Tennessee State University,” Brown says in his commercial as he pitches the Lottery.

For him, it is all about HOPE.

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

About Tennessee State University

With nearly 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU, MADD Host Power Conference Wednesday, April 16

Area Colleges and Universities Collaborate to Tackle Underage Drinking Problem

 

MADD-Power-Conference-Flier-1NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – In May of 1996, the car Phaedra Marriott-Olsen was driving was hit nearly head on when a driver crossed the centerline into oncoming traffic. The driver had a .08 blood alcohol content level but was never charged with a DUI since the legal limit at the time was .10 in Missouri.

She spent the next five and a half weeks on life support after the crash that left her paralyzed. But as she picked up the pieces of her life, she was determined to turn a tragedy into a positive message. From her hospital bed she worked to put an end to drunk driving by allowing students to visit her hospital room to see first-hand the effects of drinking and driving.

Marriott-Olsen, now a program specialist for Mothers Against Drunk Driving Tennessee, will bring her message of hope and inspiration to Tennessee State University as colleges and universities across Middle Tennessee join forces with MADD to tackle underage drinking.

The Power Conference will take place at the University Wednesday, April 16 from 10:15 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. in the Cox-Lewis Theater in the Performing Arts Center. Marriott-Olsen and Kathy Kilgore-Beeler, the mother of a 19-year old drunk-driving victim, will share their powerful stories of turning tragedy into destiny and the power of influence.

During the conference, participants will learn how to leverage the Power of You(th) to make a difference, and how to be a part of a campaign to stop underage drinking during the upcoming prom and graduation season. Power of You(th) materials and messaging will be available to help encourage students to take a stand with peers against underage drinking.

The conference is also an opportunity to get the word out about the upcoming PowerTalk 21® day on April 21. The day has been set aside to encourage parents everywhere to talk to their kids about alcohol, using a free online workbook available through MADD.

Students and administrators from all area colleges and universities are invited to attend. For more information on the Power Conference, contact Michelle Rozell, coordinator of volunteer resources with MADD Tennessee, at 615.360.8055 or michelle.rozell@madd.org

 

 

About Mothers Against Drunk Driving

Founded by a mother whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver, Mothers Against Drunk Driving® (MADD) is the nation’s largest nonprofit working to protect families from drunk driving and underage drinking. With the help of those who want a safer future, MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving® will end this danger on America’s roads. PowerTalk 21® is the national day for parents to talk with their kids about alcohol, using the proven strategies of Power of Parents® to reduce the risk of underage drinking. And as one of the largest victim services organizations in the U.S., MADD also supports drunk and drugged driving victims and survivors at no charge, serving one person every 8.6 minutes through local MADD victim advocates.

 

 

 

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

 

About Tennessee State University

With nearly 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.