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Young Kurdish Immigrant Beats Near Insurmountable Odds to Earn University Education, American Dream

NASHVILLE (TSU News Service) – Ghariba Babiry is a classic American dream story.

Coming to the United States 15 years ago without understanding a word of English, no prior schooling, and soon to receive a college degree,  …with a potential teaching job in tow, that’s quite an accomplishment.

“It’s all still a dream,” she said.

For the young Kurd, it all started at about age 14 when she, her father, mother and three younger siblings had to flee the tyrannical rule of Saddam Hussein. They left their Kurdish homeland in northern Iraq for a new life in the U.S.

They landed in Nashville, Tenn.- a totally different culture and way of doing things.

“This was all a new experience and yet my siblings and I were required to cope and succeed amid some serious challenges,” Babiry said.

But challenge, for Babiry, was an understatement.  It was an awakening.

“For my first time ever in a classroom, I was thrust into the eighth grade at Cameron Middle School, with no understanding of English and totally dumfounded,” she said. “I had a separate interpreter with me in class about three hours a week to guide me through the instructions while the teacher was teaching. Worse yet, at 14 years of age, I was the oldest in the class but understood the least. This was very difficult. I tried to give up several times.”

Thanks to Babiry’s very persistent parents, she hung in there through the daily struggle of trying to complete class assignments – almost always the last to finish.

“My mother was constantly on me not to give up. ‘Never give up; don’t be illiterate like me; I can’t even write my own name,’ she would say,” Babiry added.“For my father, all he wanted me to think about was school. ‘I’ll provide you with everything I can after all I came to America for you, so that I can give to you what I did not have the chance to do in Kurdistan,’ he would say.”

The persistence, struggle and what seemed to Babiry then as harassment, paid off through developmental courses -in middle school, high school, community college. …and now Tennessee State University.

On May 11, she will be among more than 1,000 graduates who will receive their degrees when Tennessee State University holds its spring commencement at Hale Stadium.

She will be the third among her siblings to receive a college degree since arriving in the U.S. Two younger brothers, one in Mechanical Engineering and the other in Nursing, have also graduated from TSU. Her youngest sister is pursuing a nursing degree at Middle Tennessee Sate University.

“The idea of graduating May 11 is very surreal because I have been through so much and there were many times that I was not sure I would get through the Praxis exams,” said Babiry, who will receive her degree in Early Childhood Education. “It is even more special to know that my parents will finally see me graduate after many years of hard work. I am thankful to Allah the almighty for their support and for giving me the strength and some very important people who understood my situation and encouraged me along the way.”

While Babiry tries to forget the painful past, she is reminded of “teachers who treated me badly because I did not understand like the other students” did.

“I have made a promise not to do that to my students. Instead, I will be like those who did everything they could to make sure I fit in, understood and treated me with respect and not like I was a burden. A kind word and a little encouragement go a long way; believe me,” she said, giving recognition to some of her TSU professors, especially Dr. Graham Matthews, her senior advisor.

“I had some good teachers, but Dr. Matthews, Ms. (Deborah) Bellamy (also at TSU), and Dr. Tammy Lipsey (Reading Clinical Coordinator for the Metro School System) are heaven sent,” she said. “They were never too busy to make sure I was doing the right thing.”

In addition to her degree, Babiry has completed all certifications required for teaching, with the exception of the English Language Learners Certification or endorsement required to teach in the schools in her area. She should get that certification soon, she said.

She is currently a student teacher at Haywood Elementary School in Nashville.

“I am really enjoying student teaching. I love seeing my students’ faces every day and helping them,” said Babiry, who also worked as a substitute teacher with the Metro School System. “I have a heart for children.  Like many immigrants, I have experienced many hardships in my life, and I am certain that because of my experience, I will be the best role model for my students.”

Babiry seeks no pity, even though it took her seven years to complete her college work, including two years off to focus on passing the Praxis, which she attempted 13 times before finally passing, and spending her first two years of college taking ELL classes and developmental course, she feels stronger.

“This was all because of the difficulty with the English language,” she said. “But I am thankful I stuck with it. I am stronger, more confident, and with my education, I am ready to face the world.”

TSU Students’ Spring Break Projects Help Provide Comfort for Three Florida Families

NASHVILLE (TSU News Service) – Spring break is the time when college students usually flock to the beaches, hang out at parties or just lay back and forget about school for a while.

But for a group of Tennessee State University students, spring break was a time to get their hands dirty to make life better for some less fortunate members of society. As a result of their hard work, three lucky families in Daytona, Fla., now have homes they can be proud of.

As part of a Student Activities “alternative spring break” program, and in partnership with Habitat for Humanity, about 45 students helped to rebuild and remodel homes in three economically hard-hit communities in Daytona.

Although this was an entirely Student Activities initiative, it was made so much easier with the encouragement, and personal financial and material support of TSU President Glenda Glover, who contributed $3,000 cash, and paid for gasoline to fuel the busses that transported the students to Florida.

“This clearly showed leadership and eagerness for the success of her students,” said Zachariah Williams, an Aeronautical and Industrial Technology major from New Orleans, about Dr. Glover’s contribution. “With our experience in the past, I was surprise that she did not only donate gas for the shuttles, but actually made a personal cash donation to make it easy for students to experience such a life-changing event.”

Referring to the students as “great ambassadors” of the University’s “Think, Work, Serve” motto, Dr. Glover said community service is an integral part of college life that students are introduced to as soon as they arrive on campus.

“As a University president, it is a moment of pride when students want to go above and beyond to help others,” she said. “It literally warmed my heart to know that these students would spend a part of their spring break volunteering with Habitat for Humanity.”

Last year, Tennessee State University students provided more than 20,000 hours of service to the Nashville community, with an estimated value of nearly $400,000. While this year’s numbers are still being calculated, TSU students continue to participate in a number of community service activities.

The SGA’s “Mr. TSU,” Sidney Johnson, a founding member of the I AM project, one of the organizers of the Daytona trip, said the idea of the rebuilding and remodeling plan was based on one of his organization’s core values of targeting freshman students to help them “foster the qualities that the ideal TSU man/woman possesses.”

“The idea of an alternative spring break was introduced at TSU to give students a sense of community while gaining meaningful experiences for their resumes or portfolios as they prepare to enter the real world,” said Johnson, a senior Supply Chain major from Memphis, Tenn. “This is not new; other universities offer the choice of an alternative spring break to engage students in meaningful hands-on activities, and the Daytona projects were good examples.”

Dr. Clarence Ball, Professor of Communications, who accompanied the students, said he was impressed by their (students) commitment and dedication to the projects.

“They show a high level of leadership and commitment that made the work so much easier and helped us to complete the projects in a very short time,” said Dr. Ball. “I was really surprised at how much the students liked and enjoyed helping those families.”

Also helping on the projects were members of the TSU Pep Club. Together, the students did landscaping, painting, refinishing, as well as some carpentry and masonry work.

To be sure, the trip was not all work and no play. They had fun visiting Universal Studios in nearby Orlando, took in the beaches, and visited Bethune Cookman University campus, also in Daytona.

The students were so impacted by their Florida experience, especially in helping to make life more comfortable for the three families in Daytona. Participants were all, “Yes,” and “Of course,” when asked if they would participate in another Alternative Spring Break. They left Daytona with a sense of achievement knowing that through their effort, three families now have a safe and sturdy place to sleep.

Submitted by:
Courtney Mickens, Sophomore Communications major

College of Engineering Partners with Boeing to Further Research of Aircraft Systems

NASHVILLE (TSU News Service) – The College of Engineering at Tennessee State University is continuing a decade-long partnership with the Boeing Company when it was recently announced that Boeing would provide nearly $600,000 worth of funding for the College to help address some of the aircraft challenges facing the company.

Boeing recently approached the College about additional capabilities of the faculty, receiving three research projects to help solve some key issues within the organization, with each project having the potential for continuous funding after the first year. The three projects complements the renewal of the Boeing Aircraft Seat Design Project of $280,000, with a total funding award of $589,000.00.

“The opportunity for academia and industry to collaborate to solve industrial problems makes the company more competitive, and enhances the quality of our engineering programs for students and faculty,” said Dr. S. Keith Hargrove, Dean of the College of Engineering.

The three research projects the college will be involve in include using artificial intelligence for the development of aircraft propulsion controls; developing resilient control mechanisms to mitigate cyber attacks in engineering embedded systems; and developing mathematical models for energy harvesting and storage.

“These grants represents the dedication of the faculty for research, and their commitment to enhance the programs in attracting students to the College of Engineering,” added Hargrove. “Our 10-year relationship has resulted in the hiring of graduates, student internships and co-ops, and research projects that develops faculty expertise and student knowledge.”

This is the second grant in as many months received by the College of Engineering. Back in September, several faculty members from the Department of Mathematical Sciences were recipients of a $300,000 research grant to promote research in applied mathematics and curriculum development. The grant was the result of a collaborative proposal submitted by the faculty members and funded by the National Science Foundation.

TSU’s Department of Mathematical Sciences Receives $300K Research Grant

NASHVILLE (TSU News Service) – Several faculty members from the Department of Mathematical Sciences in the College of Engineering at Tennessee State University are the recipients of a $300,000 research grant to promote research in applied mathematics and curriculum development.

The grant is the result of a collaborative proposal submitted by the faculty members and funded by the National Science Foundation.

The project entitled “New Curriculum and Undergraduate Research in Applied Mathematics at TSU” is under the direction of Drs. Dorjsuren Badamdorj, Ghan Bhatt, Patricio Jara, Sandra Scheick, and Martene Stanberry, and will develop a new applied mathematics program and increase interdisciplinary undergraduate research activities in STEM fields at TSU.

“This grant represents the dedication of the faculty for research, and their commitment to enhance the curriculum in attracting students in mathematical sciences,” said Dr. S. Keith Hargrove, Dean of the College of Engineering.

The goal of the project is to develop and implement an applied mathematics program, which is designed to fill the gap between mathematics and other STEM areas, and includes four objectives:

  • To develop new applied mathematics courses and curriculum,
  • To institutionalize a new concentration in applied mathematics for the B.S. in mathematics,
  • To enhance the educational and research experiences of STEM students through, classes, summer workshops, and seminars in applied mathematics, and
  • To increase the amount of mathematics majors at TSU by 10 percent.

The three general components of the project are curriculum development, a university wide seminar series, and summer research workshops. As a part of the curriculum development, at least five new courses in applied mathematics will be developed, implemented, and integrated into the existing mathematics curriculum. The main objective is to equip STEM students with a strong background of fundamental mathematical tools enabling them to specialize or diversify as opportunity and initiative allow.

New technologies will be available to enhance the teaching and research capacity of the University, including a state-of-the art computer laboratory with parallel computing capabilities. The seminar series will expose the entire undergraduate population to various interdisciplinary research topics in STEM fields in order to motivate students to pursue STEM majors and careers by providing a challenging and exciting seminar series through selected motivational speakers. In addition, students will learn about internship and career opportunities.

The summer research workshops will be held at TSU and will be offered to undergraduate students in STEM departments at TSU and other HBCUs.

The five-week long research program will be divided into two main components; training and research.

Three weeks will involve training and will consist of in-depth lectures necessary to understand the proposed research topic and to provide hands-on training on computer software. The last two weeks will give students and opportunity to work in teams and on proposed research projects under the supervision of the organizing mentors.

Read more on the College of Engineering and the educational and research opportunities.

33 Future Scientists, Engineers Complete 5-Week TSU STEM Summer Program

NASHVILLE (TSU News Service) – Thirty-three prospective college freshmen, with interests in agricultural sciences, biology, chemistry, computer science, mathematics and engineering, Friday completed a five-week summer residential institute at Tennessee State University, intended to give them a head start on their college work.

The students, all recent high school graduates from Tennessee and some from as far as Texas, Illinois and Michigan, participated in the combined Engineering Concepts Institute (ECI) and the HBCU-UP/STEM Rising Freshman Summer Institute, funded by a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant.

Describing the program as a “boot camp” for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) majors, Dr. S. Keith Hargrove, Dean of the College of Engineering, said it was intended to improve the students’ chances in college as well as give them a jump-start on their course work.

“Studies have shown that students who participate in pre-college programs have a much higher chance of graduating from college than those who don’t,” Hargrove said, referring to the students as “unique with a higher potential to be successful in their academic career.”

State Rep. Brenda Gilmore, who served as guest speaker at the closing ceremony, told the students that “America needs you” to fill the gap created by the shortage of manpower in the STEM areas.

“If our nation must succeed in technology, engineering, math and science, then you must prepare yourselves for the challenges of the 21st century by being the best at whatever you do, and more focused and determined to achieve at your very best,” she told the students.

The lawmaker lauded the parents for “steering your children in this” direction.

“They could have been somewhere else,” she said. “But you saw it fit to support their dreams by ensuring that they engaged themselves in something more meaningful that will not only enhance their college work, but also ensure their success in life.”

She added, “Making the grades must come along with other responsibilities. Be civil minded. Participate in voting or someone who does not have your interest at heart will decide your fate.  Volunteer, that’s one way of getting to where you want to go. Emulate people who are going somewhere. And above all, believe in God as you face the forces in your life.”

Future cardiologist Matthew Kennedy, 18, a recent graduate of Cane Ridge High School in Antioch, Tenn. (with 3.8 GPA), said not only did the program prepare him “for what’s ahead,” Gilmore’s speech provided an added motivation for him.

“This summer program gave me a strong academic boost in math, physics, chemistry and computer science,” said Kennedy, who plans to major in biology at TSU. “The speaker also has made me even more determined.”

Dr. Orville Bignall, Associate Professor of Physics and one of the instructors in the ECI/STEM summer program, is not surprised that participants are motivated and feel more confident.

“This program provided the students with the basic tools they need to be successful,” he said. “It took out the fear usually associated with physics, and gave them the tools to navigate the tough science courses.”

According to Dee Green, Coordinator of the ECI and HBCU-UP/STEM Summer institutes, all but three of the students who participated in the program have already committed to attend TSU for the fall semester.

“We hope to get the others to commit by the time school opens,” she said.

TSU leads consortium of colleges to China

NASHVILLE (TSU News Service) – The U.S. college population is about 18 million students.  Reported by the Institute of International Education in 2009-10, only about 270,604 participated in any type of study abroad program. These students take advantage of learning not only outside the classroom…..but outside their country of residence.  Their educational experience is enriched by a more global perspective, lifestyle appreciation in the U.S., respect for other cultures and people, and indeed become better decision makers in their respective disciplines.

Students from Tennessee State University recently returned from a study abroad experience to China.  Now recognized as the second largest economy on earth, it was a returning summer visit to this populous country with an amazing ancient history, a nationally directed plan for economic growth, and several industrial enterprise zones that serve as a catalyst for rapid development and urbanization.

TSU led an entourage of five universities (TSU, University of Memphis, Dyersburg, Pellissippi, and Volunteer State Community Colleges) on a four-week study abroad experience as part of the Tennessee Consortium of International Studies, commonly known as TnCIS. The participants were a highly diverse group in gender, race, and academic disciplines.

The first week established a basic level of learning in the language and culture of China. Instructors guided the students through credit earning courses in Sociology, Philosophy, and Logistics & Manufacturing, while being engaged in a foreign environment to complement the knowledge content of their coursework.  The intense curriculum had students immersed in a cultural environment to learn about Chinese history, relationships, international business, and competitive technologies through industry and plant visits.  Thus, several state universities have also established international initiatives on their campuses and abroad.  Within the Tennessee Board of Regents system, the University of Memphis and MTSU have innovative programs with countries in Asia, Europe, and on several other continents.

However, according to the Institute of International Education, almost 80 percent of the U.S. study abroad participants are white and include a large majority of females.  The 8th Conference Forum on Education Abroad has issued a call for more student diversity in study abroad programs, and is encouraging more programs like TnCIS to reach out to community colleges and four-year colleges to diversify the pool with more welcoming strategies that may traditionally hinder some groups from an international experience.

Expanding international education in “all” disciplines can help invite more students and promote awareness of the employment value and marketability of a study abroad experience.  Providing financial support and student organizations are excellent tools for advocating the benefits of international travel.

As Tennessee State University celebrates a century of existence and educating thousands of graduates, its mission of “Think-Work-Serve” extends beyond the shores of the United States with service learning activities, multi-cultural immersion, and providing a value-added education through its study abroad programs in Asia, Europe, South America and Africa.  Though African Americans composed less than 5 percent of the 270,604 students that participated in a study abroad experience in 2009-10, TSU has responded to the call by the Forum on Education Abroad to recruit more underrepresented groups for international travel.

In particular, the College of Engineering at TSU has sponsored several engineering students with foreign visits to Brazil, Germany, Korea and China over the last few years. More minorities are participating in these programs, but these numbers can be increased by more engagement by HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges & Universities) and recruiting at majority institutions.

Creating and expanding study abroad programs through partnerships with international universities, faculty exchanges, scholarships, and organizations that promote global experiences, are strategies to further provide all Tennessee college students with a quality education that rivals other states, and positions us with a larger residential workforce pool of global-educated employees.

TSU Alumna Returns as Fortune 500 Executive-on-Loan

NASHVILLE (TSU News Service) – Patricia Brewer Hairston has landed a “rare” opportunity to give back to her alma mater. The 1977 graduate of Tennessee State University, an executive at Corning Incorporated, a Fortune 500 company, will be working at TSU for one year as an “executive-on-loan” funded by Corning.

As the Corning executive-on-loan, Hairston will work closely with TSU leadership to advance the goals of the Supply Chain Management Program and other leadership initiatives at the institution. “This is an opportunity that I cherish,” Hairston said. “I always wanted to give back to Tennessee State University, and this is certainly a way to do so in a more meaningful way.”

Hairston, director of Global Transportation and Trade Compliance at Corning, currently chairs the TSU Supply Chain Management Program Governing Board, a leadership group of nine leading Fortune 500 companies that collaborate and work with the University to review curriculum, lead research, and develop students for future leadership in supply chain management. She has been a member of the board since 2006.

TSU President, Dr. Portia Holmes Shields, called Corning “a forward-thinking company” for assigning Hairston to TSU where she can have a direct impact on the development of future supply chain management professionals. “We are thrilled to see her return to us so capable and a more strengthened graduate with a level of technical and executive expertise that can only be helpful to Tennessee State University,” she said.

According to Hairston, Corning, the world leader in specialty glass and ceramics, has already hired two TSU students and hires interns from the supply chain program annually. “I appreciate the support of Corning for its foresight and the partnership with Tennessee State University, which is ensuring that TSU graduates are well trained and ready for the workforce.  We see the supply chain management program as a pipeline to recruit the best and brightest from this university, and I am glad to be a part of this effort.”

Hairston, who earned a bachelor’s degree in Architectural and Civil Engineering from TSU, said her assignment has been a “valuable” experience that has given her the opportunity to reconnect with her alma mater. She was particularly thankful to Dr. Festus Olorunniwo, chair of the Department of Business Administration at TSU, for his effort in getting her back to TSU.

“We first met at a supply chain conference,” Hairston said. “When he realized that I was a TSU graduate, he invited me to join the Supply Chain Board, which I did not give much thought to at the time, but he insisted and followed up with calls and I finally agreed to join. Since then, I have attended every board meeting except for two because of previously planned engagements. Overall, this has been a very rewarding experience.”

Dr. Olorunniwo described Hairston as “an experienced and dedicated professional with a strong commitment” to give back to TSU. “As chair, she has ably led the body in ensuring the growth of this program, and has helped in proving internship and job placement opportunities for our supply chain students,” he said.

Hairston, who will also work with the president of TSU in an advisory capacity, has received high commendation from the Vice President of University Relations and Development, Dr. William Nelsen, with whom she has been working closely. “TSU is very fortunate to have an executive of her caliber and qualification to be assigned to this institution,” he said. “We look forward to her leadership on important projects that would advance this university.”

At Corning, where she has been since 1999, the TSU-trained engineer has held several key positions, including director of International Procurement and Transportation, leading and facilitating the growth of Corning’s outsourced manufacturing capability in Asia. Before that she served as director of Global Strategic Sourcing, where she led a $3.1 billion company spending initiative, while instituting other cost-cutting measures. Prior to joining Corning, Hairston worked for Westinghouse as manager of international procurement, commodity centers manager, and as the IT procurement manager.

Hairston is in her third year as chair of the Tennessee State University Supply Chain Management Program Governing Board. The Mobile, Ala., native is married to Robert J. Hairston. They have five children.

Telecommunications Pioneer to Deliver TSU Commencement Address

NASHVILLE (TSU News Service) – Jesse Russell, Chairman and CEO of incWORKS, and recognized as the father of digital cellular technology, will speak at Tennessee State University’s 2012 commencement ceremony, Saturday, May 5. The annual celebration will take place at 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. in the Gentry Center.

Trained as an electrical engineer at Tennessee State University and Stanford University, and recognized globally as a thought-leader, technology expert and inventor in the field of wireless communication, Russell has played a major role in shaping the wireless communications industry direction through his visionary leadership and innovative perspectives for standards, technologies as well as innovative new wireless service concepts.

Russell is currently Chairman and CEO of incNETWORKS, a Broadband Wireless Communications Company focused on 4th Generation Wireless Communications Networks and Technologies. He has nearly three decades of professional experience in directing Research and Development of pioneering technologies, products and services related to the communications industry with Lucent Bell Labs, AT&T and currently incNETWORKS.

Russell received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering from Tennessee State University in 1972 and his Masters Degree in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University in 1973. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, a Fellow of the IEEE, and a Fellow of the International Engineering Consortium. In 1980, Eta Kappa Nu selected Russell as “The Most Outstanding Young Electrical Engineer of the Year” under the age of 32. He has more than 75 U. S. Patents to his credit in the Communication Engineering field.

He is also an internationally recognized Wireless Communications Consultant in the area of Advanced Broadband Wireless Technologies and emerging broadband wireless 3G and 4G product strategy, as well as a consultant in regulatory and spectrum strategy. In addition, Russell consults on wireless standards related issues such as RF health and safety matters as well as Cellular Communication Industry Standards.

The commencement addresses will be free and open to the public. The College of Agriculture, Human and Natural Science; the College of Education; and the College of Liberal Arts commencement ceremony begins at 9 a.m. The ceremony for the College of Business; College of Engineering; College of Health Sciences; and College of Public Service and Urban Affairs will be held at 2 p.m.

For more information call 615.963.5331 or visit www.tnstate.edu/records/commencement/.

College of Engineering Hosts STEM Leadership Conference

NASHVILLE (TSU News Service) – The College of Engineering at Tennessee State University will host a STEM Leadership Conference April 26-28. The conference will take place in the Research and Sponsored Programs Building and the Farrell-Westbrook Complex.

This year’s conference will feature guest speakers by industry and engineering leaders during the three-day conference. A series of seminars will be held Thursday, April 26 for College of Engineering students and include:

  • STEM Leadership Topic
    Research and Sponsored Programs Bldg Lobby
    8-8:25 a.m.
  • Who is a Global Engineer
    RSP Room 163
    8:30-9:20 a.m.
  • Entrepreneurship
    RSP Room 163
    9:25-10:15 a.m.
  • Automotive Technologies
    RSP Room 163
    10:20-11:10 a.m.
  • Lunch with Guest speaker Jeff Buchanan
    President’s Executive Dining Room
    11:20 a.m.-12:50 p.m.
  • Personal Branding
    RSP Room 163
    1-1:55p.m.
  • Cloud Computing
    RSP Room 163
    2-2:55 p.m.
  • Preparing for Professional Exams
    RSP Room 163
    3-3:55 p.m.

On Friday, April 27, the conference Awards and Recognition Banquet takes place at the Farrell-Westbrook Complex (The Barn) 6-8 p.m. Milton Woods, TSU alumnus and engineer consultant, will be the guest speaker.  The conference closes Saturday, April 28 with the Engineering Alumni Summit from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. in the Research Sponsored Programs building, room 209, and Student picnic beginning at noon on the Boswell Lawn.

For more information, contact Kevin Williams, Engineering Undergraduate Program coordinator at 615.963.5879 or kwilliams41@tnstate.edu.

TSU Student Dreams Taking Flight

NASHVILLE (TSU News Service) – Ivana Page, the only female at Tennessee State University majoring in aeronautical and industrial technology, has decided to go where few women have had the opportunity to go… in search of a career in the cockpit of a major airliner.

In September 2010 Page, who grew up in Belleville, Ill., a small suburban town outside of St. Louis, Mo., visited the University for the first time as part of an HBCU tour group sponsored by Senator James Clayborne from her hometown. “When I got here I knew that TSU was the school for me because it just felt right in my spirit, I knew that I had a purpose to fulfill here,” said Page. “Although I was offered many scholarships from other universities I choose TSU because as soon as I stepped on the campus and got a ray of that ‘golden sunshine’ I knew that this was the place for me.”

Now in her sophomore year, Page selected the program in preparation to live out goals she sets with the encouragement of her mother. “My mother told me that I could do anything I put my mind to and I thought, why not shoot for the stars,” said Page. “I wanted to go as high as I could go, and I decided that the only way to do that was to touch the sky with the tip of an airplanes nose”, she added.

Page has charted a career course that women have had difficulty navigating, primarily because so few opportunities are afforded them.  According to a 2011 news report from CNN, of the 53,000 members of the Air Line Pilots Association, which represents pilots at major and regional carriers in the United States and Canada, only about 5 percent are women. According to the International Society of Women Airline Pilots, only about 450 women worldwide are airline captains — pilots in command who supervise all the other crewmembers on a flight.

However, Page is optimistic about her future and the future enrollment of female students in the aeronautical programs at TSU. “If we continue to encourage and recruit females to try careers in this area I believe the numbers will increase”, said Page. “But it will not be done without a lot of hard work, inspiration, and reassurance from the college.”

Page’s long-term plans include graduate school, private and commercial pilot license with the ultimate goal of being a commercial pilot. But she also has plans to increase the number of women prepared for careers as pilots.  “I want to open a flight school to encourage young girls, especially young minority girls to fly,” she said. “I would like to teach them that becoming a pilot is as good of a career choice as becoming a nurse and that they should be encouraged to look into the aeronautical and industrial technology sector when choosing a career.”

She has applied for scholarships, internships and fellowships with NASA and believes her career choice is the best.  “You learn so much about the world around you when pursuing this career, it’s engineering in every form and you get bits of every discipline mechanical, computer, electrical, and even metrology”, she said. “It’s the best of all the STEM disciplines and you get the knowledge that you can say you will be doing something upon graduating that will be larger-than-life”.

Currently, Page is working towards her pilot’s license at the Scott Air Force Base Aero club.