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Medal of Honor Recipient Sgt. Dakota Meyer Motivates Small Business Leaders

Courtesy U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Nashville District

Story by Mark Rankin

 

Medal of Honor recipient Marine Sgt. Dakota Meyer (center) talks with participants during a break at the 3rd Annual Small Business Training Forum at the Tennessee State University, Avon Williams Campus, in Nashville, Tenn., March 13. Sgt. Meyer is currently the president of Dakota Meyer Enterprises Incorporated and most recently received his first federal contract from the Corps of Engineers. (photo by Leon Roberts, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Nashville District)
Medal of Honor recipient Marine Sgt. Dakota Meyer (center) talks with participants during a break at the 3rd Annual Small Business Training Forum at the Tennessee State University, Avon Williams Campus, in Nashville, Tenn., March 13. Sgt. Meyer is currently the president of Dakota Meyer Enterprises Incorporated and most recently received his first federal contract from the Corps of Engineers. (photo by Leon Roberts, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Nashville District)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – More than 266 business owners, managers and reps from as far away as California and Texas gathered at the Tennessee State University, Avon Williams Campus, March 13, to hear a Medal of Honor recipient speak and to collect information on federal, state and local procurement systems during the 3rd Annual Small Business Training Forum.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District Small Business Office, Society of American Military Engineers Nashville Post, local businesses, and USACE experts, contracting, engineering and operations participated during the event. They worked to educate business professionals about available tools and resources and provided information on how to obtain assistance with the procurement process.

Dr. Ruthie Reynolds, executive director of the Entrepreneurship and Economic Development Center at Tennessee State University, welcomed small business representatives to the Avon Williams Campus and briefly talked about the university’s continued support for small business.

After Reynolds remarks, Lt. Col. John L. Hudson, Nashville District commander and Society of American Military Engineers Nashville Post president, also welcomed the small business representatives in attendance.

“Some of you have done business with the federal government in the past, including the Nashville and Louisville Districts, but for many of you federal government procurement is a new process,” Hudson said. “Our objective today is to let you know what tools and assistance are available. And if you are already doing business with federal, state and local governments, hopefully you will learn something new that can help with your business endeavors.”

Hudson then introduced the keynote speaker for the event Medal of Honor recipient Marine Sgt. Dakota Meyer. Meyer, a native of Columbia, Ky., is the first living U.S. Marine in 41 years to have earned the honor.

Meyer thanked Hudson, the Corps and everyone in attendance for providing him the opportunity to speak at the forum. He explained briefly how he enlisted in the Marine Corps, his journey since Sept. 8, 2009, and how he was awarded for heroic actions in Ganjgal, Afghanistan, that rescued 36 U.S. and Afghan troops.

Meyer completed his active duty in 2010 and now serves in the Individual Ready Reserve of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. Since returning to civilian life, Sgt. Meyer is currently the president of Dakota Meyer Enterprises Incorporated and most recently received his first federal contract from the Corps of Engineers.

“It is certainly a great opportunity to come here, network, and meet so many good people,” said Meyer. “Business is about people and people working together.”

Meyer talked about challenges of cultures, learning to put aside differences and using his learned military communication skills to forge relationships in business.

Following his speech, Hudson provided an overview of the district’s projects and contracting opportunities.

Participants then asked questions, and spent time networking and meeting with contracting and government representatives in booths just outside of the TSU auditorium.

Roy Rossignol, Nashville District Small Business manager, said the Society of American Military Engineers and Tennessee Small Business Development Center sponsored the event to enable small businesses opportunities with USACE and to network with USACE experts.

“We are very happy with this year’s turnout and excited to have Sgt. Meyer motivate and speak to us about business,” said Rossignol.

The businesses that attended met with vendors, networked with other businesses, interacted with government agencies, and picked topics of interest during three breakout training sessions throughout the forum.

Molly Malone, a representative from the Parent Company, a commercial and industrial subcontract based in Nashville, Tenn., said her company has not done business with the federal government and values events like this training seminar that helps unlock processes and provides a forum for networking with potential subcontracts and potential clients.

“This is a great environment and forum to network with other businesses and events like this provide avenue for us,” said Malone.

Malone said she had the opportunity to hear, meet and talk with Meyer at the event and it was the highlight of the forum.

“How cool is that? To meet a Medal of Honor winner and network too,” said Malone.

 

 

 

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 Expert Helps Promote Importance of Mobile Learning in Higher Education at UN International Conferences

Dr. Nicole Kendall
Dr. Nicole Kendall

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – A Tennessee State University expert on higher education online training and consulting just returned from Europe where she participated in two mobile-learning conferences sponsored by the United Nations.

Dr. Nicole M. Kendall, an associate professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning, took part in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s Mobile Learning Week in Paris Feb. 16-21, where participants explored how mobile technologies can meet the needs of educators and help them improve their effectiveness.

Under the theme, “Empowering teachers with technology,” the UNESCO Mobile Learning Week, called MLW 2014, considered the benefits and challenges associated with mobile learning, such as ensuring equity of device, online safety, limited mobile –friendly content, and the need for teacher training.

Kendall said the conferences provided a positive spotlight on the global desire to implement what she called m-learning initiatives.

“The U.S. is at an advantage (in m-learning) in that its application of mobile learning is beyond cellular devices and includes tablets, gadgets, and intricate standards to support teaching and curriculum development,” she said. “It (the conference) further positions higher education institutions to model m-learning measures that would attract international and millennial students.”

Following her weeklong stay in Paris, Kendall went onto to Madrid, Spain from Feb. 28 – March 2, for UNESCO’s Mobile Learning 2014 International Conference, where she joined other participants in discussions on how to develop mobile learning research that illustrates developments in the field.

Kendall, a former online mentor and instructor for the Tennessee Board of Regents Online Degree Program, described the Madrid conference as “research-centered on the impact of mobile learning” on teaching and learning.

“It is refreshing to see aspects of legal, culturally social and, instructional commonalities that countries are facing with the use of mobile learning,” Kendall said, adding, “It supports the need for a strategic plan at all levels so that student retention and instructional effectiveness is not compromised.”

Dr. Kendall, who returned home recently, also serves as a senior member of the National Education Association’s Content Quality and Review Board, which recommends online professional development courses to the NEA Academy.

 

 

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 Receives More Than $2.6 Million Grant for Research, Teaching, Extension

Dr. Ahmad Aziz, associate professor of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, carries on an experiment with graduate assistant Abdul Mujeed Yakubu, in his lab. Dr. Aziz received a teaching grant for his research on bio-energy/biofuel and natural resources. (courtesy photo)
Dr. Ahmad Aziz, associate professor of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, carries on an experiment with graduate assistant Abdul Mujeed Yakubu, in his lab. Dr. Aziz received a teaching grant for his research on bio-energy/biofuel and natural resources. (courtesy photo)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Coming on the heels of a soon-to-be dedicated multi-million dollar, state-of-the-art biotechnology center, agricultural research, extension and teaching at Tennessee State University have received a major boost with new funding from the federal government.

On Wednesday, Feb. 26, the University received a $2.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to support capacity-building endeavors.

The amount was part of 76 grants totaling $35 million awarded to 21 Historically Black Colleges and Universities or 1890 institutions to support research, teaching and extension activities through the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture program.

This achievement for TSU is the result of the success of six grant proposals submitted by faculty members or project directors and their collaborators in the College of Agriculture, Human and Natural Sciences, in addition to funding received for NIFA programs.

In the last four year, TSU has been one of the leading 1890 grantees, usually ranking in the top three spots. This year is no different, with University officials and students expressing their excitement about the institution’s success rate.

“We are quite pleased with the success of our faculty in garnering these USDA funds to build our Ag program,” said Dr. Chandra Reddy, dean of CAHNS. “These funds help to build capacity in new areas of agricultural research, teaching and outreach, as well as help in remodeling and building research facilities.”

Alison Leathers, a graduate student in Agricultural Education, Leadership and Extension from Preston, Minn., described the new funding along with the upcoming biotechnology center as “positives” that will enhance learning in new areas of research and awareness.

“I think the new money and building will certainly help to expand the amount of knowledge and expertise we have in the college by having more labs and more equipment that will help my fellow students and me,” Leathers said.

In announcing the grants Wednesday, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the goal was to build on efforts that foster strong partnerships with the 1890 community, ensure equal access to USDA programs and services, and support educational opportunities for the next generation of farmers and ranchers.

“For nearly 125 years, the 1890 land-grant institutions have played a vital role in ensuring access to higher education and opportunity for underserved communities,” said Secretary Vilsack. “These competitively-awarded grants support high quality research, teaching and Extension activities and support the continued leadership of 1890 institutions in the fields of agriculture, the environment and public health.”

Faculty members (or project directors) who led the proposal submissions that resulted in the research, teaching and Extension grant awards, and their research focus are:

  • Dr. Karla Addesso, assistant professor of Chemical Ecology – Sustainable agriculture – $299,751 (Research)
  • Dr. Dafeng Hui, assistant professor of Biological Sciences – Bio-energy/biofuel and natural resources; Global climate change – $299,874 (Research)
  • Dr. Fur-Chi Chen, associate professor of Food Science – Food Safety – $299,999 (Research)
  • Dr. George Smith, assistant professor of Landscape Architecture – Water quality – $249,797 (Extension)
  • Dr. Janice Emerson, associate professor and director of the Center for Prevention Research – Childhood Obesity – $248,886 (Extension)
  • Dr. Ahmad Aziz, associate professor of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences – Bio-energy/biofuel and natural resources – $150,000 (Teaching)

Additionally, TSU received about $1.1 million NIFA award through the 1890 Facilities Grant Program, with Dr. Reddy as the PI. The fund will be used to remodel the Ferrell Westbrook Building with new laboratories for recently hired agricultural faculty.

 

 

 

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 Communications Chair Wins National Broadcast Education Award

Likes 2010
Dr. Terry Likes is the recipient of 43 awards during his career including other honors from the National Broadcasting Society and the National Press Club.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – The national awards among faculty competing in the Broadcast Education Association have been released and the Chair of the Department of Communications at Tennessee State University, Dr. Terry Likes, has won the “Best of Competition” award in the Faculty Audio Competition category.

Likes won for his report, “It Was 50 Years Ago…The Beatles:  Legacy,” which documents how it has been 50 years since the Beatles first arrived in the United States.

The report, aired on the Tennessee Radio Network in October, looks back at the music of the Beatles, the impact, their significance here in Music City, and their legacy.  The report may be found online at http://youtu.be/bjBVGSKBFeY.

“Creative activity aids what we do in the classroom,” said Likes.   “When students can see professors remain active in the industry and achieve at a high level, professors can, in turn, encourage students to seek excellence in their own student competitions.”

The BEA Festival of Media Arts is an international exhibition of award-winning faculty and student works.  This year’s winners will receive recognition and exhibition of their works during the BEA’s annual convention in Las Vegas in April.

This is the 10th BEA award for Likes.  He won the Award of Excellence in 2012 and 2013, the Best of Competition in 2005 and 2010, and the Best of Festival in 2003 and 2008, which followed his second place winning in 2007 for the same award. In 2005, Likes won his first Best of Competition award, as well as two BEA First Place awards in 1999. He has also won six regional Edward R.  Murrow awards and 17 KY/TN Associated Press awards.  He is the recipient of 43 awards during his career including other honors from the National Broadcasting Society and the National Press Club.

Since joining TSU in 2008, Likes has won 29 awards or honors while his students have won 36 awards from the TN Associated Press, Society of Professional Journalists, Southeast Journalism Conference and National Broadcasting Society.

 

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 Mourns the Loss of John Barnhill

John Barnhill
John Barnhill

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU Sports Information) – Today, the Tennessee State family mourns the loss of John Barnhill, one of the greatest basketball players to compete at the University.

John Barnhill was the point guard on TSU’s NAIA 1957-59 National Championship Teams and he assisted legendary TSU alum Dick Barnett on many of his buckets. Barnhill was good around the basket too, tallying 1,253 points during his career as a Tiger.

Barnhill’s career point number ranks him 19th all-time, which is quite impressive considering the hundreds of Tigers that have played at TSU since the 62 years since he retired.

Barnhill’s ability around the bucket and the publicity of the titles made professional teams take note of him.

In 1959, the NBA’s St. Louis Hawks took a chance on Barnhill with their 11th round draft pick.

Barnhill played an average of 21 quality minutes per game for the Hawks, and tallied 8.5 points per game.

A few years later, in 1966, the Chicago Bulls were set to join the NBA. The Bulls liked what they saw from Barnhill and gained the rights to draft the guard from Barnhill’s old team.

Barnhill never played for the Bulls, as the Baltimore Bullets bought his rights from Chicago. Barnhill averaged eight points per contest with the Bullets, causing him to get drafted by the NBA’s newest team- the San Diego Rockets.

Barnhill averaged 13 points and four assists per game during his NBA career.

Following his playing career, Barnhill was an NBA assistant coach for the Los Angeles Lakers, assisting Bill Sharman; he acted as the Lakers’ interim coach during the 1974-75 season, while Sharman’s wife was ill with cancer.

Barnhill eventually ended his career with the Indiana Pacers of the ABA in 1972, and was inducted into the Tennessee State Sports Hall of Fame in 1983.

He will be remembered as a student, player, leader, champion and a Tiger. Barnhill was 75.

 

 

 

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.

‘Race’ comes to Tennessee State University Nov. 7-10

Play tackles controversial issues of rape, sex and race

   

race-poster-3-biggerNashville, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – “Race,” the latest play from Pulitzer and Tony Award-winning playwright David Mamet, makes it debut Nov. 7-10 at Tennessee State University, and will explore the questions of rape, sex and race.

Produced by the Theatre Department at TSU, the play will take place in the Cox-Lewis Theatre of the Performing Arts Center. Admission is free, however, “Race” contains adult language and is recommended for mature audiences.

Mamet’s play, which opened in December 2009 on Broadway and ran for just under 300 performances, tackles America’s most controversial topic in a provocative tale of sex, guilt and bold accusations. The story focuses on three attorneys, two black and one white, who grapple with evidence to defend a white man charged with a crime against a black woman, as well as their own personal feelings about race. The play features ethnic one-liners about guilt and shame that will provide fuel for the post-performance discussions.

“Race” playwright David Mamet is a two-time Oscar nominee, director, essayist, novelist and poet who has been a force in American theater since 1976. His works include “American Buffalo,” “Glengarry Glen Ross,” “Speed-the-Plow” and “Oleanna.” Mamet has also won acclaim for numerous screenplays, including “The Verdict” and “Wag the Dog” (both nominated for the Academy Award for Best Screenplay), as well as “The Postman Always Rings Twice” and “The Untouchables.”

The play premiered in the Ethel Barrymore Theatre in 2009, featuring renowned actors Kerry Washington, James Spader, David Alan Grier and Richard Thomas. “We decided to bring this shocking play home to our campus to give our community an opportunity to discuss the continual issues of race in the U.S.,” said play director, Marc Payne.

Performances take place Nov. 7-9, at 7 p.m., and Sunday, Nov. 10, at 3 p.m. Discussions will be held immediately following each performance and reservations should be made in advance by visiting eventbrite.com (Go to “Race” – the play at Tennessee State University, and register for each night with e-mail addresses).

For more information, contact Arianna Petty at pettya@goldmail.etsu.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.

Return to Hale Stadium Adds Extra Flair to 101st Spring Commencement

The Reverend Jesse Jackson (center) congratulates Mr. TSU, Sidney Johnson (left) and Miss TSU, Danicia Hays on their successful graduation. Jackson delivered the 101st commencement address to more than 1,200 graduates May 11, 2013 at Hale Stadium. (Photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)
The Reverend Jesse Jackson (center) congratulates Mr. TSU, Sidney Johnson (left) and Miss TSU, Danicia Hays on their successful graduation. Jackson delivered the 101st commencement address to more than 1,200 graduates May 11, 2013 at Hale Stadium. (Photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

“Keep Hope Alive,” Jesse Jackson Tells Graduates

 

NASHVILLE, Tenn.  (TSU News Service) – The return to Hale Stadium Saturday in a large part contributed to the massive celebration that accompanied TSU’s 101st spring commencement when more than 1,200 graduates walked across the huge stage to receive their degrees.

Seeing the graduates’ faces in digital displays projected on two massive jumbotron screens as they receive their diplomas from TSU President, Dr. Glenda Glover and commencement speaker, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, gave parents, relatives and friends an extra thrill from the packed Hale Stadium.

Maria Ann Randall, 66, who came from Indianapolis to watch her niece, Melissa Walker, receive her degree in Arts and Sciences, said she was extra excited to be able to “actually see and hear Melissa’s name from way up in the stadium as the President gave her the degree.”

“This is really great and a good investment, and makes a proud moment even more meaningful,” said Randall, who was obviously surprised that this was the first time in more than 30 years a graduation was taking place at the stadium. “You all should do this more often.”

For Jackson, the civil rights icon, it was all business. The graduates needed to be reminded about what was expected of them, the challenges those before them faced, the possibilities that lie ahead, and making education more affordable.

“The American dream, which you pursue, is one big net, we are all in it and no one is out,” said Jackson. “The challenge is for all of us to renew our commitment and lift America from the bottom up, not just from the top down.”

Saying that there was too much wealth at the top while the middle class sank, Jackson acknowledged the current economic recovery, but added, “It is from the top down, not from the bottom up.”

“People are struggling to make ends meet; opportunities are getting fewer. As you leave from here there are some of you who will go home instead of going to work. But you must not surrender. Go out and look for more jobs and more education,” Jackson said.

Last semester, a significant number of the students, about 16,000 from HBCUs, were casualties of the federal government’s new and tighter rules governing Parent Plus Loans used by thousands of parents to help pay college costs. HBCUs lost about $166 million in Plus Loans because fewer parents were eligible to receive the government funding. TSU lost $1.6 million.

Jackson, who in the 60s marched along side Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., in the fight for freedom, sees this “discrepancy” as another roadblock or government “ploy” to deny minority access to quality education.

“After 50 years since the March on Washington led by Dr. King, today, we are freer but still less equal,” said Jackson, the two-time former presidential contender, and founder and CEO of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, a multi-issue social justice organization. He referred to the “immoral war” in Iraq, violence and hate as reasons behind the inequality.

He reminded the graduates about TSU’s contribution to education for Blacks and the institution’s role in the struggle for equality.

“This was a hotbed of activity for talent,” Jackson said of TSU. “It is a monument to our struggle that we made the New South new. Segregation was more than skin deep. It was bone marrow deep and 50 years later, we’re freer but less equal.”

Asking the graduates and the audience to join him in chanting his famous “Keep Hope Alive” line, Jackson challenged the graduating class not to give up when faced with adversities.

“It is not where you came from or who you come from, but where you are going with what you have. No one here knows what you will be tomorrow, but keep hope alive,” he added, citing the 1968 Memphis, Tenn., uprising, when Dr. King went to support African-American sanitation workers who were striking for equal pay and for a union.

“Mr. (Henry) Baskin, your President, Dr. Glover’s father, was a garbage worker who, as a sanitation supervisor, was a leader in that march. So, from the daughter of a garbage worker to President of university – anything is possible, you only have to be determined. Don’t surrender; keep hope alive.”

In addressing her first commencement class since becoming president in January, Dr. Glover congratulated the graduates for their achievement, and thanked their parents, relatives and friends for the support.

“These students are out here today to celebrate their achievements because of you,” Dr. Glover said. “They could not have made it without you nudging them on and giving them the kind of support they need to be successful.”

The President, who called Jackson a friend, thanked the civil rights leader for his contribution to the movement for justice. She talked days earlier about the appropriateness of Jackson’s participation in the commencement and his speech to the students because 2013 marks 50 years since one of the civil rights movement’s defining moments.

“Since it is the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, since [Rev. Jackson] is a notable icon of the entire civil rights movement, I thought it was just proper for him to encourage the students,” Glover said. “That march was about employment and economics, the same issues that graduates are confronting today. Fast-forward 50 years and we have Rev. Jackson to talk to us.”

 

 

 

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.

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.