Summer camp teaches high school students how to fly, build drones

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – High school students participating in a summer program at Tennessee State University are not only learning how to fly a drone, but build one.

Drone pilot and program instructor Wendy Jackson-Dowe, a TSU alum, gives some final direction to student McKenna Harris before flight. (photo by Lucas Johnson, TSU Media Relations)

The initiative is part of a one-week pre-college program at TSU that seeks to encourage high school students to consider STEM careers. Last year, students learned how to design and build an app.

“This year, we decided to do something very innovative,” says College of Engineering Dean Dr. S. Keith Hargrove, who’s been recognized nationally for his contributions as a STEM educator. “And so we have a curriculum whereby students learn to fly a drone, as well as build one.”

About 20 students are enrolled in the summer camp, which runs from July 9-13. A person can become a licensed drone pilot as young as 16.

“It’s estimated there’ll be between 10,000 to 20,000 job opportunities for certified drone pilots over the next several years,” adds Hargrove, “and getting kids excited about this at this early age is an opportunity for them to consider.”

Drone built by students. (photo by Lucas Johnson, TSU Media Relations)

The summer drone program was developed by Wendy Jackson-Dowe, a TSU mechanical engineering graduate. She says in just the last five years, drones have become a $127 billion industry.

“Drones are going to be so important to the future,” says Jackson-Dowe. “So I thought it would be great to introduce young people to this burgeoning industry by way of a hands-on camp.”

According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, Jackson-Dowe says the top three verticals right now in a global environment are infrastructure, agriculture and logistics, all of which drones play a part.

Student participants and instructors in drone summer camp. (photo by Lucas Johnson, TSU Media Relations)

“All of those areas touch all of us every day,” she says.

McKenna Harris, a freshman at Sycamore High School in Pleasant View, Tennessee, says the camp has her considering a career in the drone industry.

“I was planning to be like a vet or zoologist, but drones are really cool,” says Harris. “They’re changing the world.”

To learn more about TSU’s College of Engineering, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/engineering/

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

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

TSU President’s Scholarship Offer Opens Doors for Student Set on Making A Difference in the Medical Field

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – When Folusho Elijah Micah was asked to introduce TSU President Glenda Glover at a church event, he made an impression that has undoubtedly changed his life.

“After the introduction, she thanked me and said, ‘That was really nice and very special. You are the kind of young man I’d like to see at TSU,’” recalls Micah. “Right there, standing in front of the church, she offered me a full ride to TSU. My mom started crying and I was crying, the whole church was screaming; it was really a special moment.”

Folusho Elijah Micah

Micah, a second-year biology major at Tennessee State University, says he’s interested in the field of medicine, particularly care for children. He says his love for children led him to start babysitting for family members in the neighborhood.

“I love medicine and have so much passion working with kids, I thought, ‘what can I do to take these areas that I love so much and put them together? Become a doctor,’” says Micah, a Nashville native and graduate of Hume-Fogg High School.

He is well on his way to fulfilling his dream. At TSU, Micah maintains a near 4.0 grade point average,  and has been on the Dean’s List every semester. Additionally, he just completed his first summer in the Meharry BS/MD program, a pre-med initiative that connects Meharry Medical College with TSU and other historically black colleges and universities.

With good behavior and good grades in high school, college was always on Micah’s mind, but he was concerned about the financial burden it would put on his parents.

“Every time I listened, the cost of going to college was going up and I knew that would put a big strain on my parents when the time came,” says Micah, the second of three children. “It just bothered me.”

Micah’s fortune would soon change, thanks to a chance meeting with President Glover. Micah is a youth leader and summer camp counselor at Corinthian Missionary Baptist Church, where the TSU president was scheduled to speak. The pastor, the Rev. Enoch Fuzz, picked Micah to introduce Glover.

The soon-to-graduate-high-school senior says he went home and researched “all I could find on the President,” and prepared his introduction.

He says he’s extremely grateful to Glover for the scholarship.

“She took that stress off me when she offered me that scholarship,” says Micah. “That’s something I will forever be grateful for.”

Micah’s coming to TSU fulfills a special goal for Glover’s vision to move the university to another level of excellence. In 2016, the President announced sweeping changes that raised admission standards to attract the best and brightest. Minimum requirement for incoming freshmen went up from a 2.25 GPA to 2.5, while the ACT score remained at 19. The goal is to strategically recruit a millennial generation of high achieving students to improve retention and graduation rates.

The semester following Glover’s announcement, school officials said Micah’s class of 2021 came in as one of the most academically qualified classes in the school’s history, with an average 3.07 GPA. It was also the largest incoming freshman class in school history – 1,500 first-year students – a 17 percent increase over the previous year’s freshman enrollment.

At TSU, Micah says the “family” atmosphere has been very encouraging and has helped him to adjust to his new environment.

“At first it was tough adjusting because all of my friends had gone to other schools. I kind of felt alone,” says Micah. “I really started to get happy here when I started to get closer with my professors and my peers. I think that’s something really nice about TSU that I would not have gotten somewhere else. Once I found my footing, I was extremely happy.”

Micah, who has not yet decided where he will go to medical school, says he was also concerned about the declining number of African- Americans in the medical field.

Studies show that despite efforts by medical schools to increase diversity among applicants, the number of black men have remained stagnant for nearly 40 years. In 1978, 1,410 black men applied to U.S. medical schools. In 2014, that number was 1,337, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.

Micah aims to change that static for black men.

“We have to get our number up,” he says. “I think the biggest thing is that we need more resources and more influencers in place for our young men to look and have something they can strive for. I think by pursuing a career in medicine – even though I am just one person – this will help for the better. Once I have made it into and out of medical school, I can then reach back into my community and pull some kids out.”

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

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

Minnesota Native Says Quality Faculty and Beautiful Campus Attracted Her to TSU Graduate School

 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University wasn’t on Jeff and Julie Palm’s radar when they initially made the 12-hour trek from Millville, Minnesota to Nashville, Tennessee. Their daughter Katie was looking to pursue her doctorate degree in physical therapy at one of the state’s premiere universities. However, after an unpleasant touring experience, the Palms found the perfect graduate school atmosphere for their daughter at TSU.

“When we did a tour down here a year and a half ago, it was Spring Break, and there were no students on campus. We talked to the office staff worker, and she took us to three different professors who were doing their work, and they were all like, ‘Oh, come on in and sit down,’ ” said Julie Palm, who works as a licensed practical nurse in Minnesota. “All three professors were just so nice and explained everything to us, and I think that is part of the reason we fell in love with TSU.”

Katie Palm

Katie Palm, who earned her bachelor of science degree in Health Sciences from the University of Minnesota Rochester, started her journey at TSU this summer. She said she loves the campus and is excited about being a TSU Tiger.

“I love the values that TSU has. At Rochester, there was an open door policy where students could approach a professor and ask them any question at any time, and the physical therapy program at TSU also has that open door policy,” she said. “That’s one of the things I’ve become accustomed to, and I’m glad they have that here.”

Dr. Alex Sekwat, associate dean of the Graduate School, said getting accepted into TSU’s DPT program in Physical Therapy is no small feat.

“The physical therapy program is a very competitive program. Gaining entrance to it is a little difficult because the demand is high,” said Sekwat. “Typically, in a given admissions cycle, the program attracts close to 300 applicants, and out of that only 36 are offered admissions. So it is very selective.”

Sekwat said the Ph.D. in Physical Therapy is just one of many advanced degrees offered by the Tennessee State University Graduate School.

“We provide diverse programming, ranging from health sciences, business, government, education, engineering, agriculture and liberal arts,” he said. “We have programs for any student who is looking for what is mainstream. Not to mention that we offer 24 master’s degree programs, seven doctoral degree programs, and up to eight graduate certificate programs.”

According to Sekwat, TSU offers a mixed-range of full-time programs for traditional students and non-traditional students who come part-time like working adults as well as students who can only attend classes online. He said new technology being implemented by the graduate school will provide upcoming students with a smoother application process.

“We are in the process of bringing on board a totally online application system, whereby there will be no paperwork involved,” Sekwat said. “With that we are hoping that beginning next semester, new students will have a completely different experience because everything will be at their fingertips. They won’t have to send us any paper. Everything will be processed online. Classes will be uploaded online, letters of recommendation online, statement of purpose online, test scores and so on. That is one of the most exciting things I see coming.”

Palm, who plans to stay in Tennessee after she earns her Ph.D., said she intends to use her expertise to eventually work with children. Her father, Jeff, who works as a machinist, said he is proud of Katie’s accomplishments, and they are excited about her attending the university.

“I am very proud of her just like my wife,” he said. “Katie excels in everything she does. She’s great with everything, and we are very supportive of her.”

For more information about the Tennessee State University Graduate School, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/graduate/.

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

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

Felicia Taylor Pursues Doctorate in Education, Continues Family Legacy

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – After completing her undergraduate degree in agricultural sciences at Tennessee State University, Felicia Taylor took an internship with the agricultural extension service in West Tennessee. Her career path seemed to be set, until she started working with youth in the 4-H program.

Felicia Taylor

“Going to 4-H camp and working with the students is what inspired me to want to go into education and to teach. So I came back to TSU, and I majored in education, with a concentration in administration and supervision,” she said.

Taylor, who was born in Tennessee but reared in New Orleans, said her journey as an educator started by working as a substitute teacher.

“I was a substitute teacher for two years while working on my master’s degree. While I was an interim sub, a teacher at one of the schools where I was subbing didn’t return,” said Taylor, who is currently a doctoral student pursuing her Ed.D. in curriculum and instruction at TSU. “The principal asked me if I wanted the job. I said yes, and so I have been at my school, DuPoint Hadley, the entire time, since 1999.”

After noticing the low literacy rate of students in Tennessee, Taylor, who has an Ed.S. in administration, set her sites on helping students become better readers.

“My goal ultimately is to do curriculum development and even work on a collegiate level as well,” she said. “Being an educator and a literacy teacher, I am able to see some of those deficiencies that students have, and I am looking to help develop a curriculum to address some of the issues that the students are facing.”

Taylor said a great deal of her research focuses on helping students with reading across all content areas. She said Dr. Clara Young, professor and department chair for Teaching and Learning in the College of Education, has been instrumental in providing students like her with the support necessary to make progress on her dissertation while teaching full-time.

Young, who has worked in higher education for nearly 24 years, said she sees Taylor as a committed and enthusiastic educator who can make a meaningful contribution to higher education.

“The fact that she has been a teacher for 20 years, in addition to completing this degree, will better equip her to move into higher education to become a teacher educator and to actually teach people how to become teachers. So this will definitely be an opportunity for her,” Young said. “She can bring her experience to future teachers, and I think that will be really important.”

According to Taylor’s sister, Leah Dupree, education has always been central in their family.

Felicia’s father, Eric Dupree, oversees the family’s Century Farm in Alamo, Tennessee.(submitted photo)

“Education has always been very important. It wasn’t, ‘Are you going to college?’ or,  ‘Are you going to school?’ It was, ‘Where are you going?’ It was never an option for us,” said Dupree, a TSU graduate and director of Legislative Services for the Tennessee Department of General Services. “It was just a way of life, and most of the people in our family have multiple degrees because we truly value education, but we also value the service.”

Taylor and Dupree, both members of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., credit their father, Eric Dupree, who oversees the family’s Century Farm in Alamo, Tennessee, for having a great influence on their academic pursuits.

“My father was definitely an influence on my career. He is also an educator, and he just encouraged me to always make a difference in the lives of people and students if I could,” Taylor said.

Dupree, who also serves as vice president of the accounting board for the TSU College of Business, described her sister as a “phenomenal teacher who connects with her students.”

“Her personality is just so vibrant, and I know TSU is probably the reason for so much of that. Some of the connections she made, the mentors that she still has today, came from TSU, and I just hope that people know how much she loves TSU, she loves her community, and she loves education,” Dupree said.

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

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