Tag Archives: Alumni

Nashville’s First African-American Public Defender To Hold Swearing-In Ceremony at TSU

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University Alum Martesha L. Johnson will be sworn in as the first African-American to serve as the Metropolitan Public Defender for Nashville-Davidson County next week.

Johnson, who was officially elected on Aug. 2 and will take office on September 1, said she decided it was time for her to seek the position when Dawn Deaner, Nashville’s current Public Defender, announced that she would not seek another term.

Martesha Johnson

The swearing-in ceremony will take place on Tuesday, Aug. 28, at 6 p.m. in the Walter S. Davis Humanities Building at TSU. It represents the crowning achievement of years of service Johnson has given since she set her sites on being a public defender when she served as an intern with the Nashville Public Defenders Office in 2007.

“It was during that summer internship that I sort of decided, that’s exactly what I want to do! I knew that I had an interest in criminal law. I knew that I had an interest in being a trial lawyer. I learned that I was passionate about those things while I was at Tennessee State,” she said. “So when I had the internship in 2007, it sort of changed the course of what I wanted to do as a lawyer, and I immediately knew then I wanted to be a public defender.”

Johnson performed as a member of the Tennessee State Aristocrat of Bands Sophisticated Ladies Dance Line during her undergraduate years at TSU.

After graduating Summa Cum Laude from TSU in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and a minor in English, Johnson immediately transitioned to law school at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville where she graduated in 2008.

With her heart set on working in the Nashville Public Defenders Office, the newly licensed attorney met with the harsh reality that no new jobs were available at the office because of a hiring freeze caused by the economic recession.

“I made a decision that I was going to volunteer my services as a licensed attorney at the Nashviille office, and I did that,” said Johnson, who began volunteering in August 2008 and worked nights at Macy’s to support her career. Johnson’s determination paid off when Deaner offered her a position in January 2009, and she hasn’t looked back.

Since then Johnson has spent almost a decade serving Nashville by defending people who are accused of crimes but do not have the resources needed to hire an attorney.

“This job has been everything that I thought it would be. It is a great feeling to know that I really get to get up every single day to help people and advocate for people who need it the most,” she said. “My clients are poor. They have sometimes experienced trauma in their lives. They suffer from addictions, and a lot of things that contribute to their need to have a lawyer to represent them. I get to help them navigate through a system that is not always kind to poor people.”

Johnson with Retired TSU Assistant Professor of Pre-Law Julian W. Blackshear

Retired TSU Assistant Professor of Pre-Law Julian W. Blackshear said Johnson showed great promise during her undergraduate years at TSU.

“She stood out as being ambitious.   She really wanted to learn. She had a purpose for being in class. She soaked in everything I said, and she was hungry for legal knowledge,” said Blackshear, who founded the Pre-Law Department at TSU in 1975. “My standard quote to her all the time was ‘Succeed in spite of your obstacles, rather than fail because of them.’”

Johnson’s mother, Jacqueline Johnson, said MarTesha’s success serves as a source of inspiration for their entire family.

“This is one of the proudest moments not only for me personally but for my family as a whole. Martesha has always been very focused and very driven and has just excelled at everything she has put her hand to,” said Jaqueline, who earned her bachelor’s degree from TSU in psychology and went on to secure a master’s degree in public administration from the university in 2005, graduating the same day Martesha secured her undergraduate degree.

MarTesha Johnson with her mother, Jacqueline Johnson when the two graduated together from TSU in 2005. MarTesha earned her bachelor’s degree in Pre-Law with a minor in English, and Jacqueline earned her master’s degree in Public Administration.

“As she was growing up, I often used to tell her when I would drop her off at school, ‘Go forth and do well.’ And for me, this election as Public Defender has just been the culmination of her going forth and doing well,” said Jacqueline.

Blackshear said, with the election of Martesha, Davidson County is getting a “person of great character.”

“Martesha’s purpose embraces the notion that all people should be treated fairly, but with the end toward improving individuals to build people up rather than tearing them down. That’s the kind of person she is,” he said. “She is just one example of the many great students at Tennessee State University.”

 

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 8,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

 

Candlelight Vigils for TSU Alum Maleka Jackson Held Across The Nation

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Friends and family of Tennessee State University alum Maleka Grimes Jackson gathered on TSU’s campus July 8 to remember the young mother who was recently killed in a boating accident in the Bahamas.

Jackson, a Chattanooga native who lived in Atlanta, graduated from TSU in 2000 with a degree in liberal arts and sciences. She and her husband, Tiran, were on vacation celebrating their 15-year wedding anniversary at the time of the accident.

A member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Jackson was known by her line sisters in the Alpha Psi Chapter as “the glue that held them together.”

“She made sure that whenever we came together, whether at homecoming or at an event in Atlanta, that we stayed together,” said Sharese Jackson, a graduate of TSU who pledged AKA with Maleka as part of the “Y2KUTE” line in the fall of 1999. “We are in the process of planning our 20th anniversary, and she was one of the first people to say, ‘What are we going to do? It will be 20 years next year. We need to do this. We need to do that.’ She kept us connected.”

Though the two Jacksons were not blood sisters, Sharese, a professional singer and actress, shared reflections at the candlelight vigil as well as sang an original song called Hero in honor of her “line sister” Maleka.

“She was a really sweet person. She was a person who wanted to make sure you were always at your best,” Sharese said. “She worked in human resources, and she was the one that people could go to if they had a question about what to do as far as looking for jobs and how to stay relevant. She was always ready to give that information, and always willing to help.”

The Bahamas explosion, which took place on June 30, injured nine other passengers including Tiran, who suffered severe injuries that resulted in an amputation.

Lawanda Jones, who has known Maleka and Tiran since their days at TSU, said the last communication she had with Makela was through a text message conversation they shared on Jones’ birthday, four days before Jackson died.

Members of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority honored Makela Jackson with a candlelight vigil in Houston while attending the sorority’s international conference. (Photo submitted)

“She had sent me a text to tell me happy birthday. For me it was the most beautiful piece of closure when I realized she had passed just days later because in my text message to her I was thanking her for being such a close friend over the last 18 years,” said Jones, also a member of AKA and the “Y2KUTE” line. “I was just telling her I was blessed to have her as a friend, and how much I loved her, and she responded back similarly. She was just saying how proud of me she was, and she ended by saying, ‘We are forever friends,’” Jones said.

Jones, who recently attended the AKA’s international conference in Houston, helped to organize a vigil there which coincided with the event at TSU. She said other vigils honoring Maleka were held simultaneously in Memphis, Tennessee; Charlotte, North Carolina; Dallas and Atlanta.

“There’s going to be a long road ahead for Tiran and their son. Tiran

Sorority sisters gather at candlelight vigil in Atlanta to honor Makela Jackson (Photo courtesy of AJC)

is going to face physical and emotional challenges. They are both going to need someone to help them talk this through.,” Jones said.

She encourages people to contribute to the fundraising campaign established to help support Maleka’s family.

“Maleka saw the best in everyone. She was all about her son and her husband. I have no doubt she had big plans for her son to go to school and to further his education. So it’s like giving to someone who always gave back. “

To support the Love for Maleka Jackson and Family campaign, visit https://www.gofundme.com/supportjackson15.

 

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.

Business savvy TSU Alums serving up slices and scholarships with expansion of pizza franchise

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) –Scores of hungry patrons waited patiently for their chance to try a slice of Slim & Husky’s Pizza at the grand opening of its Antioch restaurant on June 19. The new location is a follow up to the successful north Nashville eatery established by three Tennessee State University alums.

Though much larger than the first venue, the new restaurant at 5270 Hickory Hollow Pkwy remained packed with patrons throughout the day.  The new Slim & Husky’s employs more than 100 people and features the art of six local artists.

“It’s been great man.  Since we opened the doors today at 10:30 a.m., we’ve had a line out the door, so it’s been a beautiful experience and opening for us,” said Derrick Moore, one of the three Tennessee State University alums who gained national acclaim in March 2017 when they opened the restaurant’s first location at 911 Buchanan St. in Nashville.

Patrons wait patiently for a taste of Slim & Husky’s Pizza during the venue’s June 19 grand opening commemorating the Juneteenth.

Moore, along with Emmanuel “E.J.” Reed and Clinton Gray III, took their vision of fusing pizza, hip hop and art, and created a thriving brand which will in the upcoming year expand to locations in Wedgwood Houston (Nashville), Nashville International Airport (BNA), the upcoming National Museum of African American Music, and Atlanta.

According to Moore, the trio opted to expand the Slim & Husky’s brand to Antioch to provide more quality food offerings in the area.

“We know that Antioch is underserved when it comes to quality food.  We have a lot of food chains out here, but not a lot of people invest in Antioch in terms of locally–owned restaurants, and so we knew that we would do well out here,” he said.  “Plus, the demographic of Antioch is so diverse.  There are so many people here, so we knew that this would be a great location for them.”

Waiting outside for his chance to experience one of Slim & Husky’s

TSU alum Clyde Poag stands in line anticipating his first slice of Slim & Husky’s Pizza at the new  Antioch location.

many offerings was 1971 TSU Alum and East St. Louis, Illinois native Clyde Poag.  Poag, the stepson of former TSU faculty member and speech and theatre legend Thomas Edward Poag, said his son encouraged him to check out the restaurant.

“My son said go and try it, so I am taking him at his word,” he said. Poag will begin teaching at TSU this fall as an adjunct professor of social work.

As Slim & Husky’s continues to grow, its owners have increased their efforts to promote education by continuing to provide jobs for area youth, as well as scholarships.  Last month, the owners presented scholarships to five former and current employees who, according to the owners, “excelled through academics, athletics and community service.”

Owners of Slim & Husky’s Pizza pose with recipients of five scholarships they presented to local high school students in May including Doneisha Wells (center) who plans to attend TSU.

Moore said they presented additional scholarships to students at an area high school.  He said at least one of the students, Doneisha Wells of East Magnet High School, hopes to attend TSU.

“It’s just something we want to do, because to us, we just don’t want to be one of those companies that come into the community and don’t contribute,” he said.

Wells, who said she would like to have a career in childcare or healthcare,  is excited about the possibilities of attending the university.

“It’s more convenient for me in my situation,” she said. “It’s closer to home, and I love TSU.  I go to every TSU event.”

The Antioch location of Slim and Husky’s is open this week from 10:30 a.m. – 8 p.m.  through Saturday, and beginning next Monday from 10:30 a.m.-11 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 12 p.m. to8 p.m. on Sunday. For more information about the venue, visit slimandhuskys.com.

 

 

TSU’s Aristocrat of Bands prepares for big performance and recruiting in Texas

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Houston, Texas will serve as the backdrop for a special performance by Tennessee State University’s Aristocrat of Bands in July.

TSU’s Aristocrat of Bands

Affectionately known as the AOB, the band will be front and center during the upcoming national conference for Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Members are preparing for a big show, which is extremely important as the natives believe, “everything is bigger in Texas.”

“The Aristocrat of Bands is honored to be invited and have the opportunity to perform for a prestigious audience such as Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated,” said TSU Band Director Dr. Reginald McDonald.  “This performance will also give us exposure in the Houston area. The Aristocrat of Bands Staff started vigorously recruiting the Houston market about three years ago to date,” added McDonald.

Dr. Glenda Glover, TSU’s first female and eighth president, will become the 30th international president of Alpha Kappa Alpha. The service organization is the oldest African American sorority in the country with nearly 300,000 members worldwide, in 1,000 chapters. Glover believes her leadership role with the organization will assist in recruiting talented students to TSU and enhance the university’s presence on a national stage.

“I’m truly humbled by the membership  for electing me to this position, and just as proud to have my institution, and alma mater be  part of the this special moment,” said President Glover. “Our world renowned band is one of the university’s greatest ambassadors. Band members will have center stage in front of nearly 20,000 sorority members and special guests to showcase their talents. The performance will be a proud moment for me and for the institution.”

The band is a part of several performers scheduled for the 68th national conference for the sorority.  Glover noted she was pleased that friends and sponsors made the trip possible. This means the university will not incur costs or be responsible for paying transportation, food or lodging, another major incentive for the band. McDonald said he reminds band members they represent themselves, but most importantly TSU whenever they travel.

“While we are no strangers to being on a national stage, anytime the Aristocrat of Bands has an opportunity to perform anywhere, I always remind my students that the TSU on our chest is bigger than we are.  We represent the dreams and hopes of past, present and future alumni, as well as all of our stakeholders.”

In 2014, the AOB became the first collegiate band ever to be presented at halftime of the NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame game. The band and university made national headlines again in 2017 by accepting a special invitation from President Barack Obama to perform on the White House Lawn. Both President Glover and McDonald believe the presentation in Houston will continue to open more doors for the band and TSU.

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.

Local TSU alumni chapter hosts president and administrators, spurs enhanced partnership

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – A presentation by Tennessee State University President Glenda Glover was the only agenda item for the Nashville Alumni Chapter meeting held Tuesday night in the Floyd-Payne Campus Center in the Robert N. Murrell Forum.

The meeting, which lasted a little over two hours, was led by TSU Nashville Alumni Chapter President Dwight Beard.

“We have to support Dr. Glover.  She has made it clear where she is trying to take the institution,” said Beard, a 1974 TSU alum.  “We as the alumni have to love and support TSU, get involved with the activities, mentor our students and give back to the institution.”

Beard said TSU alums across the nation need to “support the president by motivating students to come to TSU, and not only TSU, but all HBCUs.”

After a brief introduction by Beard, Glover updated local alumni on advancements the university has made in the areas of retention recruitment, enrollment, and marketing.

A little over 100 attendees listened attentively as Glover enthusiastically recounted her personal involvement in recruiting two of Memphis’ top high school seniors, Meaghen Jones and Jayla Woods, whose combined scholarship awards equal close to $19 million.

Glover informed attendees about upcoming changes to the campus landscape, including the addition of a new Health Sciences Building, two new residence halls, the Field Research Organic Laboratory, the Gateway Arch Entrance, a new engineering building and the Alumni House and Welcome Center.

Alumni also learned about a half million dollar gift from the family of the late Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr., that will be used to establish an endowed scholarship fund in honor of the TSU alumnus and renown heart surgeon.

Following the president’s presentation, members of the audience were given an opportunity to ask questions and share their ideas and concerns.

“The meeting was great.  It was an awesome way of updating the alumni regarding the efforts of President Glover and her team to make Tennessee State University the best that it can be,” said Vivian Wilhoite,  a 1987 alumnae of TSU who serves as the Property Assessor for Davidson County.

Wilhoite said she was impressed by what the president is doing to move the university forward.

“It was just wonderful.  It says that we have a vision.  It says that the president has a plan. It says that President Glover is saying, ‘Hey.  Join us. We need you. We appreciate all who have been involved, but we want to reignite the spirit of those people who haven’t been involved by letting them know we have been doing those things you have expected of us to grow our great university.’”

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 Alum Garners National Acclaim With Comedy Series #WeirdMYAH

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – How does a Magna Cum Laude Animal Science/Pre-Veterinary Medicine graduate from one of the nation’s top historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) become an award-winning filmmaker?

That’s a good question for 27-year-old Myah Naomi Lipscomb, a 2013 alumna of Tennessee State University and creator of the comedy series #WeirdMYAH. Lipscomb, along with a host of TSU alums, are garnering national acclaim with their original comedy series, which is currently being featured in the Tennessee Episodic Showcase division of the Nashville Film Festival.

“I feel so blessed, and I am so happy,” said Lipscomb. “I would not have thought when I was working at the animal hospital and not loving it that in just a couple of years I could say that I am doing what I love.”

Members of the #WeirdMYAH cast and crew after winning Best TV Pilot for “#photobomb” at the National Black Film Festival (Houston, Texas) Left to Right: Brandon Lee W., Kelly Keri Greer, Myah Naomi Lipscomb, Jennifer Mkoma, and Lanial D. Madden

#WeirdMYAH, which recently took home the Best TV Pilot Award at the National Black Film Festival in Houston, for its full length episode #photobomb, screens Wednesday, May 16, at 6 p.m. at Regal Hollywood Stadium 27.

In the television comedy, Myah Bridges, portrayed by Lipscomb, is a student at historically black Lloyd University. She struggles to overcome the conflicts in her problematic life, created by the stress of college, lack of income, and her social awkwardness. Overtime, Myah learns to deal with her uniqueness by embracing her individuality, but her quest for normalcy has its obstacles.

Lipscomb and the pilot’s director and cowriter, Kelly Keri Greer, both graduates of TSU, earned MFA’s in Film and Creative Media from Lipscomb University in 2017. The two are just part of a long list of TSU alums involved with the project.

“I think when I first tried to pursue it years ago, it just wasn’t the right season for it,” Lipscomb said. “And I think me going to graduate school and really learning the craft and learning the field, I needed that. Me networking with other filmmakers and actors, I needed that. And all of us together is what has really branded this project into what it is now.”

Greer, a Memphis-native who graduated from TSU with a B.A. in Mass Communications, said the cast and crew of #WeirdMYAH are like a family.

“We are always together, and not only do we work together, we work well together,” she said. “We’re there for long periods of time together on set, but we can actually go and spend our own personal time with one another, so we are really a family, and I think that’s probably the most rewarding part of being a part of this project.”

Greer, like Lipscomb, said attending TSU played a major role in her success.

“We only had one film professor at TSU, Melissa Forte, and she really taught us everything from beginning to end,” Greer said. “We had editing classes with her. We had screenwriting classes with her, and she really taught us the basics of film including production and being your own producer, like being an independent filmmaker. With those tools you really can’t go wrong.”

Lipscomb’s rendezvous with TSU goes back much further. Her grandfather, Dr. Roland Norman, worked at TSU for nearly 40 years, ultimately serving as dean of the College of Agriculture and Home Economics. Her grandmother, Naomi Norman, worked as a nurse in the Queen Washington Student Health Center at TSU throughout her professional career.

Their children, including Myah’s mother, Chandra Norman Lipscomb, grew up on the TSU campus. Myah’s mother eventually attended TSU and became Miss TSU 1979-1980. She worked at the university in various capacities, including teaching in the Department of Communications, serving as a campus administrator, working in the College of Business, and eventually serving as the coordinator of International Student Services and Cultural Programming in the Office of International Affairs before her recent retirement.

As a student at TSU, Myah served as Miss Freshman 2009-2010. She also served on the student government association as representative-at-large and speaker of the house.

An accomplished actress, Norman Lipscomb said she sees a lot of herself in Myah.

“I look at Myah, and a lot of the things she is doing, she got from me. Myah grew up watching me doing my performances and what not, but we never knew she had a desire for the arts or for communications because she would always talk about being a veterinarian,” she said. “To be honest, she was afraid to let her dad and I know that that was the area she wanted because she thought we wanted her to be a veterinarian.”

As a mother, Norman Lipscomb said she sees the hard work her daughter puts into her craft and believes it is the key to her success.

“I personally see what no one else sees. I see Myah getting up to go to the gym at 5 a.m., coming back and working whether it is #WeirdMYAH, editing a project, getting ready to go film a music video, whatever,” she said. “She is working most of the time, and this is like a labor of love for her.“

Myah encourages other young people to pursue their passion.

Myah Naomi Lipscomb – Creator, Executive Producer, Actress, & Editor of #WeirdMYAH

“Whether it’s in film, whatever field you are passionate about, I think you need to follow your passion, and follow your heart, and you’ll get there,” Lipscomb said. “You just need to take that first step and not be afraid.”

Lipscomb said the next step for #WeirdMYAH is to pitch the show to networks and streaming platforms. She hopes to use her journey as a filmmaker to revitalize positive, entertaining content that highlights African Americans.

Other TSU alums involved in the project include the cinematographer, Joseph Patrick; cast and crew members Lanial Madden, Kala Ross, Chelsea Smith Brand Lee W., Asia Jones, Joe Major, Clarke Howard, Evony Thompson and Lauren Waller; and filmmaker Spencer Glover, who also graduated with an MFA from Lipscomb and has worked as a director on the miniseries.

The five episode web-based miniseries of #WeirdMYAH is available online at www.myahnaomi.com/weirdmyah. To purchase tickets for the May 16 screening of the full length episode, #photobomb, visit www.nashvillefilmfestival.org.

 

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.

Internationally Known Vegan Trainer Tay Sweat Among Experts To Greet Public At Health And Wellness Fair at TSU

NASHVILLE, Tenn(TSU News Service) – Certified personal trainer and nutrition coach Tay Sweat knows what it means to fight for his life. At age 15, he weighed 311 pounds and found himself in a constant battle with diabetes and high blood pressure. Afraid he would meet an early death, Sweat decided as a teenager to take control of his health.

“I got rid of my diabetes and my high blood pressure, and from there I started helping others do the same,” said Sweat, who is now an internationally recognized health guru with clients in Australia, Canada and Japan.

Certified personal trainer and nutrition coach Tay Sweat (submitted photo)

Sweat is one of many health, nutrition and fitness experts who will take part in a unique community health and wellness fair this Friday at Tennessee State University from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Kean Hall.

The fair, which is a partnership between TSU, the DP Thomas Foundation for Obesity, Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s HIV Vaccine Program, and the Turnip Truck, will feature more than 40 vendors and give participants opportunities to receive massages, chiropractic care, dental screenings, HIV testing and more.

Sweat, who does 90 to 95 percent of his business online and the remaining with high profile clients like Tennessee Titans players and their wives, is excited about this opportunity to share what he has learned with the general public.

“I want people, when they see me, to see the difference eating a lot of plants can have. But not only that, I want to speak to the people and answer questions,” said Sweat, who lost more than 120 pounds before packing on an additional 25 pounds of muscle using a vegan diet.

Lalita Hodge, TSU coordinator of Public Relations and a member of the DP Thomas Board of Directors, said the purpose of the fair is to keep the community informed about the resources that are available to them.

“You will see some of your traditional vendors there like the YMCA, but you will also see nontraditional healing methods there like coffee enema, the Turnip Truck with their organic produce, and we have healthy lunches that will include organic free-range turkey,” she said.

Hodge said organizers are placing special emphasis on getting senior citizens and college students to participate.

Keith Richardson, community engagement coordinator for the Vanderbilt HIV Vaccine Program, stressed the important of students attending the health fair.

“Students are young and they need to know the importance of health and what it means to take care of themselves,” said Richardson, a 2008 alumnus of TSU. “Maybe they can catch health issues early before things get out of hand as they become adults and just have a good mindset about eating and exercising right, and just taking care of their bodies.”

Dolly Patton-Thomas, executive director of the DP Thomas Foundation for Obesity, said she hopes the event will motivate people to live healthier lives. She said Sweat and Certified Holistic Wellness Coach Karina Hammer are just two of the many vendors she is elated to see continue their participation in the fair, which is in its third year.

“I’m just excited about the health fair, and I hope that all will come out and that we will have people just to gain knowledge about what we have to offer and what is out there for them,” Patton-Thomas said. “When you are given the knowledge, you won’t be blindsided. You can run with it and you can choose what to do.”

For more information about the Community Health and Wellness Fair, call 615-474-1286, or email: dpthomasfoundation@gmail.com.

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.

 

Former TSU Band Member Makes History, Shares Stage with Beyoncé at Coachella

The Coachella Valley Music Festival may have been thousands of miles away from Tennessee State University and Nashville, but that didn’t stop the influence of the Aristocrat of Bands and the cultural sounds of the HBCU band experience from taking center stage at the event on Saturday night.

When mega superstar Beyoncé took the stage, former Tennessee State University band member Michael Jones performed with her as she made history as the first African American woman to headline the musical event. Jones was a part of the band and drumline that provided music for Beyoncé, in what many are calling an iconic performance.

Jones, a Florida native, along with musicians from other historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), including Tennessee State University, Florida A&M University, Alabama State University, Prairie View A&M University, Hampton University, North Carolina A&T State University, Norfolk State University, Bethune-Cookman University, University of Georgia and Kennesaw State University, backed the Grammy Award-winning performer during her nearly two hour performance, which included a reunion performance with Destiny ‘s Child band mates Michelle Williams and Kelly Rowland.

TSU Alum Mike Jones plays sousaphone as a member of DRUMline Live, an international tour based on the Historically Black College and University (HBCU) marching band tradition. Jones along with other members of DRUMline Live performed with Beyoncé at Coachella 2018 on Saturday. (submitted photo)

“This is tremendous exposure for our university and the other HBCUs that had band members perform with Ms. Knowles,” said TSU President Glenda Glover. “Our institutions have a rich history and legacy that many may not be familiar with, but a performance highlighting our cultural presence, with someone the stature of Beyoncé, creates an incredible buzz and interest. We are thankful for her knowledge of our contributions to the fabric of education and the scholarship program she has established specifically for HBCUs.”

The singer’s website issued the release to announce the four schools to receive the newly established Homecoming Scholars Award Program for the 2018-2019 academic year, through her BeyGOOD initiative. The universities include Xavier University, Wilberforce University, Tuskegee University and Bethune-Cookman College. One winner from each school will receive $25,000 for the 2018-2019 academic year for study in various fields. This is the second year for the scholars program created by Ms. Knowles.

Beyoncé’s historic show was the first time the 36-year-old had performed on stage in over a year.  According to a press release on her website, the set was “a celebration of the homecoming weekend experience, the highest display of college pride. The energy-filled production put the spotlight on art and culture, mixing the ancient and the modern, which resonated masterfully through the marching band, performance art, choir and dance.”

Reginald McDonald, TSU associate professor of Music Education and director of Bands, said he was thrilled to see the HBCU band experience shared at Coachella and around the world.

“As an HBCU band director, it is thrilling and exciting to witness our performance style influence pop culture,” he said.  “The admiration and excitement for HBCU bands extend far beyond a football game halftime.”

He cited the TSU Aristocrat of Bands performance at the White House, the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Honda Battle of the Bands and their 2016 performance with Cedric The Entertainer as examples of performances that still garner positive feedback.

Founded in 1999, Coachella is one of the largest, and most profitable music festivals in the world.  It features a mix of popular and established artists with emerging artists from genres of music including pop, rock, indie, hip hop and electronic dance music.

Jones looks to continue his musical odyssey with the iconic superstar as a member of the sousaphones section. A second Coachella performance is scheduled for this weekend.

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 TO HOST COMMUNITY HEALTH AND WELLNESS FAIR

NASHVILLE, Tenn(TSU News Service) – Massages, chiropractic care, dental screenings and HIV testing are just a few of the free services that will be offered at a Community Health and Wellness Fair set for Friday, April 20, at Tennessee State University.

More than 40 vendors with some connection to health care and wellness are expected to participate in this year’s event, which is free to the public.

The fair, which is scheduled to start at 10 a.m. in the university’s Kean Hall on the main campus, is a partnership between TSU, the DP Thomas Foundation for Obesity, Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s HIV Vaccine Program, and the Turnip Truck, a natural foods grocer in Nashville.

One of the main participants is TSU’s Dental Hygiene Department, which will provide intra-oral screenings at the event.

Leon Roberts II, coordinator of clinics for the TSU Dental Hygiene Department, stressed the importance of people from the campus and surrounding communities stopping by their booth to get the screening.

“The mouth is the gateway to the body, so a lot of dental diseases don’t just affect the mouth,” he said. “Periodontal disease is connected to diabetes, heart disease, and for women who are pregnant, it is connected to low-birth weight babies. So it is very important to take care of your oral hygiene because your oral hygiene affects your whole health.”

Among its offerings, the fair will provide information on weight loss management and nutrition, as well as fitness demonstrations and health screenings.

Lalita Hodge, TSU coordinator of Public Relations and a member of the DP Thomas Board of Directors, said the purpose of the event is to keep the community informed about the resources that are available to them.

“You will see some of your traditional vendors there like the YMCA and Walgreens, but you will also see nontraditional healing methods there like coffee enema, the Turnip Truck with their organic produce, and we have healthy lunches which will include organic free-range turkey,” she said.

Dolly Patton-Thomas, executive director of the DP Thomas Foundation for Obesity, said she hopes the event will motivate people to live healthier lives.

“We need doctors. They support us with our health in many ways, and we need them to support us in the health decisions we make as well,” she said. “Still, I think we can help them by taking our health into our own hands on a day to day basis.

This year organizers hope to expand the fair, which is in its third year, by attracting more senior citizens, as well as college students.

Keith Richardson, community engagement coordinator for the Vanderbilt HIV Vaccine Program, stressed the important of students attending the health fair.

“Students are young and they need to know the importance of health and what it means to take care of themselves,” said Richardson, a 2008 alumnus of TSU. “Maybe they can catch health issues early before things get out of hand as they become adults and just have a good mindset about eating and exercising right, and just taking care of their bodies.”

Hodge said many of the vendors provide free samples, as well as contact information so participants can follow up with them for more products and services.

“I’m just excited about the health fair, and I hope that all will come out and that we will have people just to gain knowledge about what we have to offer and what is out there for them,” Patton-Thomas said. “When you are given the knowledge, you won’t be blindsided. You can run with it and you can choose what to do.”

For more information about the Community Health and Wellness Fair, call 615-474-1286, or email: dpthomasfoundation@gmail.com.

 

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.