Tag Archives: Dr. DeEtra Young

TSU students benefit from Regions Bank and Cheekwood Partnership providing summer jobs

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – This summer Tennessee State University is providing paid internships for TSU students thanks to a partnership with Cheekwood Estate and Gardens and Regions Bank.

According to Dr. Chandra Reddy, dean of TSU’s College of Agriculture, these internships are part of the college’s initiative to increase its number of student internships with industry partners.

“This is a great investment by Regions Bank in our students,” said Reddy.  “We place a lot of importance on these internships.  Historically, we used to send a lot of students to the different governmental agencies. Now we are branching out to a lot of industry partners. This summer we have almost forty students across the country in different organizations and companies doing internships.”

Reddy said Regions Bank is providing $25,000 this year for student salaries. 

Daiva Wilson, a senior Agriculture major with a concentration in biotechnology who interned with Cheekwood last summer, said her experience at Cheekwood was eye-opening.

Daiva WIlson

“I’d never been to a botanical garden before, so just seeing the garden was a benefit,” said Wilson, who serves as an intern with USDA this summer.  “Also, I was able to see how the gardeners work with one another. They actually create such a beautiful display for members and people who visit the garden.”

Wilson’s internship at Cheekwood focused on horticulture.  She said she worked with the plant team and had the opportunity to experience the entire Cheekwood garden.  She credits Dr. De’Etra Young, assistant professor of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, with helping her secure the internship.

“The TSU College of Agriculture is really big on students presenting their goals. We have the Dean’s Scholars Program, and students with a 3.0 or higher are partnered with a mentor, which is usually a professor who does research in the lab,” she said. “Dr. Young pretty much says if you are a dean’s scholar, you should have an internship every summer.”

Young said the Cheekwood internships focus on three areas: education, horticulture and aboriculture.

“The role that I play is actually recruiting students and then internally vetting them before we send them over to Cheekwood, and then Cheekwood has their own application and interviewing process,” Young said. “For me, I believe that the experience for our students is hands-on experience that compliments what we are teaching in the classroom.”

Daniel Shaw, a senior Agribusiness major from Lamar, Arkansas, said he enjoys being a summer intern at Cheekwood.

“I am doing maintenance at the garden, like weeding, watering and planting.  Earlier on, we were transitioning from the spring annuals to the summer annuals, and we briefly started doing some plant identification for a daylily collection they have,” he said.

Shaw, who is also considering a career in environmental sciences and was introduced to the opportunity by Young, said he thinks the internship will give him leverage with future employers.

“It shows that you can be committed to something. Hopefully other people are going to be able to see your work ethic and put in a good word for you,” he said.

Shaw and fellow TSU student Jenna Jones, an education major at TSU, began their summer internships at Cheekwood in mid-May and will work through late July. 

TSU students Steve Osborne (left), an Agriculture Sciences major with concentration in Environmental Sciences and Davia Wilson(right), an Agriculture major with a concentration in Biotechnology, with Cheekwood Plant Collections Manager Shanna T. Jones (center) during their summer internship at Cheekwood in 2018.

Although the Cheekwood internship has existed since 2017, it has had multiple funders. This year Regions Bank is playing an instrumental role in the partnership. 

“Regions has longstanding relationships with both Tennessee State University and Cheekwood Botanical Gardens, said Senior VP and Regional Community Development and Partnerships Manager Latrisha Jemison with Regions Bank. “This is an ideal partnership that allows us to invest in a successful program with very talented students. TSU students complete the internship with workforce ready skills and go on to acquire employment in the horticultural profession.”

Reddy said TSU President Glenda Glover initiated the partnership.

“We have been sending out students as interns, and they have been paying the students for internships during the summer and during the regular semester for some time,” he said. “We are interested from an environmental perspective, with regards to botany and understanding the plants.  From their perspective, it is for beauty and environment.” 

He said faculty from the College of Agriculture have also played a role in the partnership.

“Our faculty have been trying to provide technical assistance on some basic things, like how to grow plants hydroponically, and how to take care of the ornamental plants,” he said.  “So there are student internships and faculty support for the public who come to Cheekwood Gardens.”

Peter Grimaldi, vice president of gardens and facilities at Cheekwood, said the internships provide students with an experience that includes a combination of direct service, working in the garden along with Cheekwood’s permanent professional staff, and project-based work.

“Public Horticulture includes the full spectrum of horticulture, and the opportunities at our operation pretty much include bits and pieces of almost any professional opportunity you can seek out in the green industry,” he said. “The interns have been very impressive, the students themselves, and if they are in anyway a representation of the young professionals that TSU is sending out into the workplace and the community, and they are, then that’s something the university should be proud of.”

Grimaldi said the botanical garden plans to have two additional internships this fall.

For more information about TSU’s College of Agriculture, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/agriculture/

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

College of Agriculture hosts Environmental Justice Academy

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University’s College of Agriculture recently hosted a program to equip students with the tools to address environmental and public health challenges in their communities.

Eleven students from eight 1890 Land Grant Universities participated in the Environmental Justice Academy March 19-21. Academy participants engaged in a series of virtual and interactive classroom sessions that help shape the principles of an effective Environmental Justice leader.

Courses included environmental law and regulations, community capacity building, strategic partnership and development of replication of best practices.

“I’m glad to collaborate with the US Forest Service and Environmental Protection Agency to pilot the 1890 Environmental Justice Academy,” said Dr. De’Etra Young, assistant professor in the College of Ag. “We’re equipping students to be leaders.”

Besides TSU, participating institutions included: Alcorn University, Florida A&M Law, Fort Valley State University, South Carolina State University, Southern University and A&M College, Tuskegee University, and University of Maryland Eastern Shore.

Participant Brittanii Wade will be finishing law school in Florida A&M in a little over a month and plans to pursue environmental justice.

“Environmental justice ensures that every community, especially minority communities, have clean air, clean water, and clean soil,” said Wade. “I need the tools that they’re teaching so I can apply them at the community level, city level, state level, federal level, whichever direction I go in.”

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

NOTE: Feature photo by Everett D. Jolley

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 7,000 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.

Highly Sought-after Freshman Says Coming to Tennessee State University Changed His World

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Emmanuel Wallace had several colleges on his radar. But the top high school graduate from Memphis says a summer program he participated in at Tennessee State University changed his world, and he had no choice but to become a Big Blue Tiger.

“What brought me to TSU was my experience in a five-week Summer Apprenticeship Program that really opened my eyes to a lot of opportunities in agriculture,” says Wallace, a graduate of East High School, where he was a “distinguished honor roll” student and a student ambassador. With an expressed interest in studying civil engineering, Wallace received full scholarship offers from Vanderbilt University and the University of Memphis, just a few of the schools courting him.

Emmanuel Wallace

“First, I was considering majoring in civil engineering, because in high school I did a lot of engineering programs,” says Wallace, now a freshman at TSU. “But after talking with the leaders of the program, I concluded that agriculture would be a good fit for me.”

Over the summer, Wallace was one of 21 graduating high school seniors from across the nation who participated in the very competitive five-week Summer Apprenticeship Program. From studies in understanding hypersensitive response of tobacco plants to comparing DNAs in chickens and Guinea fowls, participants in the program were exposed to real-world scientific work and cutting-edge research. He developed a special interest in goat research after spending time with renowned TSU goat researcher, Dr. Richard Browning.

Wallace’s professors and mentors in the program say he showed remarkable ability and enthusiasm to learn.

“Right away we noticed how bright and energetic he was and really wanted to learn,” says Dr. DeEtra Young, assistant professor of agricultural and environmental sciences. “So through our mentorship, I think he fell in love with the new opportunities that agriculture provides.”

Wallace, a first-generation college student and the youngest of three children, came to TSU with a near 4.0 grade point average. He was the salutatorian of his graduating class, president of the National Honor Society, the senior class, and manager for the varsity boys’ soccer team at East High. He is currently majoring in agricultural sciences with a concentration in agribusiness. He hopes to go to graduate school and either work for the U.S. Department Agriculture or develop a business career in agribusiness.

Wallace was recruited as a High Achiever Academic Scholarship recipient. He is a Dean Scholar in the College of Agriculture, and a member of the Honors College. He also has memberships in the Tennessee Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation, and Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Science.

Recently, Wallace was one of 10 TSU students selected to participate in a three-day Agriculture Future of America four-track program in Kansas City, Missouri, designed to offer college men and women four different personal and professional development opportunities matched to their year in college.

According to Young, who accompanied the students, Wallace participated in Track I, which is the leadership track for freshmen.

“The program bridges the gap between academic, leadership and work experiences while helping students understand the impact of their decisions,” says Young.

At TSU, Wallace says his goal is to combine academic and leadership for student success.

“I plan on holding multiple leadership positions, inspire and motivate members of my class, and become a student ambassador for Tennessee State University,” he says.

For more information on opportunities in the TSU College of Agriculture, go to http://www.tnstate.edu/agriculture/seminar_schedule.aspx.

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.

TSU Freshman lands multi-year internship with Fortune 500 Company

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Braxton Simpson says she came to Tennessee State University because she saw an opportunity to grow and to “push my limits.”

She has not been disappointed.

“After a full semester, I can proudly say that TSU has exceeded my expectations,” says the freshman agricultural sciences major.

Simpson comes to TSU as part of a millennial generation of high achieving students that the university continues to strategically recruit in its effort to improve retention and graduation rates.

In 2016, President Glenda Glover 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.

Braxton Simpson

The semester following the announcement, school officials said Braxton’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.

The Atlanta native, who many say is far ahead of her time and definitely pushing her limits, is a member of the Honors College with a 4.0 GPA, and the current Miss Freshman.

At age 19, Simpson is an entrepreneur with two online companies and a high school mentoring program. She also just landed a three-year internship with a Fortune 500 company.

“When I see an opportunity I run after it,” says Simpson, who credits her parents (Michael and Ronnetta Simpson) with the zeal to be ‘assertive and productive.’ They taught me money-management skills and how to brand and market.”

As the oldest of three children, Simpson says her business savvy is helping her to set a good example for her younger siblings. Additionally, she says she majored in agricultural sciences with a concentration in agribusiness to “combine my passion for business and servant leadership.”

An academic standout at Marietta High School, where she graduated with a 4.1 GPA, Simpson is the owner of Girls Got Game, a female athletic apparel company; and Underground Apparel, a “black pride” apparel company. She also mentors high school children through her Black Girls United program that she started while a senior in high school.

This summer, immediately after school and over the next three years, Simpson will intern with Monsanto, one of the nation’s largest agricultural companies. She will be assigned to the company’s world headquarters in St. Louis, for training, and later go onto to Grinnell, Iowa, where she will be involved in seed production.

“I am excited and grateful for this opportunity,” says Simpson. “The TSU Ag department has invested a lot in me since I have been here, especially Dr. (DeEtra) Young. She took me in as a freshman and molded me by sending opportunities my way. She saw the Monsanto commercial for the internship and advised me to apply for it. I did and I was successful.”

Young, an assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, is a professor and mentor to Simpson.

She describes Simpson as ‘one of the many excellent students’ at TSU who are determined to be the very best in their field.

“Braxton presents herself as confident, assertive and dedicated,” says Young. She is intelligent, very inquisitive and genuinely values learning.”

According to Young, Simpson has been selected to participate in the highly competitive Agriculture for Future America Leader Institutes, which provides participants with exposure and professional development training.

This summer, in addition to her training with Monsanto, Simpson will receive AFA training in Chicago and Anaheim, California.

“My advisors have pushed me to be the best I can be. I cannot thank them enough for it!  Being in the Land of Golden Sunshine (TSU) has been a blessing, and I am extremely excited about what the future holds,” says Simpson.

Simpson will start her internship with Monsanto on May 14.