Tag Archives: Emmanuel S. Freeman

STEM students going to China for international research

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Three Tennessee State University students will spend part of their summer participating in an international research experience in China.

Shaniqua Jones, Christine Mba and Whitney Nicole Russell, all senior STEM majors and honor students, are part of the Tennessee Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation program at TSU.

They will join students from the University of Memphis in a research collaboration between UofM and faculty and students at Donghua University in Shanghai. An internal review team in the UofM College of Engineering selected the TSU students to participate. The group’s research project in China will focus on the “Development of Next Generation Biomaterials for Dental Bone Reconstruction/Regeneration.”

The program runs from June 4-29.

“This is all part of our effort to get more of our students engaged in international experiences, not only in research, but also to give them greater exposure to the world around them,” said Dr. Lonnie Sharpe, interim dean of the College of Life and Physical Sciences. “We are excited about our students going, and we look forward to great things coming out of this trip.”

Shaniqua Jones

Dr. Dee Green, director of TLSAMP, said international research experiences, such as the China project, provide visiting undergraduate students the opportunity to “engage in high quality collaborative research” with mentorship from researchers at a host lab. The experience is also a motivation for participants to pursue graduate studies, Green said.

“The exposure also broadens our students’ cultural awareness, professional development and networking skills,” she said.

Jones, a mechanical engineering major from Toledo, Ohio, whose research focus is in the development of functional prosthetics, said the summer experience will help in her quest to understand global engineering and medical problems.

Christine Mba

“One of my personal missions is the advancement of minority women in engineering and a sense of globalization to debunk cultural stereotypes,” said Jones, who has been recognized as a “Dean Scholar Researcher,” for advancement in engineering research.

Mba, biology major from Memphis with interest in a cure for cancer, said her research and lab experiences have helped her navigate and understand different laboratory settings and protocols with ease.

“I look forward to the opportunity to conduct research alongside experienced professors in China, while expanding my knowledge base and gaining an enhanced perspective of the culture,” Mba said.

Whitney Russell

For Russell, also a biology major, from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, with interest in formulation chemistry, her goal is to earn a Ph.D. and work in a lab with a cosmetic chemist to develop hair products. She minors in chemistry, and is the co-founder of Naturally Me, an “empowering program that teaches girls how to make their own natural hair products.”

“This opportunity will afford me the ability to advance my skills in the lab, while also enhancing my cultural experiences,” Russell said.

For more information on the TLSAMP at TSU, go to http://www.tnstate.edu/tlsamp/opp_info.aspx. The National Science Foundation funds the program.

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.

Tennessee State University Attracts the Best; 9 Top Cincinnati High School Graduating Seniors Commit to TSU

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University continues to attract the best and brightest from across the nation.

Nine graduating seniors, each with a 4.0 grade point average from Mt. Healthy High School in Cincinnati, have committed to attend TSU this fall.

TSU President Glenda Glover and university officials welcomed three of the students, who along with their school principal, Thomas Hill, visited the campus Thursday.

Derrick Sanders, left, Gelanie Jones and Jierre Franklin will attend TSU in the fall. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

The other six students will visit TSU after their school’s graduation ceremony on May 26, Hill said. They are all being admitted with full scholarships.

Glover described the students’ visit as “a great day” for Tennessee State University.

“These high achievers made a great choice by selecting to come to Tennessee State University,” she said. “They are part of the elite scholars we continue to attract who value the world-class programs and quality education offered here in a caring community of faculty, staff and administrators who are committed to excellence.”

The three students — Jierre Franklin, Gelanie Jones and Derrick Sanders — said a special bond they share led them to attend the same college. They grew up in the same neighborhood, attended the same elementary and middle schools, and are about to graduate from the same high school.

“We have been friends for 10 years,” said Sanders, who plans to major in business, as well as join the gospel choir. “This school has a great legacy with graduates like Oprah Winfrey, Duke Ellington. I saw the choir perform with Jennifer Hudson, one of my favorite singers, and that really impressed me.”

Another attraction for the students is that they all wanted to attend an HBCU, according to Hill.

“I am a first-year principal in a school with a predominantly African-American student population,” said Hill, who is Caucasian. “We have kids who can compete with anybody in the country, and their desire to attend an HBCU was a preference of theirs. I look at them as my children. All of the students coming here are honor students and I am extremely proud of them.”

For Franklin, a percussionist in her school band, who plans to major in biology and join the TSU marching band, her interest in an HBCU started as a freshman when she accompanied a relative on a college tour.

“That tour was an HBCU college tour and I remember the environment was exactly somewhere I wanted to be,” Franklin said. “Here at TSU it feels like family, and I like the band here.”

Jones, who also plans to major in biology and play on the tennis team, is not a stranger to TSU. His older sister is a junior here, and he said that will help keep him focused.

“I think my sister being here is going to help me to stay on track,” said Jones, the second of three children. “I have been here plenty of times. I have attended Homecoming. I love everything about this school. It’s like a family.”

Audrey Strafford is TSU’s assistant director of Institutional Support (One-Stop Shop), and formerly a longtime financial aid staff, who received the students from Cincinnati. She thinks the students’ “unique” relationship gives them a big advantage to succeed.

“When I find students like these, it makes my heart beat faster because this is what TSU is made of  … this is our legacy,” Strafford said. “I am just so proud they have a principal who would extend himself to make sure these students get a quality education.”

Terrance Izzard, TSU’s associate vice president for Enrollment Management and Student Success, said TSU is “a perfect place for them to grow and to soar.”

“The fact that TSU is a place for family, it makes it wholesome that these young people, who have been knowing each other from grade school and now they are matriculating through college together, are joining our family here at TSU. It is going to be a great experience for all of them.”

Franklin, Jones and Sanders come 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. This comes on the heels of sweeping changes TSU President Glover announced in 2016 that raised admission standards to attract the best and brightest.

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 Part of History: Four Alums Who Met at Tennessee State University 30 Years Ago Attend Royal Wedding in the U.K.

Courtesy: CBS This Morning

LONDON – (TSU News Service) – Almost 3 billion people around the world were expected to tune in to watch the royal wedding on May 19. More than 100,000 people gathered in the streets around Windsor Castle, hoping to catch a glimpse of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in person.

Among those well-wishers were four women who first met at Tennessee State University more than 30 years ago. The TSU alums have traveled all over the world together since then, and this year they made the trip to London to be part of this once-in-a-lifetime event.

See full news video at https://www.cbsnews.com/news/royal-wedding-meghan-markle-prince-harry-american-friends-glamour-diversity/

Tiffany Gray, Margarita Jackson, Debbie Howard and Melanie Smooth kicked off their big weekend of festivities with a champagne toast to the royal couple, at their hotel. Courtesy photo

Tiffany Gray, Margarita “Margo” Jackson, Debbie Howard and Melanie (Melissa) Smoot have taken an annual vacation together for 15 years, and when they heard about the royal wedding, they couldn’t pass up the chance to travel “across the pond” to see royalty up close.

Howard, of Nashville, and Smoot, of Birmingham, Alabama, were all smiles as they began their journey to London on May 16.

“They’re young, they’re hip, they’re cool, he’s marrying an American girl,” Howard told reporters after arriving in the British capital. “Go Meghan!”

The four women kicked off their big weekend of festivities with a champagne toast at their hotel; “to Meghan! to Harry!”

Fashion and fascinators were very much at the forefront of the friends’ minds – and they had no intention to hold back: “It is the royal wedding. You have to be over the top!”

Like the rest of the world, they were still wondering on Friday what Meghan would wear.

“She is not going to do traditional,” predicted Gray, also of Nashville. “She is going to do something edgy.”

Howard said she foresees a “straight line with lace,” and hopes the royal bride will don something that belonged to Harry’s late mother, Princess Diana.

Perhaps most important for the American group, is how Meghan Markle – a biracial American actress – might change the British royal family.

“I think their love signifies diversity,” said Jackson. “By him choosing his bride and she is African-American, just makes it the best.”

“Her dreams came true. She got the prince,” added Gray.

The friends each bought new outfits for Saturday’s big event – hats and fascinators included. They claimed a spot outside Windsor Castle to catch a glimpse of the royal couple on what was an historic day.

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 continues to attract high achievers; student accepted to 160 colleges and nearly $9 million in scholarships, to enroll

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – (TSU News Service) – Jayla Woods, a recent graduate of Whitehaven High School in Memphis with nearly $9 million in scholarship offers to attend college, has decided to bring her talent to Tennessee State University.

Woods, who has a weighted 4.2 grade point average and has been courted by more than 160 colleges, will be a double major at TSU this fall. She said she selected TSU because the university offers the majors she wants to pursue.

Jayla Woods

“I have always wanted to attend an HBCU,” says Woods, who wants to become a sports dietitian. Her goal is to develop meal and diet plans for athletes. “I want to do a double major in nutrition and athletic training, and TSU will let me do that.”

In addition, Woods says she is a “huge” fan of the Tennessee Titans. Her cousin currently plays for the team.

At TSU, Woods will join fellow Whitehaven High School classmate Meaghen Jones, another highly sought-after graduating senior with more than $10 million in offers from 213 colleges. Jones announced in April that she plans to attend TSU in the fall.

Woods and Jones are coming to TSU on full scholarships.

TSU President Glenda Glover says it is no surprise that Woods and Jones selected TSU.

“Tennessee State University is a place with high standards for high achievers,” says Glover.  “More and more we continue to attract elite scholars who value the world-class programs and quality education offered here in a caring community of faculty, staff and administrators who are committed to excellence.”

Woods, like her fellow Whitehaven High classmate, is an academic standout with a number of local and national recognitions. She was a member of the student council, president of the National Honor Society, vice president of the National Honor English Society, member of Alpha Zeta Honor Society, the Science National Honor Society, and yearbook editor. She plans to become a member of the Honors College at TSU.

The only child of Vearnon and Jacquelyn Woods – both college graduates – Jayla says her parents have been the main reason for her success.

“They are the biggest influence in my life,” says Woods. “They push me every step of the way to be successful in everything I undertake. So, I guess I am trying to follow in their footsteps to be the best person I can be.”

Jayla 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. This comes on the heels of sweeping changes TSU President Glover announced in 2016 that raised admission standards to attract the best and brightest.

Following that announcement, the university launched a number of initiatives, including “Experience TSU” to attract the best and brightest students in four major markets – Atlanta, Birmingham, Memphis and Nashville.

President Glover led the campaign to meet potential students face-to-face to ensure their commitment to attend TSU. For instance, Glover visited Meaghen Jones and her parents to “seal the deal” for her to come to TSU.

Terrence Izzard, TSU’s associate vice president for Enrollment Management and Student Success, is directly responsible for recruitment and admissions. He says “Experience TSU” was a way of “personally congratulating these students for applying and being accepted” to TSU.

“The goal was to personally welcome them to the TSU family and let them know of all the wonderful opportunities to grow and learn while here at Tennessee State University,” says Izzard.

Officials project more high-achieving students will be coming to TSU for the fall semester.

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.

Memphis Graduating High School Senior with 213 College Offers, and More than $10 Million in Scholarships, to Attend TSU

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Meaghen Jones, a Memphis high school graduating senior who has been accepted to 213 colleges across the nation and has received more than $10 million in scholarship offers, is coming to the “Land of Golden Sunshine.” She will attend Tennessee State University this fall as a pre-med, TSU officials have announced.

TSU President Glenda Glover visited with Jones and her parents “to seal the deal.”

President Glenda Glover presents Meaghen Jones with an official TSU shirt. (Submitted photo)

In a teary statement before a cheering crowd, Jones announced, “My name is Meaghen Jones, and first I would like to thank God and my parents, my family, my friends and all who have supported me throughout my life. I have accumulated $10,776,400 in scholarships. My final choices for college were Tennessee State University and the University of Memphis. In fall 2018, I will be continuing my education at Tennessee State University.”

Jones, a Whitehaven High School academic standout, has a weighted 4.2 grade point average and an ACT score of 25. She is a member of the yearbook staff.

Jones is also part of the River City Dance Company, and attends the T.L. Williams Academy of Dance. At TSU, Jones says she plans to seek admission into the Honors College.

Jones 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 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.

Officials say in addition to academics, Jones’ future will be in good hands when she comes to TSU. Recent data comparison shows that the university is on an upward trajectory when it comes to job placement for new graduates.

Within three months of receiving their degrees, nearly 52 percent of students who graduated in December had received “some form of employment opportunities,” according to the Career Development Center. That’s just 6 percent shy of the national average of graduates who had jobs within six months of graduation, according to College Track, an online database that guides parents and students in college selection.

Last year, TSU received a $2 million career development grant from the United Negro College Fund. The money gave the Career Development Center staff the tools to prepare and ultimately help TSU students secure employment immediately upon graduation.

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.

Tennessee State University Congratulates Its Spring 2018 graduates

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Congratulations to Tennessee State University’s Spring 2018 graduates.

More than 1,000 students walked across the aisle at two separate Tennessee State University commencement ceremonies to receive their degrees in different disciplines. Both ceremonies took place in the Gentry Complex on the main campus.

TSU President Glenda Glover congratulated the graduates and parents for their achievement.

“This is your day,” Glover told the graduates. “We thank you, and we’re depending on you to continue the tradition of excellence.”

At the undergraduate commencement on Saturday, May 5, more than 800 graduates received their degrees after hearing from nationally recognized motivational speaker, Dr. Eric Thomas.

He told the graduates that each of them is born with greatness, but to achieve it requires work.

“Greatness is not free, it comes with a price tag,” said Thomas.

Among the graduates were the grandmother/granddaughter pair of Theresa Lyles, 68, and Zuri Lyles, 22, who received their bachelor’s degrees in sociology and health information management, respectively.

Also at the spring graduation, university officials posthumously presented degrees to the families of two students who died few months before they were to graduate. Bethany Morse, 34, a non-traditional student, died Feb. 2, 2018. Her bachelor’s degree was in social work. The other student, Denise McGarity Sampson, 22, died Nov. 27, 2017. She earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering.

On Friday, May 4, graduate students received their degrees after hearing inspiring words from Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, who gave the commencement address.

Bottoms, an Atlanta native who became the 60th mayor of Atlanta last December and only the second woman to be elected mayor in Atlanta’s history, told the graduates not to be afraid to share their struggles, their “scars,” because they don’t know who may be inspired by them – especially in the case of youth.

“As you enter this next season of life, think of those little boys and little girls who need to hear your stories, and be uplifted by your stories,” said Bottoms. “How you graduated from TSU, and how you got to the other side.“

Between its graduate commencement and its undergraduate commencement, TSU graduated more than 1,000 students. And officials say a “substantial number” have already gotten job or internship offers.

Among them is Emmanuel Gyang of Nashville, who received his bachelor’s degree in engineering. He is heading to Bank of America in Dallas as a systems engineer in the company’s data center.

“I feel blessed to be graduating with a job with a company like Bank of America,” he said. “I owe it to TSU for the preparation I received in the classroom and from TSU’s Career Development Center. They definitely honed me to be the person I am today. They taught me how to carry myself in a more professional manner.”

Recent data comparison shows that TSU is on an upward trajectory when it comes to job placement for new graduates.

Within three months of receiving their degrees, nearly 52 percent of students who graduated in December had received “some form of employment opportunities,” according to the Career Development Center. That’s just 6 percent shy of the national average of graduates who had jobs within six months of graduation, according to College Track, an online database that guides parents and students in college selection.

Last year, TSU received a $2 million career development grant from the United Negro College Fund. The money gave the Career Development Center staff the tools to prepare and ultimately help TSU students secure employment immediately upon graduation.

 

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.

Motivational Speaker Tells Tennessee State University Graduates That Achieving Greatness Requires Work

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University’s spring undergraduate commencement speaker told graduates that each of them is born with greatness, but to achieve it requires work.

TSU President Glenda Glover presents a plaque to spring undergraduate commencement, Dr. Eric Thomas. (Photo by Courtney Buggs, TSU Media Relations)

“Greatness is not free, it comes with a price tag,” said nationally-recognized motivational speaker, Dr. Eric Thomas, as more than 800 graduates in different disciplines prepared to walk across the aisle to receive their degrees.

Among the graduates were the grandmother/granddaughter pair of Theresa Lyles, 68, and Zuri Lyles, 22, who received their bachelor’s degrees in sociology and health information management, respectively. Read their story at https://bit.ly/2I9rHon.

Also at the spring graduation, university officials posthumously presented degrees to the families of two students who died few months before they were to graduate. Bethany Morse, 34, a non-traditional student, died Feb. 2, 2018. Her bachelor’s degree was in social work. The other student, Denise McGarity Sampson, 22, died Nov. 27, 2017. She earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering.

Called the “Hip Hop Preacher” for his creative style and high-energy speeches, Thomas drove home his usual message on success that “when you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you’ll be successful.”

To Saturday’s graduates, Thomas said “work,” “think” and “service” are the greatest assets to achieving greatness.

President Glenda Glover posthumously presaents Denise McGarity Sampson’s degree to her family. McGarity, an engineering major, died Nov. 27, 2017. (Photo by Courtney Buggs, TSU Media Relations)

“To activate the greatness in you, it requires you to work to achieve your dream,” he said. “Some days you might not feel like getting up but your dream will make you get up. …it will push you. With your education, you have an opportunity of a lifetime. Surround yourself with people who believe in your dream.”

Prior to Thomas’ speech, TSU President Glenda Glover congratulated the graduates and parents for their achievement.

“This is your day,” said Glover. “We thank you, and we’re depending on you to continue the tradition of excellence.”

Ra’Shunda Hackett, who received her bachelor’s degree in biology, said Thomas reiterated the lessons she learned at TSU.

“TSU’s motto is ‘Think, Work and Serve.’ This university was a dream school, and I am not disappointed that I chose to come here,” said Hackett, of Birmingham, Alabama, who came to TSU on a Presidential Scholarship. “I am extremely excited and thankful to the many at TSU who helped me along the way.”

Hackett, who serves as an AmeriCorps member with Impact America, will intern with Cigna, a global health insurance service company.

Between its graduate commencement, which took place Friday, and its undergraduate commencement, TSU graduated more than 1,000 students. And officials say a “substantial number,” like Hackett, have already gotten job or internship offers.

Among them is Emmanuel Gyang of Nashville, who received his bachelor’s degree in engineering. He is heading to Bank of America in Dallas as a systems engineer in the company’s data center.

“I feel blessed to be graduating with a job with a company like Bank of America,” he said. “I owe it to TSU for the preparation I received in the classroom and from TSU’s Career Development Center. They definitely honed me to be the person I am today. They taught me how to carry myself in a more professional manner.”

Recent data comparison shows that TSU is on an upward trajectory when it comes to job placement for new graduates.

Within three months of receiving their degrees, nearly 52 percent of students who graduated in December had received “some form of employment opportunities,” according to the Career Development Center. That’s just 6 percent shy of the national average of graduates who had jobs within six months of graduation, according to College Track, an online database that guides parents and students in college selection.

Last year, TSU received a $2 million career development grant from the United Negro College Fund. The money gave the Career Development Center staff the tools to prepare and ultimately help TSU students secure employment immediately upon graduation.

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.

Grandmother, Granddaughter graduate from Tennessee State University

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Although born more than 40 years apart, Theresa Lyles and her granddaughter Zuri Lyles were part of the same graduating class at Tennessee State University.

Theresa, 68, and Zuri, 22, walked across the stage to accept their degrees, when TSU held its spring undergraduate commencement in the Howard C. Gentry Complex on May 5. Theresa’s degree is in sociology, while Zuri received a bachelor’s degree in health information management and a minor in business.

Theresa Lyles, left, and Zuri Lyles may be the first grandmother/granddaughter graduating pair in TSU’s more than 100-year history. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

“I never contemplated this,” Theresa said when asked about she and her granddaughter graduating at the same time. “Who new that when I started back then that I would be graduating at the same time as she did. Nobody but God.”

Theresa, a grandmother of 15, started at TSU in 1967, but dropped out in 1970 to raise her family. A little over a year ago, she came back to school without knowing she earned enough credits back then to put her close to graduating, until her academic advisers told her. But a few months into her schooling, alongside Zuri, tragedy hit the family. Theresa lost her middle daughter, Zuri’s mother, on January 6.

“That hit us so hard that I almost dropped out because I was struggling and my grandmother went through a depression,” said Zuri. “But we kept encouraging each other. Through it all, we started working harder and did everything we needed to get the job done.”

Zuri, who has a job offer with St. Thomas General as an information systems analyst, said she plans to attend graduate school and get a degree in physical therapy. For now, Theresa will continue to help with raising her grandchildren, but she is glad to finally get her degree.

“I always wanted to come back, but just never had the chance to do it,” she said. “I am glad I did, and it’s even better that I am doing it with my granddaughter. We encouraged each other. It was tough, but we had to tunnel through.”

Said Zuri: “It feels amazing and life-changing for both of us” to be graduating at the same time. 

This may just be the first time in TSU’s more than 100-year history that a grandmother and a granddaughter will be graduating at the same time.

Zuri is graduating with honors. Her ultimate goal is to start her own business.

 

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.


First-generation College Student Fulfills Parents’ Dream, Says Coming to TSU Was Best Choice

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Ever since Amber Hawkins started going to school, her parents have encouraged her to fulfill a dream they weren’t able to achieve: to graduate from college.

On May 5, Hawkins fulfilled her parents’ dream. She was among nearly 1,000 students who received degrees when TSU held its spring commencement at the Howard C. Gentry Complex. Hawkins graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science and a minor in English.

Amber Hawkins

The oldest of three, Hawkins is the first in her family to earn a college degree, and credits her parents and maternal grandmother, a schoolteacher for more than 35 years, for the motivation to succeed.

“My grandmother definitely inspired and motivated me about my education,” says Hawkins, a native of Memphis, Tennessee, who is graduating with honors. “Along with my parents, she constantly reminded me that school always comes first. And if anything comes before school, then it shouldn’t be in my life.”

For Hawkins, the journey has been more than about graduating from college. It’s been about pursuing excellence. And she says TSU has provided the environment to make her dream possible.

“Tennessee State University has been a phenomenal experience that allowed me to be the best I can be,” says Hawkins, an academic standout at Memphis’ White Station High School, who promised earlier in her academic career “never to settle for low grades” and to work hard to be the best at whatever she pursues.

At TSU, Hawkins graduated with a 4.0 grade point average, something she has maintained throughout her matriculation. She has received a full graduate assistantship to purse a master’s degree in higher education administration at William Patterson University.

“TSU has been a perfect fit for me since I first came on campus on a college tour. I felt welcomed, and that coming here I would be part of a family as opposed to being a number, and I have not been disappointed,” says Hawkins. “The HBCU experience has been very rewarding. I came here not know knowing what career path to follow, but with the care I received and participating in activities that enhance others’ life, I have definitely found an interest in working with students.”

Hawkins engaged in many campus activities, including a travel-abroad opportunity. She is a member of the Honors College, served on the disciplinary committee in the office of student conduct, worked in the Tiger Tutoring lab to help with student placement for faculty-peer tutoring, as well as worked with the university marching band as a support staff.

In her junior year, Hawkins won an opportunity to work with the United College Fund Career Path Initiative. In the same year, she traveled to Paris to study the works of renowned writers like James Baldwin and Richard Wright as part of her academic work.

Hawkins, whose ultimate goal is to become a college president, especially at an HBCU, said these activities, including working in the office of the vice president of student affairs as the chief student judicial officer for about three years, has spawned an interest to serve students.

“This career path makes me feel I am making a positive difference in someone’s life in inspiring other students and working with administrators in creating a conducive environment, so that students can thrive,” says Hawkins. “In doing that, I have come to the conclusion that being the VP for student affairs, preferably at an HBCU, would be the best means to achieve something I am very passionate about.”

As she leaves TSU, Hawkins is thankful to many she says made her journey possible through personal care, advising, mentoring and who “went the extra mile to make sure I was using my time wisely.”

“Professor (Kyle) Murray I will always remember,” says Hawkins. “He has been one of the most supportive faculty members that I have ever had the pleasure of meeting here at TSU. I can say that I would not have the drive, the dedication, and the confidence … as a student and be prepared to go out into the professional world without his support, advice, criticizing me, even when it hurts at times.”

Dr. Murray, academic advisor and instructor in the Department of Political Science, describes Hawkins as “ undoubtedly the best university student” he has ever worked with.

“From the day Amber arrived to our degree program, she has been driven and ambitious, but never in an egotistical way,” says Murray. “In sports, coaches often refer to apt players as very ‘coachable.’ I can easily say the same thing about Amber. Amber’s ambition was never to try and fit in to extracurricular organizations, but her sole focus, rather, was on developing her academic qualities in addition to contributing to this institution as a whole through direct service.”

For Hawkins, her goal is to develop a graduate research project around “HBCUs and What They Mean in the 21st Century.”

“Since I want to work at an HBCU, I felt like William Patterson has the appropriate spot for me to do that,” says Hawkins.

It’s students like Amber, and the class of 2018, that keep the legacy – think, work, serve – alive and thriving for 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.

Job Outlook Shows Great Promise for Tennessee State University Graduates

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – College graduates will soon hit the market with big dreams and high expectations, and Tennessee State University is helping to make them a reality.

Focused academic preparation, combined with job readiness training and career coaching are paying huge dividends for upcoming TSU graduates.

On May 4 and 5, the university will graduate more than 1,000 students at its dual spring commencements. Officials say a “substantial number” have already received job or internship offers.

Representatives from Kroger Regional Office talk to a TSU student, right, during a recent career fair on the TSU main campus. (Phto by TSU Career Development Center)

Among them is Emmanuel Gyang of Nashville. Upon his graduation on May 5, he will be heading to Bank of America in Dallas as a systems engineer in the company’s data center.

So will Justus Watson, who graduates with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural sciences with a biotechnology concentration. The Atlanta native will join Union Pacific in the marketing and sales department in Omaha, Nebraska.

And Kevin Scott, also of Nashville, who will receive a degree in electrical engineering. Scott has potential job offers waiting for him with Lockheed Martin and AMRDEC, or the Army Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center.

Recent data comparison shows that TSU is on an upward trajectory when it comes to job placement for new graduates.

Within three months of receiving their degrees, nearly 52 percent of students who graduated in December had received “some form of employment opportunities,” according to the TSU Career Development Center. That’s just 6 percent shy of the national average of graduates who had jobs within six months of graduation, according to College Track, an online database that guides parents and students in college selection.

What is driving these high numbers for TSU?

“It starts with leadership,” says Dr. Tracey Ford, TSU’s vice-president for Student Affairs. “Our president, Dr. Glenda Glover, has elevated the expectation of job placement for our graduates and has charged Student Affairs to be aggressive and innovative in our approach to recruiting employers and securing internships and permanent placement for our talented students.”

More than 130 vendors, including major employers and graduate school representatives, attended the Fall Career and Job Fair on campus last October. (Photo by TSU Career Development Center)

Ford also attributes TSU’s success to the “outstanding job performance” of former students who are employed with companies around the nation and the world.

“Our students who have become great employees at these world-renowned companies are making such an impact that it causes the employers to want to continue to recruit at Tennessee State University,” says Ford.

Last year, TSU received a $2 million career development grant from the United Negro College Fund. The money gave Career Development Center staff the tools to prepare and ultimately help TSU students secure employment immediately upon graduation.

Bethany Beaty, talent acquisition specialist at Enterprise Holdings, Inc., who has hired several TSU graduates over the years, says, “TSU students are very realistic and very ambitious.”

“They always have a drive, and always willing to start at the bottom and work their way up,” says Beaty.

Collectively, the success of Gyang, Watson and Scott and the many other upcoming graduates is a clear reflection of TSU’s “aggressive and innovative” approach to job skills readiness and placement, says Charles Jennings, director of the Career Development Center.

According to Jennings, relationships with employers have been a major factor for TSU’s success. For instance, a career fair in October – one of the largest in recent years – brought more than 130 companies on campus, “all looking to hire our students.” Among major companies at the fair were Apple, Microsoft, Ford Motor Company and Health Career Connections.

“I will have to say we are doing some outstanding work here at TSU in terms of our outreach with employers, not only within the Nashville area, but nationwide,” says Jennings.

Gyang, who interned with Bank of America last year, says he’s “anxiously” waiting for his July start date with the corporate giant.

“I feel blessed to be graduating with a job with a company like Bank of America,” he says. “I owe it to TSU for the preparation I received in the classroom and from the Career Development Center. They definitely honed me to be the person I am today. They taught me how to carry myself in a more professional manner.”

Watson and Scott share Gyang’s sentiments.

“I am pretty excited about this opportunity,” says Watson, the outgoing vice-president of the Student Government Association, who said an interaction at an Agriculture Future of America leadership conference helped him to land the job with Union Pacific.

“A lot of how TSU prepared me made that moment possible. Motivations from my advisors in the College of Agriculture, along with outstanding mentors, and participating in different organizations on campus were helpful. Without TSU, I know for sure I would not have been ready for this opportunity.”

For more information on the TSU Career Development Center, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/careers/

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.