Tag Archives: High Standards High Achievers

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.

Nashville native Kevin Scott says attending his hometown university was the best choice for college, finds success at TSU

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – When it comes to education, Kevin Scott has no other choice but to succeed.

“My parents didn’t play. Growing up at home my grades always came first,” says Scott, a Nashville native who has a passion for building, tinkering and fixing things.

Scott’s passion is no accident. He was raised around people who were “always building or fixing things.” His father owns a mechanic and towing business that he inherited from Kevin’s grandfather.

Kevin Scott

“That’s where my interest in electronics started, being able to create and play with emerging technology,” says Scott, a senior electrical engineering major at Tennessee State University.

In May, Scott will graduate from TSU with a degree in electrical engineering and a concentration in computer engineering. He has potential job offers waiting for him with aerospace research and engineering giants like Lockheed Martin and AMRDEC or the Army Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center, upon graduation.

Scott says the “strong and highly accredited” engineering program at TSU made his decision to stay local very easy. At TSU, he maintained the same high academic zeal he had always had. He is completing his engineering program in four years, which ordinarily lasts five years.

“I have been blessed with great professors and mentors at TSU who have been very nurturing and show personal interest in my success,” says Scott, who will be graduating with a near 3.5 grade point average.

An Academic standout at Nashville’s John Overton High School, Scott credits strong TSU disciplines and early preparation for his success. At Overton, Scott was part of the STEM Academy, and a member of the Technology Student Association, which helped him to develop the fundamentals of engineering, robotics and programming.  He had earned 12 college credit hours by the time he graduated high school. He was awarded a Presidential Scholarship to attend TSU, from where both his parents – Kevin, Sr., and Joy Scott – had graduated.

“The scholarship was a sign that I should stay locally and take advantage of the opportunity I had been blessed with,” says Scott. “In fact I had always been involved with TSU and many of my family members had also attended TSU.”

A member of the Honors College, Scott is the Student Branch Chair of the Institute of Electrical/Electronic Engineers, member of the National Society of Black Engineers, and Eta Kappa Nu Zeta Kappa Chapter Electrical Engineering Honor Society. He is also a teaching assistant, and Lab Manager for STEM Scouts by Boy Scout of America.

“This journey through Tennessee State University has been a life-changing experience. From the connections I have made, the opportunities that I have been granted, and from the education I have received, coming into this final stretch of my undergraduate degree, I know that I am ready to THINK, WORK, SERVE, and LEAD,” says Scott.

Dr. Coreen Jackson, interim dean of the Honors College and one of those Scott credits for his success, says, “Kevin is one of those rare people whose achievement and ambition are way beyond his years.”

“Kevin has done an exceptional job in his academics at Tennessee State University,” says Jackson. “He has had excellent training in his engineering classes, received personal mentorship from his professors in the College of Engineering and the Honors College, and is well prepared to make his mark on the world.”

Over his college career, Scott also received recognitions and scholarship awards from the Music City Bowl Tradition of Service, the NFL Retired Players Inspiration, IBM Master The Mainframe Part 2 Completion, and the National Society of Collegiate Scholars.

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 Freshman Beats Odds By Staying Focused Amid Life’s Challenges

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Naton Smith says he could have easily become a statistic. Instead, he was determined, and beat the odds.

Growing up in a rough neighborhood in St. Louis, he was not expected to make it out and be successful. But he was determined – amid gang violence, drugs, killings, and where high school graduation was rare.

“I was determined not to let anything negative hold me back,” says Smith, a freshman health science major with concentration in physical therapy.

“I wanted to go to college, although I knew it wouldn’t be easy; but I kept pushing by making good grades and staying out of trouble. I needed to get out and find that place that would make me realize my dream.”

Naton Smith

Smith found a way out, and found his way to Tennessee State University.

“I wanted to attend TSU to be surrounded by ‘black excellence,’” says Smith, who graduated near the top of his senior class at North Technical High School. “I wanted to be around people who had something going for them, who could motivate me to achieve, and TSU has provided me that place.”

At TSU, Smith has a 3.81 grade point average. He is a member of the Honors College. In his first semester, Smith made the Dean’s List for outstanding students.

As part of the Class of 2021, Smith is among 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, TSU President Glenda Glover announced sweeping changes that raised admission standards to attract the best and brightest. Minimum requirements for incoming freshmen went up from a 2.25 GPA to 2.5, while the ACT score remained at 19.

In Smith’s first semester – following President Glover’s announcement – school officials said his 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.

In addition to academics, there is every indication that Smith has found his niche at TSU. He is a member of the Men’s Center, which focuses on character development, social engagement and mentorship for male students.  He also participates in intramural basketball when he is not promoting a new business venture – a clothing line on Instagram called Creative Minds Clothing.

“I like to try my hands in a variety of different business ventures. I’m constantly trying to network and meet new people,” says Smith, who plans to go to physical therapy school.

Smith is also thankful to many at TSU who are having a positive impact on his life, including Amanda Brown, his English professor.

“Professor Brown shows great interest in my well-being. She motivates me. She is a very positive individual who pushes me to stay focus,” says Smith.

Brown, an English instructor in the Department of Languages, Literature and Philosophy, describes Smith as “both engaged and engaging, curious, empathetic, charismatic and exceedingly bright.”

“As I have gotten to know him over the year, I have seen how he exhibits a quiet leadership style and grace under pressure that will, I believe, serve him well in life,” says Brown. “Teaching him has been a real joy.”

Smith says he will stay focus and continue to beat the odds, and be successful at TSU and beyond. The St. Louis native beams with pride and says to just sit back and watch, because he’s from the “Show-Me” state.

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.